The more you put off cleaning an appliance -- like the dreaded oven, the more the grime -- and dread -- builds up. But keeping it clean is critical from an aesthetic and a practical standpoint. Without proper maintenance, fuel ports and hood vents can clog and ovens can smoke.
Here, then, is Martha's step-by-step guide for taking the stove top, vent hood, and oven from grease-spattered and blackened to gleaming overnight. Her method requires no more than a couple of hours of active time and a few cleaning products (and most of the productsare chemical free). Should you need added incentive, consider this: "If you thoroughly clean the oven, and then maintain it after every use," Martha says, "you should never have to do such a dirty job again."
The hood clears the air of smoke and grease from everyday cooking, but they can leave their mark. Over time, stains can build up and vents can clog. Clean the exterior of the hood weekly and the filters monthly.
Using a soft cloth dipped in hot, soapy water (dishwashing liquid is fine), clean the hood; wipe off with a clean damp cloth.
Follow these steps for getting the most spatter-prone part of the oven sparkling again. This technique is meant for gas stove tops (for electric ones, please see our Electric Stove Top tips.
Take off grates, griddles, and other removable parts. If the residue is not heavy, skip to the next slide. Should you have serious burned-on spills, place parts on a newspaper outside or in a well-ventilated area and spray with a commercial oven cleaner, following manufacturer's instructions. Let sit a few hours or overnight.
Spatters and drips are inevitable. Here's how to tackle the oven (whether or not yours has a self-cleaning function) if you've neglected it awhile.
Take the racks out even if you are using your oven's self-cleaning function; the heat during the cycle can warp racks.
You've conquered the big job -- the oven. But the task of cleaning these little cookers can feel out of proportion with their modest size. The good news: With five minutes and these techniques, you can get them looking new.
Unplug the toaster, and use a thin, soft brush to remove crumbs stuck inside.
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