Oven cleaning = evil
February 2, 2011 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Help me clean my gas oven.

I will start by acknowledging that this is probably a stupid question, but I grew up with electric appliances. I now have a gas oven, and I have no idea if there's something different I need to consider before I clean this beast. (And it really, really needs it. It's way past due.)

I've read the instructions on the backs of some oven cleaners, and I think I'm hung up on the fact that there's apparently a pilot light I'm supposed to avoid? How do I make sure I do that? Do I need to worry about anything penetrating through the holes in the oven bottom? I'm concerned about those openings and cleaner/foam leaking through to whatever is below.

I have a bit of gas fear. Please ease my mind and help me get this thing clean after avoiding it for way too long. Easy is best - I'm good at keeping things neat, but not so good at keeping things clean. The less painful it is, the greater chance I have of succeeding.
posted by Salieri to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your oven probably has electric ignition rather than a pilot light - when you turn it on does it make a click, click, click sound before lighting? If so, no pilot light to worry about. Does it have a self cleaning setting? If so you'd be best off to get a manual and follow instructions to clean it. Otherwise just follow the instructions on a container of oven cleaner and make sure to have the room well ventilated and wear gloves.
posted by leslies at 7:22 PM on February 2, 2011

A lot of newer gas ovens don't have a pilot light, just an electric starter. Even if yours does have a pilot, you won't need to worry about putting it out - you'd have to flood the whole inside. Just spray your cleaner, wait, and wipe it up.
posted by echo target at 7:23 PM on February 2, 2011

When I clean my oven, I'm more concerned about the oven cleaner than the gas. Here's an easy alternative: use baking soda. First, wipe down the all the surfaces on the inside of the oven with water, leaving it as wet as you can. Sprinkle on some baking soda, generously. Make a thin paste of baking soda and water and smear it on any spots you missed. Then let it sit like that overnight. The baking soda will meld with the oven crud--just wipe and rinse. Best to wear gloves for all this, as the baking soda can dry your skin out. I was surprised to find that this is every bit as effective as the nasty sprays. Cheap, easy, doesn't stink.
posted by Corvid at 7:47 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Does it have a self cleaning setting?

No self-cleaning. I forgot to mention that.

when you turn it on does it make a click, click, click sound before lighting? If so, no pilot light to worry about.

Hmmm. The burners definitely have electric ignition, but I don't know about the oven itself. I don't think I hear the same click - when I turn the oven on, I can start to see it glow through the openings at the bottom, and then I hear the gas come on with a whoosh.

And hey, I unearthed the manual! Except that it's no help because it's one of those annoying ones that has instructions for all models (both electric ignition and pilot light).
posted by Salieri at 7:49 PM on February 2, 2011

At night time, go into your kitchen, turn off the light and open the oven door. Hold the door trigger light sensor in (so the oven light goes out). If you see a flickering orange-ish light coming from the bottom panel of the oven, you have a pilot light. Alternatively, you could, wait for your oven to cool thoroughly, then try to put your hand on the bottom plate of the oven (quickly and lightly), if it is hot to the touch, you probably have a pilot light. Lastly, you could pry up the bottom plate and physically see if you have a pilot light.

Why the obsession with the pilot light? Basically, the light stays permanently lit by slowly releasing a gas stream. The gas stream is just enough to maintain a very small flame. If the flame goes out, the gas is unrestricted, and could pose a fire/explosion risk if left unlit for long enough. Think of it like a gas grill. With modern residential stoves, many pilot lights have been replaced with a starter and a regulator that turns on at a lighting setting. Commercial stoves though, are a bit tougher, and if that's the case - RTFM or talk to your sales rep because each one has a slightly different procedure and placement for a reset button that has to be pressed.

As for stove the cleaning - wear clothes you won't mind throwing away preferably a long sleeve t-shirt, weekend jeans, a surgical mask, eye protection, and disposable gloves - not that you will need to throw everything away, but if it is really dirty and you will likely get some on you and oven degreaser is nasty nasty stuff. Apply liberally, wait for a long time, and wipe with an old towel, repeat, then scrub with an old sponge, then wipe with an old towel.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:23 PM on February 2, 2011

Salieri writes "when I turn the oven on, I can start to see it glow through the openings at the bottom, and then I hear the gas come on with a whoosh."

If the glow doesn't start until you turn it on then that's another version of electric ignition. You don't want to get oven cleaner on the glowing part either but that is going to be tough anyway.

Most gas stoves the bottom of the oven lifts up or comes out. If you do that not only will that peice be easier to clean you'll also be able to see the bits you shouldn't get oven cleaner on.
posted by Mitheral at 7:12 AM on February 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you very much, everyone! (And Nanukthedog, you've basically explained why I have gas issues.) I think I'm pretty safe in assuming this thing has electric ignition, so now I just have to buckle down and do the actual cleaning.
posted by Salieri at 8:26 AM on February 4, 2011

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