Evacuate the house, I'm cleaning the oven!
I am not a fan of highly toxic cleaning agents unless, of course, you are in a highly toxic, dirty, place. I normally use micro-fibre, muscle power, bicarb and vinegar. This seems to work well, until you have to do the oven. I generally use a paste of bicarb soda and water (or vinegar) to clean off the grime or a micro-fibre oven cleaning glove thingy to tackle this, but for serious baked-on blackness, some folk like to spray something on — something that foams and fizzles and requires the house to be evacuated.
These caustic oven-cleaning products on the market just make me feel dirtier than my oven. The toxic mix works well but surely there must be a middle ground.
I tried this new product that has a foot in the green-cleaning camp: Simply Green Oven Cleaner. It sprays, foams and fizzles just like the toxic one, but doesn't take your breath away and leave you gasping for air. I did get a tiny head-spin which could have been because my head was down around my knees inside an oven and I hadn't had a morning coffee.
Here are my results cleaning my conventional oven:
I like to do a control, it is the scientist in me. My oven wasn't really dirty but it did have some burnt stuff baked on.
I scrubbed the oven glass with a green scourer pad, the grime came off but with some scrubbing.
I scrubbed another section with a micro-fibre oven glove and the grime came off with a bit more vigorous scrubbing.
After the spray was left on for the recommended 10 minutes it came off but still required a bit of scrubbing.
I reapplied the foam for another 10 minutes, a bit more scrubbing, and the oven was clean.
There were still some baked-on spots on the racks that, had I been more dedicated, could have scrubbed off, but I like to leave a little history!
The verdict on the greener oven cleaner: it was good for a medium clean. Now that it is sparkling, I would just do regular maintenance: wiping up spills as they happen and lining the bottom with foil and doing a semi-regular clean with bicarb paste or the micro-fibre cloth. I'd only use this product to give it a good once-over, once or twice a year.
The thing I liked best about it was knowing that it was non-corrosive, non-toxic and not caustic. Sure, a micro-fibre cloth, bicarb and some good hot soapy water are the greenest and might do a good job, but if you like to spray something on, this is a great middle ground.
If you want to give the bi-carb paste thing a go here's how to do it.