It's a holiday morning and you get up before everyone else to start cooking in peace. You preheat your oven and start prepping your turkey. Then, “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!” Followed by smoke and hastily awoken judgmental in-laws. "How could you have burned something already?" they demand. Although it's noon somewhere, it's too soon to crack open the wine. Luckily, this kind of stress can be easily avoided with a little pre-holiday oven and stove maintenance.
Determine if your oven door has a tight seal and that its hinges are strong
Loose seals or weak hinges on your oven door can lead to heat loss resulting in foods taking longer to cook or cooking unevenly. To check your oven, make sure it’s off and completely cool.
- Open the oven door and locate the gasket that goes around the perimeter. Feel around for any warped, torn, or broken areas. Keep these areas in mind for the next step.
- Heat your oven, and then place something that sizzles in the hot oven. Since oven seals are meant to hold in heat and sound, check the perimeter of your oven door paying particular attention to any suspected problem areas you found. If you hear crackling or feel more heat in the problem areas, this may mean your oven's seal isn't working well and may need replacement. Finally, push against the door and see if that reduces the heat and sound. If it does, this could indicate that your oven door's hinges aren't strong.
Check your oven's internal light bulbs
If you find that at least one of the bulbs is burnt out, you can remove the bulb to determine replacement type, or refer to your owner's manual for that information. Most oven bulbs are universal 40-watt appliance bulbs. Note: Do not turn on your oven light if there isn't a light bulb in there.
Cleaning the inside of your oven
Self-cleaning ovens work by raising the temperature inside the oven to a very high temperature for about two to four hours. This turns all the debris in the oven to ash. If your oven has a self-cleaning feature, refer to your owner's manual for instructions. Do not clean the inside of a self-cleaning oven by any other method unless approved by the manufacturer or owner's manual. If using the self-cleaning feature, use it a few days before you start your holiday cooking. This process can make your house smell and possibly set off your smoke alarms.
Most standard oven cleaners will get the job done. A more natural way of cleaning your oven is to use baking soda and vinegar. First, make sure that everything in the oven is removed, including the oven racks. Then, in a bowl, make a paste by combining baking soda and water. Use an abrasive pad to rub the paste all over the inside of the oven. Gently spray vinegar over the pasted surface and allow it to fizz. This will loosen the debris, so you can scrub it all away.
Clean or replace all vent filters over your stove
Metal-mesh grease filters can either be washed by hand with dish soap or can be placed in the dishwasher. If they're made out of charcoal or paper, they should be replaced.
Clean the knobs
Use a damp rag with a little dish detergent. Replace the knobs if you're no longer able to read what they say.
Cleaning the cooktop
Make sure you only use cleaning products appropriate for your cooktop material. Use a soft, slightly moistened washcloth. Do not pour the product directly on the surface. Below are a couple of examples of home remedies:
For a glass top stove, spray some white vinegar on a damp washcloth to remove any grease and debris. Then, lightly cover the surface with baking soda. Once that's done, cover the entire cooktop with a warm damp towel. Let sit for about 15 minutes, then gently scrub removing all the baking soda. You can go over the stove again with the white vinegar for finishing.
To clean stove grates and drip pans, use gallon-size plastic zipper storage bags and ammonia. For each bag, fill halfway with ammonia and add one or two grates or one drip pan. Thoroughly seal the bag. Let sit overnight or 8-12 hours. Rinse away the baked-on grime the next day.
Whew! Now, you have a beautiful oven and stove that are a lot more likely to perform without incident for the holidays and days to come!