To Clean or Not to Self Clean, That is the Question?

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are all around the corner and what’s on everyone’s minds… Turkey, Pumpkin Pie, that wacky Green Bean Casserole.  You open your oven and find:

yuck

A Nasty mess indeed. Rooted Blessings shows the inside of a particularly neglected electric oven in desperate need of some TLC.  What’s your first inclination two days before the big turkey party… Hit the Oven Self-Clean Button and go about your business for the next 5-6 hours.

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Stop right there baking buddies. The self-clean function on your oven might be a glorious invention that takes the grease out of elbow grease but there’s one major flaw: Self-Cleaning Ovens Get Really, Really Hot! So hot the thermal fuse that protects you and your kitchen’s from burning down can sometimes trigger and go out meaning no more oven. So when your the host of a holiday party for 20 and those pies aren’t going in today and the roast beast can’t get above blue-rare tomorrow you’re in trouble. Another sign you’re in trouble the oven may lock you out. The good news is you have a friendly neighborhood appliance repair like De Anza Appliance that can help you fix that; the bad news if it’s the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week or Christmas Eve chances are dozens if not hundreds of others have just hit that self-clean button in a several block radius of your home and found the same failure. Appliance repair companies get flooded with oven repair requests the third week of November through the first week of January and end up booking up one sometimes two weeks out.

So there’s an easy answer… DO NOT USE THE SELF-CLEAN FUNCTION before a major holiday party. I’m sorry for shouting but we get the same call year in and year out from good intentioned home cooks creating unnecessary oven repair calls.  The fix isn’t extraordinarily difficult for a skilled technician to replace a fuse, the parts are pretty darn cheap but they bring an oven to a screaming halt.

Ok so you want your kitchens (and ovens) to sparkle like Martha Stuart’s.  We have to put some of that grease back into the elbows (it’s not as bad as you think). It takes a few simple ingredients and steps courtesy of Cha Ching Queen:ChachingQueen.com

  1. Take out the racks.
  2. Mix 2 parts distilled (filtered) water with 1 part white vinegar in a spray bottle.
  3. Liberally spray the interior of the oven including the door but make sure to not hit the elements or igniters. Those can be delicate and damaging them defeats the purpose of not self-cleaning and causes a trip to the appliances parts store or a call to your friendly neighborhood appliance repair company.
  4. Get baking powder everywhere you sprayed (again don’t hit the elements or igniters we don’t want residue baking onto our heating devices).  The key here is not mix the vinegar and baking soda, but to layer it.
  5. Get some course salt onto areas affected by large amounts of food residue.
  6. Spray one more time with the vinegar solution and let sit over night.
  7. Scrub down with a standard course kitchen pad, wipe down with a towel and voila clean oven!

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Bonus Time: An adapted cleaning solution from the oven works wonders in a dirty microwave. Practically Functional gives the dirt on restoring your microwave to practically new.

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They talk about diluting the vinegar it with water and adding oils; just get down and dirty and fill up a microwave safe bowl or cup with white vinegar and get to town.  Nuking the vinegar for five minutes and letting the microwave steam for a few minutes loosens up all the grime and food particles.  Grab that brillo pad or sponge you used on the oven give the microwave a quick wipe down and it will look pearly white. Holidays or otherwise it’s important to keep food residue out of the cavity.  First flavor transference can adversely affect the taste of reheated foods.  Secondly if food splatters get to the diffuser plate or wave guide it could start a fire or overload the heating components. Major heating components like the magnetron, capacitor, and diode aren’t cost effective microwave repairs.

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You might read some articles about using using vinegar and bleach as cleaning solutions.  They work well separately but they do not mix. About Education demonstrates the chemistry of combining of these solutions and the result toxic chlorine gas. Don’t do it.

So keep De Anza Appliance out of your home this holiday season with these simple all-natural cleaning tips for your oven and microwave. And if it still seems like too much work keep your mother-in-law out of the kitchen and hit the Self-Clean feature after the party’s over.

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