Traditional or Cutting Edge Style?
Following on rather neatly is the actual design. Obviously a lot will depend on your physical restrictions and the existing colour scheme; you wouldn’t want a hulking black AGA in a cutting edge minimalist bijou kitchen full of miniscule objets d’art and barely enough room to swing a cat. So there will be limitations, which will help you to narrow your choices somewhat. Ovens aren’t all created following the same one dimensional blueprint. So whether you’re looking for a clean, white façade or a slightly more colourful alternative, you shouldn’t come up short.
Getting the Specification Right
If you fancy yourself as the next Mary Berry and enjoy nothing more than baking cakes and other treats for the family, the size, temperature and visibility offered by an oven is hugely important. First and foremost, you will need a window. This will enable you to see the rise of a bake without opening the door and allowing all the heat to escape. It’s not a standardised feature across all ovens, even if they do appear on the majority of designs, so always double check that the door includes a transparent glass panel.
Then comes the temperature of course. Whether you’re a baker or a budding chef, the last thing you want is to have to adjust timings or compromise on quality just because your oven is limited to 200 degrees. Sure, this might be enough for most dishes, but there are always going to be those occasional few recipes that demand 250 degrees or even more. Therefore, if you’re serious about cooking, make sure your oven matches your aspirations.
So what about size? Well, as mentioned previously, a great deal will depend on the space you have available, or indeed what you can make available within the kitchen. You may have your heart set on a large oven to allow you to cook everything all at once, but if it doesn’t fit then it won’t just be your turkey that’s stuffed at Christmas. Get out your tape measure and see what fits or what adjustments can be made to squeeze your dream oven into your kitchen.
How will it fit in with Your Kitchen?
Do you want it to be built into your cabinets, fitted under the worktop with a stove on top, will a single suffice or are you looking for a double? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer as every homeowner has their own requirements and limitations. So whether you’re going for a like-for-like replacement or having a complete re-fit, take a look at the sizes, shapes and options that are on offer.
Then of course you might fancy saving yourself some time and investing in a self-cleaning oven. At the click of a button, it will rinse away any excess grease and grime, leaving you with a (reasonably) clean interior. Now, as an oven cleaning company, you might expect us to be fully against any kind of automation; however, it is always a good idea to keep your cooker clean and free from the usual detritus – no matter how it is achieved. But, as effective as the mechanism is, it’s still far from perfect. So while you may be able to get away with reducing the frequency of thorough cleans, you won’t be able to eliminate them entirely. So be sure to bear that in mind before you make a purchase.
Value for Money
How about price then? After you’ve worked out the size, style and specification, you’ll need to have an idea of your budget. The cheapest models can be under £200, while at the top end you’re likely to be looking at four figures; however, there are plenty in between to choose from. By setting an upper limit, you can immediately eliminate or include a large number of models in an instant.
As with any major investment these days, it’s important that you seek customer and expert reviews. Occasionally they will highlight issues that aren’t made obvious in the manufacturer’s description and even make you aware of added benefits – such as good value for money or decent efficiency. There are a whole host of top brands creating a range of fantastic ovens, including Zanussi, Siemens, Hotpoint, Neff and Electrolux. While a big name isn’t always a guarantee of quality, you can usually be assured of decent ongoing service and readily available parts – at least in most cases.
Flying the Flag
Of course the aforementioned manufacturers are all fine and good in their own right; however, each one is missing one vital element – British heritage. For those that like to fly the flag in their kitchen, only an oven that has been designed and built in the UK will do. So if you’re a patriotic baker and want to enjoy the best of British, look out for products from the likes of Stoves, New World and Belling. It’s great quality from a name that you know you can trust.
So work out what you need, what you can afford and where it can fit in before you part with any cash. A keen amateur baker may have entirely different requirements to a trendy couple looking to bring a little glamour to their kitchen, so no two consumers are the same. As long as you continue to maintain and clean it regularly, then there’s no reason why your new oven shouldn’t last for many years to come.
