Good Question: Green Cleaning the Oven

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An ATLA reader asked us this heavy duty question about oven cleaning without harsh chemicals:

Howdy AT! I've got a crusty oven that needs a good cleaning, with an assortment of old and new grease stains that won't come off using soap and water. But I've recently set out to eliminate using chemical formulated household chemicals. Do you have any recommendations about removing the gunks and chunks from a well used oven without harsh chemicals?

Sincerely,
Greasy Baked Oven

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Dear Greasy,

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First off, we commend you on your decision to eliminate harsh chemicals in your household. Your decision will benefit both the environmental quality of your home and the planet. But back to your oven cleaning dilemma. You could first try scrubbing with a degreasing formula; the Ecover Cream Scrub.

An old fashioned scrubbing paste recipe you can make yourself includes: 5 tablespoons of baking soda, 4 tablespoons of white vinegar, 3 drops of liquid soap, and a squeeze of lemon. Mix all together into thick paste and use with sponge to remove caked on stains.

Hopefully your oven has a self-cleaning option, which can tackle those extremely caked on stains, grease and grime and turn them literally to dust. But even if you don't you can approximate the self-cleaning action with a bit more time and elbow grease. Jodi Karnick of eSSortment.com recommends the following steps:

1. Fill the sink with extra-hot, soapy water and place all oven racks and broiling racks into the water.

2. If using a cleaning product, apply the cleanser to the inside of the oven.

3. Wait. Allow at least 10-minutes for the cleanser to go to work.

4. Using a damp sponge, wipe dirt, debris and grease away.

5. Rinse. It's important to remove the cleaning solution completely from the oven. Rinse thoroughly several times.

6. Turn the oven to 200-degrees. Allow it to heat for ten minutes and then turn the oven off. This will help "burn off" any leftover cleanser odor so that it doesn't seep into your food.

7. Repeat, if necessary.

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