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How to Make your Oven Racks Sparkle

Oven cleaning is something we offer, either as part of a deep clean or as a one off service. Most people expect us to turn up with a bag full of specialised products but in actual fact the only thing you really need to do a decent job are a couple of products you will almost certainly have under your sink and a bit of elbow grease. At Sparkle Sisters we have tried a range of different products for a variety of house cleaning activities and frequently end up coming back to "mothers own" recipes or regular domestic products that you can pick up from your local supermarket. Sure, you can get highly concentrated commercial cleaning products by the gallon for a relatively small price but whilst these might be fine for a warehouse floor, they are not really suitable for your kitchen.

Anyway, back to oven cleaning, you've probably heard it before but it's not smart to run your oven's self-clean function before you go to cook your Sunday dinner. For one, it really stinks and secondly, you'll spend half the afternoon fanning the smoke detector with a copy of Hello magazine. And there's a better way to do it, we have a completely safe, natural, and effective way to clean your oven. No harsh chemicals and no high-heat auto-cleaning with smoke detector funny business. It takes a little time and some elbow grease, but the payoff is well worth it.

When I first moved into my house, the oven was coated with a suspicious black, sticky grime. It was as if someone had roasted a dozen chickens directly on the rack. My first instinct was to run the auto-cleaning setting which basically turns up the heat to a point where anything left inside is burnt to a crisp, which you can then wipe out once it cools. It kind of works, but in some cases actually makes everything worse, and in our case, set off the smoke detectors, which really helped build a rapport with the neighbours.

What's the alternative? You can buy extremely harsh chemicals that will eat through any remaining debris, but the fumes are strong enough to singe off your eyebrows and, as they are designed to cut through any carbon based deposits, you'll find it does a really good job of removing your skin in the same way. Instead, you can clean your oven naturally with a little vinegar, baking soda, and our old friend elbow grease! Here's how I did it.

What You Need
  • Baking soda

  • Water

  • Rubber gloves

  • Damp dish cloth

  • Plastic or silicone spatula

  • Spray bottle

  • White vinegar

Instructions
  1. Empty the oven: Remove your oven racks, baking trays, oven thermometer, and anything else you have inside the oven. Set aside.

  2. Make a baking soda paste: In a small bowl, mix a 1/2 cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water. Adjust the ratio of both as needed until you have a spreadable paste. For me this took about 3 tablespoons of water to get the desired spreadable consistency.

  3. Coat your oven: Spread the paste all over the interior surfaces of your oven, steering clear of the heating elements. I used gloves for this portion, as my oven was pretty grimy. It helped me really get in there and coat the dirtiest nooks and crannies without having to worry about all that grime under my nails. The baking soda will turn a brownish color as you rub it in; it also might be chunkier in some places than others, which is fine. Just try to coat the whole oven to the best of your abilities, paying extra attention to any particularly greasy areas.

  4. Let it sit overnight: Allow the baking soda mixture to rest for at least 12 hours, or overnight.

  5. Clean your oven racks: Meanwhile, clean your oven racks. You can use the same stuff to clean these but I find some hot water and a pan scourer or Brillo pad does the trick just fine.

  6. Wipe out the oven: After 12 hours or overnight, take a damp dish cloth and wipe out as much of the dried baking soda paste as you can. Use a plastic or silicone spatula to help scrape off the paste as needed. I found that the damp cloth was enough for me, but a spatula might come in handy in those hard-to-reach places.

  7. Spray a little vinegar: Put a little vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz everywhere you still see baking soda residue in your oven. The vinegar will react with the baking soda and gently foam.

  8. Do a final wipe-down: Take your damp cloth and wipe out the remaining foamy vinegar-baking soda mixture. Repeat until all the baking soda residue is gone. Add more water or vinegar as needed while wiping to really get the oven clean and shiny.

  9. Replace your oven racks: Replace the oven racks and anything else you keep in your oven, and you're done!

Et voila, a spotlessly clean oven for the sake of a couple of quid and an hours graft.

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