Of course if you’ve recently purchased an oven or have had your own experiences in the past, be sure to share them below or on our Facebook page. Whether serious, useful, funny or awful, we’d certainly love to hear from you.
With their blend of stainless steel, chrome, glass and enamel surfaces, ovens pose a unique challenge when it comes to cleaning. While caustic soda and a bit of elbow polish may have been enough in the past, you need to be a lot more careful these days.
Watch Out for Harmful Ingredients
Caustic soda was a mainstay in heavy duty cleaning products until relatively recently, but has since fallen out of favour due to the damage it can cause to surfaces and the skin. However, that is not to say that it has disappeared from supermarket shelves entirely. Manufacturers often use the scientific name, sodium hydroxide, as well as a range of other terms such as ascarite, lye and sodium hydrate. While this isn’t done to deliberately deceive consumers, it’s well worth looking out for in future.
An ideal cleaning product will be able to cut through the built-up grease and grime quickly without leaving any traces or damage in its wake. Unfortunately, while some excel in one area, they can easily fail in the other.
Enamel is particularly susceptible to bleaches and other corrosive chemicals. So if you have coated surfaces in or on the outside of your oven, take extra care. When buying products, always check the label to see if there are any warnings relating to where it should and shouldn’t be used. Also, look for the Vitreous Enamel Association badge, which signifies that the product has been independently checked and is safe to use.
Using the Right Brushes and Scourers
Of course it’s not just the chemicals that you need to be careful with. Using wire brushes or scourers can also cause damage to surfaces, chipping away paint and dulling stainless steel or chrome. While it is perfectly acceptable to use these heavy duty products in iron-clad AGA ovens and older models, it can be just as damaging as using caustic soda in many modern appliances.
So in many ways it is about finding the right combination of products. You need a solution that will take care of your oven as well as removing burnt-on detritus. Then, when you do have to scrub a little harder to clear away the grime, you need to use a cloth or brush that won’t tarnish the surface. If you get either wrong, it could result in a poor quality finish or a discoloured avenue with patchy enamel.
Therefore the products aren’t just important, they are critical. Cleaning an oven can be hard work and it takes time to get right; but you can certainly remove a lot of the hassle simply by getting these basics right. This is particularly true if you’re doing it for the first time or have a new oven and haven’t yet had the opportunity to clean it. Taking risks or using products that are cheap, but potentially harmful, could ensure that it is an entirely unpleasant and unsatisfactory experience all round.
At Ovenu, we always look to ‘clean the unseen’ as part of our comprehensive oven valeting service. This allows us to get in behind panels and into the filter to clear out accumulated grease and carbon deposits. If left too long, this can cause a genuine fire risk as well as impairing the functionality of the appliance.
So, should you attempt to do the same?
While it’s important that your oven is cleaned from top to bottom, it’s equally important that you don’t damage essential components. By attempting to eliminate one risk, you can easily create another, so don’t go pulling off the oven door or unscrewing internal panels just yet.
Our technicians are all highly trained and know ovens inside and out – quite literally. Therefore we always know what to remove, how to clean those unseen elements and will ensure that everything is replaced. If, and it is a big if, something should go wrong, we’re also fully insured, so you will never need to worry.
By taking on the valeting work yourself, there is always the chance that something could go wrong. Whether the window gets cracked or the filter is damaged after being removed, getting replacement parts or organising repairs can be costly. Suddenly, a job you’ve taken on to save some time and money is actually proving to be much more expensive.
So it’s important that you take care. Our technicians always remove doors, panels and shelves, cleaning these in special vats contained within the van. This ensures that they aren’t damaged and that they don’t leave unpleasant deposits on your kitchen floor. Depending on the size of your home and whether you have any outdoor space, such as a garage or shed, this may be difficult to achieve. However, it’s important that these bulky items are cleaned and also removed from the immediate area of the oven as they can easily impair your access.
