Homemade Oven Cleaner

We've lived in our current rental home for nearly three years. It has taken nearly that amount of time to clean the oven. I turned on the self-cleaning mechanism once, but immediately felt the toxicity of the fumes. Self-cleaning ovens use high heat (900-1,000 degrees Fahrenheit) to burn off dirt, spills, and residue, turning them to ash. The burning process emits dangerous vapors. According to the California EPA's study of residential cooking activities:

The self-cleaning cycle of the gas stove produced the highest pollutant levels by far -- the maximum level of PM10 was over 3,600 micrograms per cubic meter over several hours.

Because our June momsAWARE Natural Year Challenge will focus on cleaning the kitchen naturally, I knew I had to take the plunge. Here is what our oven looked like after three years of spills:

I followed this recipe offered by Karyn Siegel-Maier in her book The Naturally Clean Home:
  • 1/2 c. sea salt
  • 1/4 c. washing soda
  • 2 c. baking soda
Combine in container. Add enough water to make a paste (approximately 1/4 cup). Remove oven racks and preheat oven to 250 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the door open. Spread the paste on oven walls with a sponge or cloth and allow to set for 30 minutes. Combine 3/4 cup white vinegar and 20 drops essential oil of choice (lemon and thyme work well together). Spray the oven walls and wipe clean. Rinse well.

I followed these instructions, and two hours later my oven looked like this:

No harmful vapors . . . just a clean oven ready for our next meal!