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A Fiery Inferno

Just to give you a clue as to the scope of my housekeeping skills, it has been 9 years since I’ve cleaned my oven.

In other words.

I’ve never cleaned my oven.

In my defense, when we purchased this particular oven, the big draw, for me, was that it was “self cleaning.”


That’s my kind of oven.

However, I soon learned as the years flew by, that “self cleaning” is really misleading. There are buttons to be pushed, muck to be scraped, and flammables to be removed before the oven actually cleans up after itself.

I was more than a little afraid. I had a vague memory of a girlfriend telling me that her oven caught fire when she used the “self cleaning” function. I suppose an actual fire would do a terrific job of incinerating unwanted pizza drippings.

I also heard a rumor that you have to leave the house for 4 hours while the cleaning occurs, because of toxic fumes.

Well, I did the math on that one. I’d have to have all 3 of my offspring OUT OF THE HOUSE for 4 long hours, while my house burned to the ground in my absence.

So, I did what any respectable procrastinator would do. I did nothing. For nine years. When I was single, I actually used my oven for storage. But, since marriage and subsequent children, I use it daily. Often several times daily.

Nine years. Several times daily. Do that math.

As you might imagine, eventually there would be an oven crisis of such a magnitude, that Fiddledaddy would finally put his giant size 10 foot down and say, “Today, the oven must be cleaned.”

Saturday was that day of reckoning. I was cooking some wheat/gluten/egg/dairy/soy free chicken nuggets (not easy to find, btw) for Jensen. When there arose such a terrible stench, that windows needed to be opened.

This is Florida. In July.

Fearfully, I peered into the oven, to see several pod like growths bubbling up from the bottom. They appeared to be breathing. I turned the oven off, and with long metal spatula in hand, attempted to remove these alien pods. It was as though someone had planted marshmallows on the bottom of the oven.

I shot an icy glare over the bar at my family, but then realized, that these were not marshmallows at all. But rather, sweet potato drippings from a batch that I had been cooking the day before. My bad.

I placed my bugging eyes back in my head, and continued with the icky gooey clean up. During this time, Fiddledaddy had retreated into the deep recesses of the house to hunt for the stove paperwork. He came back, victorious. He read the actual instructions (of which I seldom have need of), I cleared out the flammables, we finished with the scraping, and he turned it on.

Then I said a prayer. “Dear God, Please don’t let us die in a fiery inferno. And I’m not just talking about hell. Amen.”

The instructions did indeed say that the house must be well ventilated. But, the fumes would not be all that toxic. Thinking ahead to the next 4 hours of complaining (mostly mine), Fiddledaddy did what any intelligent father and husband would do. He packed up the children and took them to their grandparents to swim.

Thusly avoiding any unnecessary brain damage to the children. I am beyond hope, so it was determined that I would remain behind, with fire extinguisher in hand.

WOOHOO. The whole house to myself. I had visions of much cleaning and occasional bonbon eating. But then I began to sweat. Because the air conditioner was off and the house was open.

This is Florida. In July.

The house soon reached a balmy 91 degrees. Humid degrees. A humid heat is much worse on the hair than a dry heat. I won’t even go out to the mailbox when it’s 91 degrees. I’m not a fan of the heat.

And yet, I continued with my vacuuming, mopping, and tossing of tiny Polly Pocket accessories. Something I can only get away with when the Polly Pocket Police are not home.

It was a veritable workout.

At long last, my oven was finished cleaning itself. And it was time to cook dinner. Not wanting to heat the house up any more than the already sweltering 116 degrees, I decided to fire up the grill to cook burgers.

Fire may have been an unfortunate choice of word.

Because interestingly, the grill did indeed catch fire. Flames were shooting out from places that fire wasn’t suppose to be. The grill? Not self cleaning. We’ve owned the grill for 9 years. Guess how long it had been since I cleaned it. So the grill joined with the oven and rebelled.

My trusted appliances are turning on me.

I simply look upon all of this as a sign. And it’s a sign that reads “Carrabbas.”

25 Responses to A Fiery Inferno

  • Ahh, a kindred spirit. When we sold our first house after living in it for 6 years I had never cleaned the oven or mopped the kitchen floor for that matter. The buyers insisted that I clean the oven as part of the deal. Picky, picky. Whatever.
    I am proud to say that in the twelve years we have lived in our current home I have cleaned the oven. Once.
    I have a sign for my kitchen that reads, “No one ever died from oven crud poisoning.”

  • I love my self-cleaning oven.

    I have used that feature….once. That was all it took for me to lay down a piece of tin foil in the bottom of the very clean oven.

    Now I just change the foil.

    Problem solved.

  • I, too, am a kindred spirit. I have had my stove/oven for about six years now and have yet to clean it.

  • This was so funny! I especially liked your prayer… “don’t let us die in a fiery inferno. And I’m not just talking about hell.”

    I’ve never cleaned our oven either. (I guess that’s one perk of our military life – we move every 3 years, avoiding all oven-cleaning duty! :))

  • You mean you are SUPPOSED to clean the oven? I thought the self-cleaning thing was a decoration.

  • Best last line of the day. Loved it.

    I have a self-cleaning oven as well, but I can’t tell you how many times I have set it to clean and then never scraped the junk out of the bottom afterwards and instead just reheated it and made a bigger mess.

