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Four ways to clean your post-Thanksgiving oven and make it sparkle

(StockSnap Photo)

Cleaning your oven is a necessity now and then – particularly after Thanksgiving dinner when more food than usual drips out of roasting pans to sizzle on oven walls.

Here are some popular methods along with tips on making this tough job easier. And if you tidy up the oven now and then with soapy water whenever you roast or bake, the big cleaning jobs will be easier in the long run.

Using the oven’s self-cleaning cycle

Some ovens don’t have this cycle, and some homeowners don’t want to use it even if they have it because of high heat the oven generates for cleaning.

But if you use the self-clean process, remove any foil from the oven — along with pans that could be damaged by heat. Remove the oven racks or they may discolor during cleaning. Wipe up loose soil in the oven.

Then follow instructions in your appliance manual to start the self-clean cycle.

Some newer ovens will let you set a shorter cleaning time than usual – a good thing if your oven’s not too dirty. The door should lock shut until cleaning is finished, and the oven cools down.

It’s a good idea not to leave the house while self-cleaning is going on.

Buying an oven cleaner at the supermarket

Lots of oven cleaners are on the market. Most are very strong and caustic, but can remove heavy dirt. I

t’s essential to cover the floor and nearby surfaces before using them. Wear rubber gloves, goggles and old clothes for this job.

Years ago, oven cleaners used to require heavy heating of the ovens while using these products. Today’s versions often don’t need that and seem less smelly.

Using straight ammonia 

Try this only on electric ovens.

Warm up the oven to 150 degrees. Turn it off and put a half cup of colorless ammonia in a bowl on the top shelf and a pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf. Close the door and let the oven sit overnight.

The next morning, you can wipe the oven clean with a mixture of ammonia and a little dish soap. (Ammonia, by the way, is the liquid most often used in window cleaners.)

Trying the baking soda and vinegar method 

Variations of this are all over the Internet and Martha Stewart has endorsed the concept, but some homeowners complain it’s difficult to get the baking soda off the oven afterward.

First, mix a couple spoonfuls of baking soda with water to create a paste to spread over the walls of your empty oven. Let the oven sit 12 hours; the paste may turn brown.

With a wet rag or sponge, wipe out the paste. Use vinegar to sponge surfaces where the baking soda gets stuck.

Use the baking soda on the oven’s window and let it sit for 30 minutes before wiping off.

Another oven cleaning problem is the dirty racks. Some methods suggest soaking the racks in vinegar and soapy water overnight. That’s hard to do in the average-size kitchen sink, but you could try it in your bathtub.

For more DIY tips and information for all the projects around your house, home, castle or cabin, visit Arizona’s largest collection of homeowner DIY advice and information at

And if you are in need of a quality contractor you know you can trust, visit our list of Arizona’s very best contractors or service providers for your home improvement projects at –- Arizona’s most trusted referral network.

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