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.