  • Ours, as far as I can tell, is NOT self-cleaning. Wonder if I can talk the man into just buying a new one.

    Glad the house is still standing!! I know if our grill went up in flames the man would be in heaven, GRILL SHOPPING!!!

  • We’re suppose to clean those things?? 🙂

  • I actually broke the glass window insert in my oven a few months ago trying to use this so-called “self-cleaning” function. As in your case, tons of sweet potato goo/ash had dripped all over the oven, including all over the glass part. I’d never cleaned the oven, but I’ve only lived at this house for 3 years, so that’s to be expected. Whatever I did heated the sweet potato goo to such a degree that it cracked the glass on the inside. The good part is that my husband found a scratch and dent stainless oven at some sale and claimed total replacement was easier than trying to order and replace the glass. This lovely oven has been sitting in my garage for 4 months…it’s right in front of where I pull up my van…I’m constantly afraid I am going to pull up too close, hit this oven and break its glass…so I covered it with an old pink blanket so I can be sure and see it…and there it sits…

  • I’m so glad to know that there are so many others who skip out on “regular” oven cleaning. I think in the 5 years we owned our last home, I cleaned the oven twice (one of those times being right before we moved out). My current home doesn’t have a self cleaning oven, which means we’ll have to use “fume free” (ha!) Oven Off for cleaning. UGH.

  • You’re supposed to clean the oven? I thought “self-cleaning” meant that it magically cleaned itself while you baked.

    Guess I’m going to need to let my wife know.

    Or use the grill… assuming it’s not trying to kill us.


  • I, too, am terrified of the misleading “self-cleaning” feature on my oven. Mine is, fortunately, only 5 years old. Glad to know that I have 4 more years before I must face the “day of reckoning”. 🙂

  • I have a gas oven so no foil on the bottom for me. Then I got smart. The oven comes with two racks. One of which, I never use. So, I wrap it in foil, making sure to leave some room on the sides for heat circulation and such. There it stays until the oven starts smoking. Pull it out, cool it off, and back in it goes. My best friend actually told me to shut up the day we were going to clean our ovens together over the phone.

  • Beware the vacuum. BEWARE!

  • You know, this post is kind of a relief to me. You see I also own an oven that has never been cleaned. However mine is NOT self cleaning and I’ve only owned it for 5 years. So, what I am taking away from this is that I have another 4 years to convince my husband to either move house and abandon the oven or replace the one we currently have with a newer model.

  • Oh, I’m so glad I’m not the only one!

    My mom always cleans when she comes to visit, so a couple of years ago I had the entire house *professionally cleaned* so she could wear herself out by playing with her young grandson instead of cleaning. I get home from work the first day to find my mom and dad cleaning the oven! Which had at least 5 years of yuck on it. And I got to finish the cleaning.

    Who knew oven doors came off for cleaning?

  • OK. I apologize in advance.

    Your post said, “Do the math.” one too many times.

    Back at year 5, you would have only had TWO children to entertain for four hours, neither of whom would be Jensen.

    Much easier.

    Just a thought…

    I’m sorry.

  • First of all…Carrabba’s is my sign of choice, too.
    We have had a running joke for YEARS…The oven is dirty, it’s time to move. Funny story: when we moved this last time, a sweet friend offered to clean our “old” house, as we were 320 miles away. Once said house had been leased (and mostly ruined) and then abandoned, we traveled the 320 miles to clean it up for sale. I had to call my friend and ask her how to clean my own oven…I had never done it!

  • We’re supposed to clean our ovens?

    Ohhh, that would explain a lot.

  • I’ve only cleaned my oven once before in the 8 years we’ve lived here. It’s a bottom of the line model with no such self-cleaning button that you speak of. I was considering the fact that maybe I sorta need to get to cleaning this, but then I started browsing Craigslist for ovens just out of curiosity. You can a decent one for under $100 (with self-cleaning). My math tells me it’s a no-brainer 🙂

  • This was so funny. I hate to clean my self cleaning oven. Mine will clean in 2 hours and we don’t have to leave. But when I do clean it for some strange reason I go look at the electric meter and go into a trance like state watching it spin faster and faster.

  • I’m glad I am not the only one afraid of the “self cleaning” oven. My mom actually ran it for me when she was here last year for the new grand baby. I guess I need to invite her out again in the next 8 years.

  • *snort*

    Just for future reference, if your toddler (unbeknownst to you) happens to “store” all your Rubbermaid containers in your oven, and you happen to turn it on to preheat for some cinnamon rolls you’re about to bake, and the plastic happens to melt completely to the bottom of said preheated oven; when self-cleaning, those fumes probably ARE toxic.

    Just FYI.

  • I work in an appliance store and actually had a customer who destroyed her new oven while using the self-cleaning option for the first time. ever. She didn’t read the instructions really well and happened to walk by when it was in the middle of heating up to a gazillion degrees, saw flames coming up from the bottom (that’s what it does, you know) and proceded to rip that sucker’s door off with a crowbar to get it open and douse it with a fire extinguisher. Instead of allowing it to cycle itself off. And wanted us to get it covered under her warranty!

  • I think the grill is man’s domain. So if that isn’t clean you are not to blame. Does that make you feel better? Passing the buck always works for me.