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Experts serve up advice on caring for these kitchen appliances, which work extra hard during the holidays
Bonnie McCarthy November 21, 2016. Houzz Contributor. Style anthropologist, freelance writer and photographer with a passion for design and living with style. Join me on the adventure at ThisAmericanHome.blogspot.com, and follow me on Houzz!
The kitchen takes center stage during the holidays, and the stove-top and oven (along with the cook, of course!) are the stars. Here’s how to get them clean and ready for their close-up.
Joe Shiraz, co-founder of Maids Around Town in Austin, Texas, recommends starting your stove-cleaning project by removing burner trays and putting them in the sink with soapy water. Let them sit for 20 minutes, then rinse and scrub with a sponge to get rid of any remaining food and debris.
Before returning the trays to the burners, wipe down the stove-top using an appropriate cleanser. Marie Stegner, consumer health advocate for the Maid Brigade in Atlanta, says she likes to make her own cleaning solutions of hot water, vinegar and lemon. “I like to use hot water when I use vinegar or lemon to clean things because I feel like it works better,” she says.
Her method: Put a quarter-cup of vinegar, two cups of hot water and a drop of dish soap (she prefers Castile soap or Dawn) in a spray bottle. Next, Stegner sprinkles baking soda from a Parmesan cheese shaker on the surface to be cleaned. She then sprays on the vinegar solution and wipes or scrubs as necessary. This process should be mild enough to avoid scratching most surfaces; however, if you’re concerned it may be too abrasive, consider wiping with a damp microfiber cloth instead. Better safe than sorry.
For stove-top rust stains, Stegner suggests making a paste with cream of tartar and water. “Wipe it around the area in circles like you are waxing and it should come off,” she says.
Rack ’em Up
Next, it’s time to clean the interior racks of your oven. Remove the racks and place them in the sink to take their turn at soaking in the sudsy water. Shiraz suggests letting them soak for at least 20 minutes, if not longer. “This will loosen up the grease and caked-on dirt,” he says.
Afterward, use a sponge or dishwashing brush to scrub any remaining residue. “If the racks are ceramic, use a non-abrasive sponge,” he says.
For metal racks, Stegner uses a pumice stone on each bar. “It takes a while, but everything comes off,” she says.
Finally, rinse and dry.
While the racks are soaking, you can tackle the oven itself. To choose the right cleaning method, Shiraz advises beginning with the owner’s manual. “It can be kind of tricky,” he says, “because there are ceramic ovens and high-end ovens that have special cleaning instructions. I would advise homeowners to first check the manufacturer’s instructions.”
A Crumb-y Idea
Stegner says she begins by vacuuming out the crumbs. If you don’t have a vacuum with a hose and nozzle attachment, you can wipe out the inside with a damp, non-abrasive sponge. “Wipe the loose crumbs into a garbage can or dustpan to save yourself extra cleaning later,” Shiraz says.
For many folks, the next step is spraying the interior of the oven with a commercial oven cleaner. For this method, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the can for best results.
If you prefer not to use a commercial oven cleaner, you can opt for ammonia, Shiraz says. Pour two cups of ammonia in a bowl and use a sponge to scrub the areas that have baked-on debris. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then wipe out the oven with water. “Make sure the ammonia is rinsed out thoroughly,” Shiraz says, “otherwise your oven will smell like ammonia the next time you use it.”
Stegner recommends sprinkling baking soda over the interior surface, then spraying liberally with the solution she described earlier, to create a paste. “I’ve tried everything,” she says. “I used commercial oven cleaner 20 years ago but stopped doing that — there are so many poisons in oven cleaners it’s crazy. When you have that many cautions on something, it’s not something I want in my oven. Now I use the baking soda.”
Stegner says some people may want to let the baking soda sprayed with vinegar solution sit overnight, but you don’t need to. “I usually wait about 20 to 30 minutes,” she says. “Then I’ll go in and scrub using steel wool or a bristle brush. If there’s a stubborn area that won’t come off, I’ll put the paste on again via the baking-soda-and-spray-bottle process. If it’s a thick, crusty area, you can also lightly use the sharp edge of a razor blade to chip it off. Or you can just keep scrubbing — it should work.”
Finally, wipe down the interior with a clean, damp cloth or paper towels until thoroughly rinsed.
When it’s time to clean the window on the oven door, Stegner says water and vinegar are a great choice. “Anything we’ve been using to clean the oven can also be used on the window,” she says.
Don’t despair if the window has become cloudy or dirty on the inside, Stegner says. “All you have to do is take the back of the oven door off. People don’t know you can do that. You unscrew it, wash it and put it back together,” she says.
For those squeamish about deconstructing their oven, Stegner has another solution: “You can just take your prettiest towel and hang it on the bar over the window.”
Once the oven is clean and sparkling, Stegner advises taking steps to keep it that way as long as possible. “I put parchment paper on the bottom of the oven in case of drips or spills,” she says.