Whether you’re gearing up to bake Thanksgiving dinner for your entire extended family, or you’re just excited to dive headfirst into a bowl of hot potato stew, you’re going to need an oven that works to make it happen. Here are some oven maintenance tips to prevent your oven from breaking down at the worst possible time.
Oven Maintenance Tips
In the world of appliances, fall is the season of emergency oven repairs. Every year countless people go to prepare their holiday meals only to find out last-minute that their appliance is broken, or worse, completely dead. Don’t let your oven stop you from your fall cooking. Use these oven maintenance tips to prevent oven breakdown.
Start With Your Range Top
Most ovens today are sold along with a range top or cooktop. No matter if you’re using a gas range top, electric range top, or a smooth glass cooktop, keeping your cooking surface clean is the key to proper maintenance and preventing any unnecessary repairs.
Gas surface burners are the most susceptible to damage from food, liquid, and other debris. Start by removing the grates and washing them in the sink using dishwashing liquid and a non-abrasive sponge. Next, remove and spills from the range top surface using another sponge, and use a paperclip to poke through the individual fuel ports on your burners to keep them from getting blocked over time.
If your unit is electric, begin by removing the surface burner coils and the grease bowls beneath them. The bowls can be washed in the sink with a mild cleaner, but as for the coils themselves, just use a wet sponge with no cleaning products to wipe them as clean as possible. Give the parts plenty of time to completely dry out again before reinstalling them into your range top.
For glass cooktops, the best practice for cleaning is to purchase a bottle of glass cooktop cleaner, using a non-abrasive pad to scrape away any burnt-on food or debris. For extreme cases, you can even use a razor blade to gently scrape away the most troublesome food particles, but be careful!
Clean the Rest of Your Oven’s Exterior
Once you’ve unplugged the oven, start by using a non-abrasive sponge or scratch-free pad along with a small amount of a mild non-toxic cleaning solution to remove any residue or spills from the outer door. This will prevent any permanent staining when the oven heats up during operation.
Now comes the tricky part. You need to clean your control knobs and whatever gunk has built up behind them. But wait, don’t pull the knobs completely off! Use a similar non-abrasive sponge or scrubber to gently wash away any built-up grime from the control knob facade, and clean up as much of the debris from behind the knobs as possible. You may even want to use some q-tips to get as much off as you can.
The problem with removing the knobs completely is that it can do damage to the control valves that they attach to, especially if any water or cleaner is still on the knobs when they’re reinstalled. Don’t let your oven maintenance become an oven repair and do your best to clean the knobs while they’re on the unit.
How to Clean the Interior of Your Oven
The most important oven maintenance tip we can give you is to clean the interior of your oven about three to four times a year. Food particles and spills are bound to happen, and they end up on the bottom of your oven where they can cause serious damage to gas or electric models. Start by removing the oven racks. They can be taken to the kitchen sink to clean with a normal sponge and dishwashing liquid.
Do not use soap of any kind on your oven’s interior! Using soap or cleaning products inside your oven can cause all sorts of issues and part failures, especially if you plan on using the self-clean function. For cleaning the inside of your unit, start by making a paste using 3/4 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of warm water. Use a gentle brush (paintbrushes work well) to apply the paste to the interior surfaces of your oven, not including your bake or broil element, and let it sit overnight. The next day, use a plastic scraper to remove as much of the dried paste as possible, then use a wet cloth to remove the rest of what’s left behind. And voila, replace your oven racks and you’re good to go for another few months!
Carefully Use Your Oven’s Self-Clean Feature
If you don’t feel like going through the process described above, you can always use your oven’s self-cleaning function, but beware! Self-cleaning can cause many more problems than it can solve if done improperly. That’s why we recommend that you never use the self-clean feature up to two weeks before a holiday or big event.
The first step to using self-clean is to find your oven’s instruction manual or look it up online. Every oven is different, and you need to follow the instructions word-for-word if you don’t want a number of parts to break.
Once you’ve read your oven’s user manual, remove all racks and objects from inside the unit and scrape or wipe away any food, grease, or other debris from the interior surfaces. Remember how we said not to use any soaps or cleaning products inside your oven? That’s because the self-cleaning cycle gets to around 1,000 degrees, and any chemical residue can cause problems for your oven’s health, as well as your own. Once the cycle is complete, be sure to let the oven sit for around 90 minutes to let everything cool down before using it for cooking.
Regular oven maintenance can certainly help extend the life of your oven and prevent unnecessary repairs, but if you find your oven has broken down, be sure to call the area’s top appliance repair experts at Ortega’s, and we’ll take care of the hard part for you so you can get back to that delicious fall cooking!