Monday, February 6, 2012

Getting Down & Dirty

Yesterday here in Dallas there was a bitter wind that I declared too cold for outside work, and so I tackled an indoor task that has been hanging over my head for quite a long time:  doing a major overhaul cleaning on my stovetop and oven.

Here is the little darling:

It looks benign enough, doesn't it?  Innocently waiting?  It's a Jenn-Air, which is a decent brand.  It's gas, and like most things in my house,* it's less than modern.  It's old enough that it now only has one rack, and I can't find a model number anywhere on it to purchase a second rack.  I've called the Jenn-Air customer number and had them walk me through all sorts of places to look for it, but alas.  But, it's not often that I need two oven racks anyway, so I suppose it's not a huge deal.

One thing I will say for Jenn-Air is that they have the dismantling thing down!  My gosh how I discovered what parts come off for cleaning!  Although I must say, I may be the first person to have figured that out during the lifetime of this stove -- if you know what I mean.

I've mentioned my love of Pinterest in the past, and (too) many weeks ago I had pinned a step-by-step instruction for deep cleaning your stove with baking soda, toothpaste and vinegar.  Here is the link for the instructions:

It took me nearly 4 hours and I'm not totally done but I ran out of time.   And the level of goo I uncovered -- not for the faint of heart.  And the layers of crusty things that had to be... reconsituted... to remove.  Things.... that were not vegan.  I'm just saying -- I could tell.  Things that had I known were lurking so nearby, I may not ever have used my stove.  While I highly advise you to take these steps if you are a homeowner, I cannot in good faith advise anyone living in a rental property to tackle this.  Number one, deep cleaning anything in a place that has been a rental property for any period of time is up there with the. most. disgusting. task. you will ever do.  It's akin to rental cars -- you know how gross those are.  Or hotel rooms...really, you WANT the lights dim.  And two, you probably aren't going to be living there long enough that you care about the uber cleanliness of your stove.  So, renters, my advice would be to live happily in denial or you may go running, screaming, into the woods.

In addition to the cleaning steps set out on Ask Anna's blog, I would add that it's really helpful to lay an old towel on the floor in front of your stove.  I didn't at first, and things were getting pretty messy.  I was armed with baking soda, running water (tried a bowl of water - woefully inadequate) a variety of scrubbies, an assortment of different shaped scrapers, an old toothbrush, some sponges, a micro-fiber rag, and a few paper towels, and about 2 cups of vinegar.  I use baking soda for a lot of things around the house, so I have the 16 pound bag from Sam's Club -- and I used a few cups of it.  The little gold box would not have made it.

I did not have the recommended Arm & Hammer toothpaste on hand because when I looked at it in the store and read the label it said that the active ingredients were baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, and I have both of those things on hand at home.  At one point I did try the baking soda/hydrogen peroxide mixture but it didn't seem to do anything spectacular.  Maybe I was so deep into trouble that I just couldn't identify progress...

I also sealed my oven rack into  a construction grade garbage bag with a cup of ammonia.   (Do not use your regular kitchen liner trash bag.  It will leak.)  Tonight I will take that out and rinse it, and it will look like new.  I know, the ammonia is bad.  But it had to be done.  but take heart, it will do a bit of double duty in my city issued rolling trash can.

Anyway, I didn't pull my stove away from the wall to clean back there, but I have to tell you -- I think that is a project all by itself for another day.  Frankly I'm a little scared and I need to work up the courage.  Murphy's Law dictates that the back of the stove is where the model number is...

I also need to take one more run at a patch of black on the bottom of the oven -- a patch that I greatly reduced in size and depth but didn't get it all -- but otherwise, my stove is shiny and pristine.  You could eat off of that thing!  Oh -- wait...    I was repeatedly amazed what a paste of baking soda and water and a scrubby can cut through.  Without fumes! 

And I've had one of those As Seen On TV Betty Crocker oven liners for literally months, waiting to have a clean oven to lay it down on.  So that's in there.  Yay.

And now, as a friend of mine and I like to say -- "and now, when it's dirty, I'll know that it's MY dirt."  And that makes all the difference in the world.

* my old, little house that I love dearly

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