Until I posted a funny note on Facebook about the stench coming from my self-cleaning oven, I had no idea how many of us live in fear of these appliances.
We must take back the kitchen. Show that dripped-on, over-baked, grease-stained beast of an oven who is boss. My brave daughter called last night to ask about cleaning her self-cleaning oven.
She said it stunk when she preheated it to bake cookies. She had read an article about mice making ovens their private bathroom, and that could explain why her oven stunk so bad. It made us both uncomfortable to think that rodents had been using her oven as a private sauna … and toilet.
She was afraid to use the self-cleaning button, so she cleaned it out by hand. Yuck. I’ve used the self-cleaning button on three ovens and lived to tell about it. My current oven is only a few years old, and my husband says I don’t use it enough for it to get dirty, but while baking a pizza, it smelled like I had burned many a meal cooking for the family at Downton Abbey.
We couldn’t bake Santa’s cookies in there, so I pushed the self-cleaning button and the oven did the rest. It set itself for a four-hour cleaning stint that automatically locked the oven door. (It unlatches when the oven is done). In that span of time, it basically incinerates anything in there and turns all the crud into gray dust. You do have to clean up the gray dust. Remove your racks — I forgot that part, but they are still in one piece.
The oven door and top surface will get hot. And the house also stinks when the oven is cleaning itself, so open a window and let it burn. I never leave the oven running when I leave the house — we stay until it’s done. You have to plan for it.
Here’s a link to oven cleaning info — self-cleaning and not. Here’s a statement from the self-cleaning link that might make my daughter a little more comfortable if a mouse is present: “If you own a bird, you should remove it away from the kitchen during the self-cleaning process. The fumes produced during this process are not harmful for people, but can be dangerous for birds!”
The fumes stunk and made our eyes burn at our house. I’m guessing it should at least send a mouse out of the house.
If you have instructions (I still have instructions for VCRs and appliances I no longer own), read up on cleaning, or search the Internet for your oven model. The only thing I ever had go wrong in cleaning, was an old, and I mean old oven — maybe a 1980s model — melted the heating element in the bottom of the oven during the cleaning process. With that oven, I kept V&V Appliance on West 26th Street in Erie on speed dial. Every knob, heating element and cooktop burner on that thing broke more than once. I paid for that stove twice, maybe more with the repairs. Never. Again.
Everyone seems to be cleaning ovens right about now. I read a hysterical post by a Facebook friend about cleaning her oven that included a lot of cursing and wine. The things we do to bake cookies!
In case you are wondering, that’s not my kitchen in the picture, but it is a pretty double wall oven, isn’t it? I bet it’s clean. Mine still has some gray dust in it.
Pam Parker is the editor of Lake Erie LifeStyle, Her Times and House to Home at the Erie Times-News in Erie, Pa. She is the mom of three, stepmom to three and step-grandmom to one.