How to Clean an Oven

Cleaning your oven helps keep it in peak operating condition. Because ovens come in several types, you choose the best cleaning method for your oven based on its type. For example, ovens can be gas or electric, self-cleaning, and even continuously cleaning.

Cleaning an electric oven

An electric oven has two heating elements: one for broiling (above) and one for baking (below). If possible, buy a model that allows you to lift the bottom bake element for easier cleaning of the bottom of the oven.

Open the oven door 8 to 10 inches and try lifting. Most ovens have special hinges that allow the door to lift right off. You can then easily clean deep in the oven's interior without stretching over the lowered open oven door. You also can clean the glass and the inside surface of the door on a towel at countertop level.

Cleaning a gas oven

You can use this people-friendly oven cleaner to make the inside of your gas oven sparkle.

  • 2 teaspoons borax or baking soda

  • 2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid

  • 11⁄4 cups ammonia

  • 11⁄2 cups hot water

Mix the ingredients, apply generously to spills, and let soak for 30 minutes or as long as overnight. Loosen tough spills with a nylon scrubber and then wipe up with a damp sponge.

The bottom of a gas oven requires the most cleaning. You can remove the bottom panel simply by lifting it out or by removing a couple of screws that hold it in place.

With the oven bottom out, inspect and clean the gas burner. To determine how the burner is working, turn it on with the bottom panel off. If the flame isn't continuous along both sides of the burner, some of its holes are clogged. Turn off the oven control and insert a wire — such as a coat hanger — into the clogged holes.

After the gas burner is clean, check to make sure that it's burning efficiently — a steady blue 1-inch cone, with an inner cone of about 1/2 inch. The air shutter, which you can adjust, controls the air mixture and, in turn, the color of the flame. Consult your owner's manual for information about how to adjust the burner flame in your gas oven.

Cleaning a self-cleaning electric oven

Never use a commercial oven cleaner on a self-cleaning oven. These harsh cleaners can pit, burn, and eat into the porcelain surface. The result? When you reach the normal 850- to 900-degree level for self-cleaning, you can actually pop chunks of porcelain off the oven walls.

Instead, let the intended high heat action turn food spills into carbon, which all but disappears with complete combustion, and then wipe up any minor dust-like ash residue with a damp cloth, paper towel, or sponge when the oven cools.

Don't open the oven door if you notice a flame-up or smell something burning. The oven is doing what it's supposed to do. If you're really worried, shut the oven off. The lack of oxygen in the closed and sealed oven and diminishing heat level will extinguish any burning in a matter of moments.

You can clean the area surrounding the oven door gasket with a mild abrasive. With a wide spatula or paint scraper, lift up the gasket edge to prevent rubbing against it and possible fraying.

Manufacturers recommend removing racks during the self-cleaning process to prevent the racks from turning brown.

Cleaning a continuous-cleaning oven

Continuous-cleaning ovens have a special rough-texture porcelain interior. Spills gradually burn off as you use the oven. A speckled surface helps hide foods while they burn off, but these ovens may not always look clean in the process.

Combusted foods tend to remain on the oven walls. To prevent this problem, wipe up large spills as soon as the oven cools — especially sugary or starchy foods. These models work best on greasy spills.

Never use harsh abrasives, scouring pads, or commercial oven cleaners on continuous-cleaning ovens. These cleaners damage the special lining. Gentle cleaning by hand with baking soda and warm water works best.

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