Zen and the Art of Oven Cleaning

photo: Erica Herd

I’ve been meaning to clean the stove for six years. We moved into the house seven years ago. Every time I’m about to clean the oven, it seems something comes up or I think of something more important to do. This afternoon I was filled with the spirit of the oven. I had to do it, no excuses. There were 2 cans of oven cleaner under the kitchen sink—CVS brand and a name brand. I asked my husband Lorin which to use and he said, “The one with the blue top.” That was the name brand. Opening the top revealed a nest of fuzzy crud that didn’t bode well, so I opted for the CVS brand cleaner. Cleaning an oven is not a task to be taken lightly. You have to abide by the rules:

  1. make sure the oven is cold
  2. do not spray cleaner near an open flame
  3. lay newspapers or paper towels on floor to catch the drippings
  4. wear “long” rubber gloves
  5. open the windows
  6. shake well and spray 8 to 10 inches from surface
  7. close the oven door and wait 2 hours
  8. after 2 hours, wipe with paper towels, a rag or sponge and lots of warm water

In addition to the rubber gloves, I wore an apron and covered my nose and mouth with a bandana. The “domestic outlaw” look is popular this year. It was also necessary to move the pet food dishes and water bowl into the dining room and keep the cats out of the kitchen. I waited the requisite 2 hours—enough time to watch the entirety of August, Osage County on cable—and began Phase 2: the wiping down. Buckets of water and a sponge and scads of paper towels later, this phase was complete. It was a very satisfying experience, seriously. The results were tangible. Before: caked on mess, grime, oven grease. After: smooth, clean surfaces, not sparkling, but noticeably improved. If only all of life could be so simple. Why did I wait so long to clean the oven? Were there really so many more important things to do, or I was simply being lazy? I love baking and enjoy cooking, so a clean oven is a source of pride.

Right now we don’t have the cash for home improvements, but that doesn’t mean simple, concrete tasks can’t be accomplished, tasks that improve our surroundings and how we feel about our environment and ourselves. I can’t control Congress, but I can control my kitchen. It all starts with an oven.


6 thoughts on “Zen and the Art of Oven Cleaning

  1. It’s a true art and I’m not good at it. When it comes to cleaning I get as far as carpet cleaning (my actual job). I appreciate all the help I can get about the oven because I hate scrubbing (who doesn’t?) Thanks for sharing ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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