After a fun and festive holiday season, it’s easy to start the new year a little worse for wear.  Indulging in all the holidays have to offer can throw your diet or your budget a little off track.  If you were hosting dinners or caught the baking bug, your oven may need a little tender loving care too.  Cleaning your oven can seem overwhelming, but you may not want to flip the self-cleaning switch just yet.

The Self Cleaning Cycle isn’t All that it Promises

We are living in an era where we don’t have to do much for ourselves.  We don’t have to wash our own dishes, Alexa will play music and order amazon purchases on a whim, and robots will vacuum our floors (honest review of rumba coming soon.)  With enough disposable cash, you can even buy a machine that will iron and fold your clothes! New technology offers a lot of ease and convenience, but not always the best performance.  Who doesn’t have to scrape food of a dish from the dishwasher now and then?  Self cleaning ovens promise convenience and hands free cleaning, however, the charred food remains don’t just evaporate.  Even after a self-cleaning cycle some wiping and scrubbing will be necessary.  After all, there isn’t an automated oven scrubbing robot inside.  Your self-cleaning oven cycle’s “cleaning” is trying to melt all the grime off by getting your oven really, really hot.

And That Means REALLY Hot!

The highest cooking temperature for most ovens is around 400-450 degrees.  That is definitely hot.  However, the self-cleaning cycle will heat your oven to 600 degrees or higher, and in some cases will sustain temperatures of 1000 degrees to burn off grease and food particles.  Do you really want something in your house that hot? Or grease hitting temperatures that high in your home?  For this reason self-cleaning ovens can lead to house fires, especially if there is an excess of food and grease inside.  Heating the appliance itself as well as whatever is inside to those temps will definitely stink up your home for the day. Unfortunately, those aren’t harmless odors…

Other Dangers

The high temperatures of the self-cleaning setting can result in other dangers as well.  Higher levels of carbon monoxide will be emitted.  As other chemicals used in manufacturing release toxic fumes from your oven at high temperatures.  Self-cleaning ovens can produce toxic levels of teflon, acrolein and formaldehyde in the air. If you are considering the self-cleaning setting, install a carbon monoxide detector and keep windows open for ventilation.

The Best Method for a Clean Oven

We highly recommend cleaning ovens the old-fashioned way, by hand.  The result is a much cleaner oven than the self-cleaning cycle will produce and with far less dangers.  Spray-on oven cleaner gets the job done quickly.  Even the “fume-free” formulas require a lot of ventilation for safety and bring an unpleasant smell into your home.  If the time is available, the most natural and effective way to clean your oven poses no fumes or dangers whatsoever.  Simply take out the oven racks and give them a good scrub in your sink.  Sprinkle baking soda over the bottom of your oven and spray in a small amount of vinegar.  You want enough moisture from the vinegar to make a paste with the baking soda, but not so much that it puddles.  Rub some of the paste on any stubborn spots on the sides of the oven as well.  Let that sit for several hours, or over night if possible.  After a few hours wipe up most of the paste and use a scouring pad on any burnt on areas.  Spray the oven down with more vinegar to wipe away any mess left behind.

It is important to keep your oven cleaned regularly to reduce buildup of cooking spills.  A clean oven will reduce unpleasant cooking smells but also lower your risk of fire. Everyone uses their oven with varying frequency, but your oven should be cleaned a minimum of once or twice a year. While “set it and forget it” might seem like the easiest way to a clean oven, know the risks and safety precautions before you flip the switch.  Results are better with good old-fashioned elbow grease.  We could be slightly biased, but we think setting an appointment with the Dust Bunnies of Hampton Roads is the easiest way to get your oven the cleanest it can be!  If you would like to start the new year off with a clean oven, we are just a phone call away.