This last week, I've been deep cleaning my kitchen. I was inspired by A Bowl Full of Lemons who has a kitchen challenge going on. I'm not really taking part of that challenge, but after reading her post about her beautifully organized and clean kitchen, I woke up the next day and scrubbed my floors. I'm talking on my knees, scrubbing, and sweating, but in the end, it was so worth it. My floor needed it and the family was pretty impressed. Points for the mama! The next day I rearranged and organized the cupboards and counters; then the next day I cleaned my oven and microwave. That's what this post is all about- cleaning your oven using a non-toxic method. I love when I'm inspired to clean, and so does my family.
Look at those floors!
When it comes to cleaning the oven, I know that most of you have opted to use your self-cleaning feature. I have a new oven with the same feature, but I have two problems when it comes to pushing that button.
Problems #1. We have a bird. His name is Pumpkin because he was born late in the Fall. Cute, right? Well, don't be fooled. We call him Poop-kin because, you know, birds are pretty messy. He was a Christmas gift for our oldest daughter who begged us for a bird for about 2 years. She loves birds. Pumpkin loves her and hates the rest of us. I don't hold a grudge though. We buy him food, whistle to him, and speak sweetly to him. He returns our affections with his beautiful bird singing (when my daughter is around), but it's quickly followed by hissing and trying to bite if we get to close. Birds are a one person pet...so we've learned. Anyways, the first thing we were told after getting Pumpkin was don't use the self-cleaning function on the oven with the bird in the house. Hundred of birds die each year after breathing in the fumes from ovens that are self-cleaning. Very sad. Their little feathered bodies just can't handle it. Here's what you find on an Avian website.
Do not run the self-cleaning cycle on ovens when birds are around.
Self-cleaning ovens are lined with PTFE (Teflon) and reach 900 degrees
Fahrenheit during the self-cleaning cycle and emit gasses into the air
that kill birds rather quickly.
Problem #2. So if the self-cleaning cycle is toxic for birds, couldn't it be toxic for humans? YES. A big fat YES. Self cleaning ovens are lined with Telfon, created by the Dupont company- a company whose employees have had their share of health problems. No wonder. When Teflon is heated up, especially when we're talking 900 degrees F. it emits gasses into the air. These gases are carcinogens and those toxins are not easily flushed out of our systems. By 2015, the major chemical in Teflon (PTFE) will be phased out due to new standards, but not until then.
(For more information, I read a great post from Mommy Footprints
about the harmful effects of the self cleaning cycle on humans.)
So don't use the self-cleaning cycle on the oven. It's bad, bad, bad for your pets, kids, and you! Today, I'll show you how I EASILY got my oven clean. It was by trial and error, but I figured out a really good formula that I will use every time from now on. First the before pictures, and please don't judge me. I use my oven a lot during the winter and since we're coming upon that time of year again soon, I knew it was time to clean this baby.
But wait...there's more!
Ok, so you get the picture. Pretty gross, and that's just from 1 year. We are a well fed family obviously. You want to see the afters? I really can't believe the results myself. This was all done with my own non-toxic, home made cleaner.
And really, there' wasn't hours of scrubbing. So here's what I did. When you google how to clean your ovens naturally or search on blogs and Pinterest, everyone says to clean your oven using just baking soda and water. You're supposed to make a paste combing the two and let it sit for 15 minutes up to 1 hour. Everyone says this works. I tried it. It doesn't. Well, it does if you want to scrub and scrub and scrub. I don't want to do that.
Cleaning using baking soda and water. It doesn't work that well.
Here's the baking soda and water method. I let it sit for about 30 minutes. When I went to "lightly" scrub it off, the oven door was still yellow from several dinners many moons ago.
You can see from these pictures that I actually broke through the grease on the glass door, but I really had to scrub to get it off. I sat there for a moment thinking this isn't working...at all. I don't want to spent the day cleaning an oven door. What can cut through this grease? And the answer came quickly- Dawn Dish Soap. I poured a little bit on, sprayed some water on the glass to mix it in with the baking soda and let it sit another 15 minutes. It worked.
Dawn is known to "cut the grease". I've unfortunately seen the effects of a few oil spills in my day and we've all seen pictures of those sweet innocent animals covered in black goo. They bathe them in Dawn to get through all that oil. So, if it works for them, it can work here! And it did! The problem was that I didn't do the rest of the oven. So the next day, I came up with this method of cleaning the oven.
Here's what you'll need:
1 and 1/2 cups of baking soda
1/4 cup of Dawn Dish soap
Spray bottle of water
Mix the baking soda and Dawn dish soap. Add just enough water to make a liquid paste, kind of like blue icing.
Sorry for the fuzzy picture. I don't know what happened here. I used a sponge paint brush to get my mixture all over the inside of my oven. It was easy to "paint" it on instead of using a spoon.
Here it is; all covered in my home made oven cleaner. Now the easy part. Let it sit there for hours, over night if you want. A self-cleaning oven has a cycle of about 5 hours, so there's really no difference except this won't hurt you. The secret here is to spray it with water every few hours. Baking soda has a tendency to "cake" so you want to get the soda back to a liquid-like form. I sprayed mine twice then went to bed, woke up, sprayed with water again, then let it sit another hour. I used the scrubby side of a sponge to scrub the oven. It gets really foamy, so you'll have to clean your sponge a few times.
Those gross food spots all over the oven, literally scrub off pretty easily. It won't be perfect or look brand new, but I liked my results. Once you've cleaned an area to your satisfaction, wipe off the cleaning solution with a dry towel. It will be easier than adding water and trying to wipe it off with your sponge. It just gets to soapy in there.
Once my oven was cleaned, I turned it on to 350 degrees (F) for about ten minutes. This was to make sure I got all the solution out. It will cake up if you have extra and you can just wipe that off once it cools down.
So there you have it. I'm thrilled with my results! I have a clean oven ready to be used this winter!
Tomorrow, I'll show you a quick and easy way to get your microwave clean. Have a great weekend.