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Keeping your oven clean – how do you cope with the grime?

From high-tech gels and foams to tried-and-tested home remedies, how do you make sure your oven stays spick and span? And how often is necessary to keep your oven in top condition?

We’re gearing up to testing oven cleaners again. So we’re wondering how often you clean your ovens and if you have any top tips on what you use and find works well?

We’re also keen to hear about any home remedy tricks you use – such as soda crystals or bicarbonate of soda.

Oven cleaning confession time

The first ovens I ever came into real contact with (as in, I actually attempted, occasionally, to cook things in them) were when I was a student. I have to say it didn’t cross my mind that they should – or could – be cleaned.

Renting rooms in flats later on, it did start to dawn on me that the inside of the oven wasn’t improving over time.

Then it came to the first oven I owned. Our relationship blossomed after I discovered that what I’d dimly thought was the oven function was actually the grill. To be fair, the markings had long since rubbed off the dial.

Then it came to cleaning it. I honestly forget what product I used, but hours of chasing brown foam around the interior of its crusted cave of an interior didn’t seem to result in much improvement.

Grime and bear it

Nowadays, I’ve realised that prevention is far better than cure – so I try to stop food getting onto the oven in the first place. The oven’s not new enough to have a pyrolytic lining that can burn encrusted food off, so a bit of scrubbing and cajoling is still in order if I do spill something.

I hate the thought of chucking out things before they’re finished, so I’m still working through my ‘legacy’ oven cleaner, before promptly switching to a Which? Best Buy. Although now I think about the next clean, perhaps I should ditch the old one right now.

There must be better ways of doing this, and I feel sure you’ll know them. So please tell us what you use and how often you use it – you may influence what we end up testing.

Comments
Member

As Richard says, prevention is better than cure. If food does get spilt, do the cleaning promptly and it is not a difficult job to keep an oven in respectable condition for years without the need for any fancy cleaners.

I would like to see the sale aerosol cans containing sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) banned. If you get this on your skin it feels soapy because your skin is dissolving. Imagine what would happen if you get it in your eyes.

Member

This is exactly what was revealed when we tested all-in-one cleaners back in 2009. Our advice for best results is to clean spills as soon as they happen. Having said that, it is a bit trickier to do this with an oven as you have to wait it to cool.

Member

Totally agree. The easiest way to clean your oven is to buy a kit from Lakeland which includes a large soaking tray, but don’t buy the gel it has a milder form of caustic in it. Also ovenkit do the same tray but have a non caustic liquid which works very well, a bit more elbow grease is needed, but worth it.

Member

Keep my eyes closed!!

But seriously I use a micro-wave – which cooks faster – and doesn’t cake the inside – a quick wipe after use ensures constant cleanliness.

Member

pyrolytic linings are fine but there is still the door window and the inside of the door which is usually a pretty enamel and the shelves to take out and clean.
I heard someone suggest on the radio putting a bowl of hot water in after you took the roast out (if you always remember when serving a meal). This emulsifies the fat deposit so it is easier to clean. Maybe you could have it as a control method for your test.

Member
Laura says:
20 February 2012

I clean my oven every month with liquid soda crystals. Because I do it so often (and it hardly takes any time) I don’t have to bother with the hardcore oven cleaners that you need a hazmat suit just to pick up. I soak the shelves and grill pan in a hot soda crystal solution overnight which makes them dead easy to clean with a scourer in the morning, spray the inside of the oven with the liquid soda crystals, wait an hour then clean up – dead easy.

Member

I’m afraid that the easiest way I’ve ever found to keep a regularly used oven clean was the method I used when I lived in China. I employed a wonderful Ayi to clean my kitchen from top-to-bottom 3 times per week. Nothing ever got dirty and I had a lovely sparkly oven every day. Prevention is better than cure and regular cleaning gets better results than a once in a lifetime binge.
When I have to do it myself however I am more of a binge cleaner. I usually clean my microwave and normal oven by putting a bowl of hot water with a half a lemon in the oven and turning them on to produce loads of steam.
I had heard that steam cleaners are brilliant for shifting grime, so when I was gearing up for project managing a Which? test of hand-held steam cleaners I tried a hand-held one on the inside of my combination microwave – it’s 6 years old, is used for grilling and convection cooking nearly every day and I’m afraid is no longer sparkly and new looking on the inside. I also tried it on my conventional oven.
The steam cleaner did a good job of loosening grease, but didn’t make it any easier to wipe it away or get a sparkling finish. It was absolutely useless at shifting any baked on grime – I spent at least half an hour directing steam into the microwave until it was completely soggy and really scrubbing it, but it didn’t shift the really long-standing hard-core deposits.
We found the same problem when we sent them to the lab and tried cleaning ovens which had been treated with baked on grime according to the British Standard. None of the steam cleaners could shift it, but our previous Best Buy Lakeland Oven Mate did.
I might go and buy some of that and see if it makes my microwave all sparkly again…

Member

Victoria wrote: I employed a wonderful Ayi to clean my kitchen from top-to-bottom 3 times per week

It’s all right for some. I’m surprised that your cook did not take care of this. 🙂

Member

I have to say I hate cleaning our oven, it’s one of my least favourite chores (up there with cleaning the toilet!(. The last time I did it I used soapy water, but it was a bit too dirty for that to be really effective, so I used some Mr Muscle spray and it did a good enough job, but I wasn’t keen on the smell.

It needs doing again, so I might try some of the suggestions on here before resorting to the harsher chemical products this time. I’m also tempted to buy some of those magic oven liners.. 🙂