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Here’s how to clean your oven the eco-friendly way, without any harsh chemicals

Cleaning ovens has a bad rap because putting your head in to scrub the walls conjures up images of Sylvia Plath — but it still has to be done. If you go for a long time without cleaning out the walls and shelves of your oven it can start to smell funky whenever you heat it up. Depending on what type you have, there are a few different ways to go about cleaning your oven. If yours is of the self-cleaning variety, congrats; this will be way easier for you. If it’s an older model without that feature, you’ll have to do a little more work. In either case, here’s a quick tutorial on how to clean an oven — without using any harsh chemicals.

Inside the Oven

The inside of the oven is one of the most neglected parts of a kitchen. It’s on of those “out of sight, out of mind” kind of things. Gunk can build up on the walls, and the more you cook the harder it is to scrape the grime off.

Self Cleaning Oven

If you don’t know whether or not your oven can clean itself, look on the nob and there will be a setting for cleaning. This process isn’t complicated, all it does is heat the oven to a really high heat and burn off everything stuck inside. Your oven will emit a pretty terrible smell so open windows and keep kids and pets away from the kitchen until it has cooled.

Step 1- For some ovens you have to lock it yourself, but others lock it automatically whenever you start the cleaning process.

Step 2- Press the button or move the knob for cleaning.

Step 3- It takes anywhere from two to six hours to complete the process and the door will unlock when it’s finished.

Step 4- Let it cool for a couple hours before opening it to avoid scalding grease.

Step 5- When you open the door, there will be a pile of burned grease and left over food. All you have to do is sweep or wipe that out and the inside is done. If the racks still have some gunk on them, you can take them out and soak them in the sink for half an hour then wipe everything off.

Non-Self Cleaning Oven

Many older ovens don’t clean themselves so you have to use some elbow grease. There are a few ways to tackle the nooks and crannies of your oven. The first and easiest way is to get oven cleaner like Easy-Off, spray it all over everything, let it dry and wipe it out. If you’re worried about fumes from the cleaner or the environment, you can make your own cleaner using baking soda and water.

Step 1- Remove the racks and soak them in warm water and dish soap for a couple hours.

Step 2- Add 4 tablespoons of baking soda to a spray bottle and fill the rest with water. Shake it up to dissolve the baking soda.

Step 3- Spray evenly on every surface.

Step 4- Let it soak for an hour. If you go back and the grime is still really stuck on there, spray again and wait another hour.

Step 5- Wipe it out with warm water. You can use a car windshield scraper to get off the really stubborn parts.

Step 6- If the walls are still grimy after you’ve removed the baking soda, dilute two tablespoons of white vinegar with warm water and quickly wipe everything down. The vinegar will react with the baking soda and make it come right off with a washcloth, and leaves a nice shine.

After rinsing and drying the racks that have been soaking, put them back in and the inside of the oven is done.

Cleaning the Door

You can clean the door of your oven the same way you did the inside with either oven cleaner or baking soda. If you have a window in the door, you can use glass cleaner on the inside and outside of the window. Get rid of any food or grease that has dripped down from the stove top onto the outside of the door with warm water and soap.

Stove top

Cleaning the inside of an oven sucks, so take a break before moving onto the stove — you’ve earned it.

Step 1- Remove all the grates and if those need to be washed, let them soak in some water like you did with the oven racks. If they look okay, just stack them to the side.

Step 2- Here you are faced with the same choice you had before, whether or not to use industrial strength cleaner or make your own. If you’re making your own, use the same baking soda and water mixture from before, then follow up with vinegar just like before.

Step 3- Put whichever cleaner you choose onto the entire area of the stove and wash it off with warm water. It’s basic cleaning, so we trust you can handle it from here.

Step 4- Replace the grates and you are ready to start cooking.

Not all stoves have grates, and if that’s the case, you obviously won’t be removing them to clean. For a glass top stove, you’re going to need special cleaner to avoid streaks, and that can be found at a grocery store. To use, just put a little on the top and use a warm wash cloth or green scrubbing pad to scrub the entire top then use warm water to rinse it off. You can dry it with a towel or let it air dry depending on when you need to start cooking.

[Image courtesy of Kamila Starzycka/Shutterstock]