As mentioned, it can get a little messy, particularly if you’re cleaning multiple elements at the same time. So it’s important that you cover your kitchen floor and provide as much protection to all surfaces as possible. Again, this is something that we always take particular care over during all oven valeting jobs, so we would always recommend that others do the same.
It’s important to remember that elements like the fan can be slightly more fragile than bulkier shelves or panels and therefore need to be treated with due care and attention. Many manufacturers will recommend that you don’t remove the fan or any internal panels, simply because of the risk it poses to the oven and it can cause issues, particularly if they are reattached incorrectly.
So it is advisable to only ever clean the unseen if you are sure what you’re doing, have the right tools and have protected the floor and other areas of the kitchen. Blindly removing doors, trays and panels without any real idea of what to do with them or even how to put them back in place can be risky. If you’re ever in any doubt, just call the experts.
Autumn is here, winter is on the way and summer is quickly becoming a distant memory. So if you’re looking to clear your garden and put your BBQ into storage for the cold, dark months ahead, it’s important that you follow a few simple rules.
Ensure that the Barbecue is Clean
If you want to avoid being met with a grill that’s covered in old meat and mould when you wheel out the barbecue in 2013, you’d be well advised to give it a good scrub before it goes into storage. Even if you take care to scrape off most of the grease and grime as you go, by making sure that it is spotless, you know you will be able to use it straight off the bat when summer rolls round again.
Mould spores can potentially be dangerous, particularly on surfaces that are used in cooking and preparation, while leftover food can attract some rather unsavoury characters to your garage or shed. Therefore, taking a little time now to deal with cleaning duties could save a lot more in the future. Remember, your problems won’t just go away because they’re now in storage.
Keep it Covered
There isn’t much point in taking all that time to bring your barbecue and grill back up to a ‘like new’ standard if you are then just going to leave it uncovered in a damp store. If it’s going to be left for up to six months, then make sure you protect it from damp with a water-proof cover.
If it is left out and exposed, you could find a build-up of mildew or even rust when you return. Even if you’re convinced that your shed or garage is water tight, even small amounts of moisture – particularly over prolonged periods can cause real damage. So if you’ve invested a significant amount of money on a barbecue, why not make sure that you take care of it?
The longer you leave your barbecue and outdoor furniture out in the wind and rain, the greater the chances of causing significant damage. As already mentioned, damp weather conditions can cause a whole host of issues, particularly on metal or wooden surfaces. So if you keep putting off your garden clear out, now might be the time to do something about it.
As a couple of weeks blend seamlessly into a few months, suddenly it’s spring again and your barbecue has been out there facing the elements and probably not fairing too well. A rusty grill isn’t much use to anyone, so now really is the time to get everything stored safely in the comparatively warm and dry setting of your shed or garage.
So get it cleaned, covered and stored away as soon as possible. Summer may seem a long way off at the moment, but when it comes back around you’ll be grateful that you made the effort.
Despite its sturdier build and overall solidity, an AGA needs just as much attention and care as a conventional electric or gas oven. While some homeowners use them throughout the year for cooking, the AGA’s ability to heat a home means that it really comes into its own. So if yours has been inactive or only partially used these last six or seven months, now might be the time to get it in tip top condition once again.
Inside, most AGA ovens are constructed out of cast-iron. As such, they’re pretty tough – particularly when compared with many modern materials. However, newer models do tend to have enamel exteriors, which are easier to damage. If these surfaces are getting a little grubby, make sure that you don’t use bleaches or any other potentially harmful cleaning products. Treat it with care, or you could risk ruining the finish.
As with any oven, you should look to carry out regular cleaning and maintenance to avoid any potentially problematic build ups further down the line. The more care an attention you pay over the course of a year, including wiping up any spillages and giving the inside a bit of a scrub every now and then, the less you’ll need to worry about later.
