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Holiday Prep: Clean the Oven

With the holidays quickly approaching, you’re probably anticipating all the cooking you’ll be doing. Is your kitchen up to the task? The oven is the first place that likely needs attention. Having a clean oven to work with makes holiday baking much more pleasant. Here’s how to clean your oven, no matter what type you have.

Self-Cleaning Ovens

Whether convection or conventional, self-cleaning ovens are heaven sent. The cleaning cycle reduces spills to a powdery ash you can simply wipe away with a damp cloth. While you can run the cleaning cycle as often as needed to remove stubborn burned-on spills, you may want to wash the oven door, frame and rubber seal more regularly with soap and water just to keep the appliance looking clean.

Remember to open the windows while the oven self-cleans for some much-needed fresh air. You may also want to remove any plastic knobs from the stovetop since these are prone to warp and melt from the intense heat of the self-cleaning cycle. When in doubt, check the user’s manual.

Steam Cleaning Ovens

This type of oven makes stuck-on gunk easy to clean. While you should refer to the manufacturer’s instructions, these ovens typically require you to pour a cup of water into the bottom of the oven and then run the steam cleaning cycle. The water boils and becomes steam, turning the inside of the oven into a sauna that loosens food residue from the walls and floor of the appliance. After approximately 30 minutes, the cycle is complete and you can wipe out the loosened residue with a damp cloth.

Textured Ovens

Also called continuous cleaning ovens, textured ovens have a special surface designed to burn spills off gradually as you continue to use the oven. Wiping down the inside of the appliance with a damp cloth is all it takes to clean textured ovens. Do this often to keep up with spills as they happen and maintain a clean oven. Never use abrasive cleaners, scouring pads or oven cleaners in textured ovens.

Non-Self-Cleaning Ovens

If you’re not fortunate enough to have an oven with self-cleaning technology, never fear – the right products and a little elbow grease can still allow you to achieve a clean oven for the holidays. The traditional option is to follow the instructions on a bottle of chemical oven cleaner. If you use this method, open the kitchen windows for ventilation as you clean.

You can also use a “green” oven cleaning method: first coat the oven floor, door and walls with a baking soda and water paste. Leave the past overnight so it has plenty of time to loosen the gunk. The following day, wipe out as much of the dried paste as possible. Then spray vinegar on the remaining baking soda paste to create a foamy reaction. Scrub the oven with a sponge, brush or plastic scrubbing pad and wipe away the goopy, black residue with a damp cloth to reveal the clean oven underneath.

Oven Racks

Regardless of what type of oven you have, the best way to clean the metal racks is to remove them from the oven entirely and soak them in boiling water with a little dishwasher detergent. The bathtub is a suitable place to soak oven racks, though you may want to clean the tub afterwards! After soaking for two hours, scrub the racks with a stiff brush. Rinse and dry the racks before returning them to the oven.

Once you have a clean oven, you’re ready to move on to the next step for holiday prep: cleaning the fridge.