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The Oven Cleaner

We start school on Monday, so I’m face down in the carpet still pulling together all of my lesson plans.  Keeping that in mind, I’ve pulled a little something from the archives from July, 2008.


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. Woopsie.

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.”


In the spirit of full disclosure, I must tell you that the oven has not been cleaned in the two years since the last cleaning.  Because really, why tempt fate?

Happy Monday!

4 Responses to The Oven Cleaner

  • I’ve used the self-cleaning feature on my oven twice (in 12.5 years here!) – both times the oven completely broke down during the cleaning cycle, when the oven LOCKS itself. ! Both times it was during a visit from my in-laws over the holidays (holiday meals make quite a mess around here and occasionally prompt me to take drastic measures like cleaning the oven afterward). No buttons would work, nothing would come up on the electronic display, and it WOULD NOT OPEN. So, part of the holiday visit included a visit from Mr. Friendly Oven Repairman.

    The second time this happened, Mr. Friendly Oven Repairman advised me that it would actually be a better idea to just use the spray-on oven cleaner thenceforth. This advice was heartily agreed to.

    My mother-in-law later gifted me with a teflon-coated non-stick oven drip mat, which I must say has worked wonderfully. Sticky sweet potato drips, pizza cheese… anything just wipes right off, and I don’t have to stick my head in the oven to do it – the mat slides right in and out under the lower heating element. Here’s a link to one: http://www.chefscatalog.com/product/24310-Nonstick-Oven-Liner.aspx?sourcecode=AW4GB4017&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=24310-GWP

    Hope your first school day is going well today!

    • Cindy!
      I swear I’ve been looking all over for one of those teflon-coated non-stick oven drip mats! I’ve been using heavy duty foil, and frankly, I fear it’s going to burst into flames any moment! THANK YOU!!

  • So funny that you posted this. We bought the house we currently live in in March. There is a beautiful gas Viking professional range in the kitchen. The house is 10 years old and the previous owners were apparently related to you because they had not cleaned said oven since the house had been built.

    The oven is also NOT self cleaning.

    You win on the heat front though. It was 100+ degrees here in Idaho on Saturday, but no humidity and because the oven is not self cleaning, I didn’t have to heat up the house.

    However, the job took ALL day and required the rental of a pressure washer. We took the whole thing apart and put it out on the driveway and sprayed it with Easy-Off. My husband then went and got the pressure washer and we sprayed away!

    Today the oven gets fixed (it hasn’t worked properly since the beginning of July) and we can once again bake because I’m so tired of hamburgers, pasta, and stuff I can cook in a crock-pot.

    I don’t even like to cook!

    Thanks for the laugh this morning though, it was much needed! =)

  • Your post made me laugh so hard. My “sign” would have read Outback!

    You sound so much like me, but thankfully I’m married to a wonderful guy who is not like me (a/k/a he’s a neatnik) so God bless him I’ve learned a lot from him. Like cleaning ovens doesn’t have to be that hard…and prevention like aluminum trays on the bottom! lol