As mentioned, don’t be afraid to really give the inside a good scraping, even using a wire brush if necessary. The AGA will be tough enough to take it, plus it allows you to get most of the accumulated dirt off without having to use potentially harmful chemicals.
If your AGA hasn’t been cleaned for a number of months or maybe even years, then it can be quite a tough job to get it back into shape. Again, you have to be extremely careful with how you actually go about it as there are some cleaners that can do more harm than good. Fortunately, as the individual doors can easily be detached, you should be able to get right into the belly of the oven and scrub away to your heart’s content. The location of the door and the extra care required around glass windows found on many modern electric ovens are immediately eliminated, making your task that little bit easier.
Of course there are new AGAs and then there are models that have been heating the same home and providing meals to families for decades. If you have a contemporary oven, then you would be advised to consult the manufacturer’s manual before charging in and scouring every surface. Once it has been damaged or chipped off, enamel is extremely difficult to repair and replace. For those older cookers, it’s reasonably safe to assume that most already have scrapes and a little discolouration, although this is not an excuse to neglect them further.
If your AGA needs to be cleaned before the cold winter months fully kick in, but you don’t have the time or confidence to do so yourself, look to choose a specialist cleaning service. We help hundreds of customers who find themselves in this very situation every year. A little expert help, even if it is only once a year, really can go a long way.
At the end of last month you may have heard the tragic story of a young child who was badly injured having ingested a quantity of oven cleaner. The manufacturer recalled all products to assess the safety of the cap, but the incident caused widespread concern for parents everywhere. Unfortunately, accidents can always happen, particularly where young inquisitive minds are involved; however, to help you avoid any serious incidents, here are some quick guidelines for cleaning an oven safely, even with kids around.
Keep Cleaning Agents Out of Reach and Out of Sight
While we may all recognise the difference between an appetising drink and a potentially harmful chemical, the distinction isn’t always clear to children. This is why many parenting groups suggest that you keep any such items in either a locked or difficult to reach cupboard. After all, if a child doesn’t know where it is or know that access is impossible, they aren’t likely to be tempted. It’s also important that you don’t leave any such products out while in use.
Be Careful When Cleaning
The oven cleaning process can take hours, during which time the door will often need to be left open with the chemicals potentially exposed. In this situation it is best to keep children and pets out of the room entirely. Supermarket-bought products can be more corrosive and harmful, particularly those that use caustic soda, as such they are more likely to cause damage when coming into contact with skin.
Again, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to the use of any injury caused by oven cleaning agents. You should look to make the appliance and product as inaccessible as possible, before, during and after the process. If you should get any of the chemicals on your skin or that of your children, be sure to wash it off instantly and leave it under a running tap. If irritation or pain continues, then you may need to seek medical advice.
Check the Product Details
If doing oven cleaning yourself, rather than using a professional service, you should look at the label and scour the warnings and ingredients. As mentioned above, caustic soda is a chemical that has been phased out to a certain extent, but still appears in a number of off-the-shelf products. This is particularly harmful and can even damage the oven, so would be advisable to avoid these cleaners where possible. This is why Ovenu only use products that are tested to be effective and safe for enamel surfaces.
The most important piece of advice is to be careful. It’s easy to be blasé about cleaning an oven and treat it like any other job around the house. However, you should always keep in mind that chemicals can be dangerous, causing injuries and, as with the tragic story mentioned at the outset, can even prove fatal if ingested. So don’t take any chances, keep any cleaning agents out of sight when not in use and even ensure that the kitchen is kept out of bounds during the process.
The kids are back at school, the leaves on trees are turning golden once more and days are getting shorter. However, as we pass from one season to the next, this is the perfect opportunity to get your house shipshape and looking pristine for the autumn months ahead. So what should you be looking to do around the home now that the summer holidays are over?
