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How to Clean an Oven

cleaning the oven
It can be a dirty job, but someone's got to do it. Ansgar Photography/Getty Images

It's finally time to clean your oven. Yay.

Look, we understand the inherent lack of fun in such a laborious activity, but a clean oven means a cleaner household with fewer harmful fumes infiltrating your kitchen and food. With little more than baking soda and vinegar, you can give your oven the kind of makeover that'll eviscerate grease, dirt and burned-on odor. Here's how it's done.

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  1. Don a pair of rubber gloves before starting.
  2. Choose the best cleaning agent. Whether you have baking soda and vinegar on hand or want to spring for the professional-grade stuff, the first step in oven maintenance is preparation.
  3. Remove any debris. We're talking chunks of food, chipped-off pizza crust, lone pepperonis, and generally anything that can be removed by hand. Clear all that stuff out and toss it in the trash.
  4. Take out your oven racks. For those who didn't know you could actually remove oven racks, surprise! For a deep, deep clean, you can take out your oven racks and stick them in a bathtub or large sink. Soak your racks in dishwasher detergent and boiling water. Let them sit for about two hours. Scrub with a stiff brush before returning to the oven. In lieu of a full bathtub cleanse, you can sprinkle baking soda on your oven racks and then spritz with white vinegar. Scrub with a good, stiff brush.
  5. Make a paste. Spread a thick paste of 2 cups baking soda and 3/4 cup water on the inside of your oven. Allow the paste to sit for six to eight hours before scrubbing it clean. If you're using a commercial cleaner, spray it all over the oven from a distance of 9-12 inches (22-30 centimeters), close the oven door and leave it for two hours. Then wipe clean with paper towels or a wet cloth.
  6. Or try a self-cleaning oven. Most ovens with a self-clean feature require only a couple of hours for a good-as-new look that'll save your food from taking on any nasty odor. Plus, the clean-up will be minimal. Follow the directions in your oven's manual for how to use your oven's self-clean feature, should it have one.
  7. Don't forget the oven doors. Spray the outside of the oven doors with some white vinegar or commercial cleaner to make them shine. On the inside you can clean them with that baking soda and water paste. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before cleaning.

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