Blitzing the Kitchen
As the hub of the home and the room in which all meals are prepared, and many are eaten, the kitchen can be a trap for grease, grime and mess. Therefore this presents the perfect place to begin your campaign for cleanliness. Clear out your cupboards, wipe down all surfaces and also give your oven a clean.
If you have children, this is the perfect time to do any of the tricky jobs, including oven cleaning. Whether you choose to do it yourself or bring in professionals, it’s usually best to keep any younger kids out of the way, purely because it can be dangerous – even when using the safest chemicals. Accidents can happen, particularly where inquisitive young minds are concerned, so don’t take any chances.
Clearing Away the Remnants of Summer
With the weather getting cooler and the evenings drawing in earlier, the need for your summer clothes and outdoor furniture is diminishing by the day. So, as painful as it may be to let go, now may be the time to put these into storage for another year – or at least start giving it some thought. This will give you a little more space and also hopefully avoid any damage to outdoor equipment, such as barbecues, heaters or furniture.
Getting Your Home Back in Shape
It may not be top of your wish list when it comes to ideal activities, but unfortunately, every now and then, we all have to roll up our sleeves and get on with a comprehensive clean-up operation. Starting from top to bottom, you may need to vacuum all carpets and even steam clean the upholstery if curtains are looking tired or the sofa covers have been slowly collecting stains. However you choose to go about it, just ensure that you’re thorough to allow for a fresh start in a new season. While it may take a day of elbow grease, you can enjoy benefits throughout the rest of the year – even reducing your future cleaning times.
Taking the Easy Option
Of course there is one way that you can get great results without even having to lift a finger: bring in professional cleaners. At Ovenu we regularly help people that simply don’t have the time to scrub their oven clean, while others just want the best possible finish with the least possible fuss. While our service isn’t free, most customers appreciate the benefit of being able to spend their time how they want to and not getting stuck with chores. As such, it’s a worthwhile investment, particularly when their oven looks as good as new.
Whenever you share a house, whether with friends or strangers, there are always going to arguments. These will mainly revolve around unpaid bills, noise and, worst of all, cleaning. With a number of people using the same space, some of whom may not be the tidiest, cleanliness can prove to be a constant battle.
So if you’re a student heading off to university or a young professional sharing with others for the first time, what can you do to avoid those arguments and keep your kitchen spotless?
Well, it might well prove to be a losing battle, particularly if you are all in different routines and have your own habits. This is why it’s so important that you lay down some basic rules and create a rota for everybody to follow. As long as these are fair and balanced, you shouldn’t have any problems – or at least that’s how the theory goes. So what kind of rules might you impose, particularly with regards to the use of the oven?
Wipe up any mess
Whether you’re cooking on the hob or using the oven itself, you want to make sure that any spillages are dealt with as and when they occur. If they are allowed to remain there, untouched by all and sundry, then there’s a good chance that a small mess can become baked on and almost impossible to shift. So any entente cordiale that you draw up should certainly include a reference to cleaning as you go along.
Using the right cleaners
If you want to avoid damaging any enamel surfaces, then it’s important that you don’t end up using cleaning agents that could actually do more harm than good. Certain acids, particularly caustic acid, can be particularly harmful to both the user and the appliance. So always try to find bleaches and products that can be used safely without any potential side-effects.
Scheduling a Complete Oven Clean
Even if you manage to mop up most messes, there will still come a point at which you have to clean the oven completely. If you’re renting a property, the landlord may well stipulate that this is done immediately before you move out as part of your contractual agreement. Therefore you will have to decide amongst you who is going to buy the cleaning agents and who is going to roll up their sleeves and do the deed.
If you can’t reach an agreement, or if you just decide that nobody should have to do this job alone, you may want to consider bringing in professional cleaning contractors. We are often called by students and tenants, particularly when tenancy agreements are coming to an end, asking to get their oven back into shape. After all, it’s not a lot of fun cooking with an oven that is full of smoke, inefficient and emits an unpleasant odour that spreads through the home. Equally, nobody wants to lose any money on their deposit.