Great tips for a post-holiday oven cleaning

Posted1/1/2016 1:01 AM

Most of our ovens get a heavy workout during the holidays. And we probably all have "clean the oven" on our to-do lists about now.

It doesn't have to take a whole day or a lot of effort if you are smart. Here are the best tips we have for a post-holiday, quick-and-thorough oven cleaning.


If your oven is a continuous-cleaning model, follow your owner's manual for special directions. If it is self-cleaning, push the "Clean" button. If you are like the majority of oven owners, follow these cleaning tips.

• Remove the oven racks so you can have easier access to the oven. You can work on the racks in the sink or on your back patio. A steel-wool pad works great on these, along with some old-fashioned elbow grease.

• A warm oven can be easier to start with, so plan to clean after baking some cookies. You don't want to burn yourself, but don't wait until it's totally cooled down.

• Then, put a pan of water on the stove and heat it up to boiling. Once boiling, pour in a cup of ammonia and set the pot into the oven and close the door. Allow it to stay like this overnight. The moisture will condense on the inner surfaces of the oven and start working on the grease while you are sleeping.

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• In the morning, take the pot of water out and add about one-quarter cup of dishwashing liquid. Then, use a plastic scrubber and your new cleaner to scrub off the loosened grease.

• If you have any stubborn spots, use some of your cleaner and some baking soda as an abrasive along with your scrubber to try to remove this stuff. You also can use a razor scraper to remove the tough baked-on messes. Just be careful not to scratch the surface.

• As for the glass windows, a glass scraper works great for most messes on these. If there is trapped grease and you can see screws along the inside of the oven door's glass window, you can try taking it apart and cleaning the panels individually, putting it all back together afterward.

Keep in mind how much fun this was the next time you get ready to bake an overfilled apple pie crust or a casserole filled to the top with gooey goodness. Perhaps an oven liner could be used, or you could place a baking sheet under your dish to catch the drips.


Get a grip

Years ago, I added an old screen-door handle to the side of my ladder to make carrying it easier. Well, I found myself gripping it while painting a wall. I thought it was pretty handy. I bought a couple more and added one to the top step to hold on to, and added another one to the other side of the ladder, a little higher up than the first. These are so easy to grab hold of to steady yourself while working. And they're quite a bargain, at only $1 each!

Carpet roll cores

My next-door neighbor just got new carpeting in her bedroom. It looks great, and I encouraged her to save some large scraps to use for repairs and rugs later on. I asked her if I could have the cardboard core that the carpet came on. I brought it home and used a hacksaw to cut it into 24-inch sections. I set all of them into my lumber bin and will store trim pieces in them. This way, they won't get lost or damaged by the larger scraps of wood I also have stored in the bins. If you have an opportunity to save one of these cores, do it. They offer all sorts of storage solutions.

Super hints

• If you want a bulletin board, see if you have a scrap of foam insulation panel. Just paint it or cover it with fabric, and voila! -- a supercool bulletin board that you can load up with notes, receipts, cards and all the other stuff you need to keep up with these days.

• I know I need to wear gloves while working on certain projects -- and I'm the first one to tell YOU to do it -- but I really don't like it and avoid it if at all possible. However, I coat my hands with petroleum jelly when working with messy projects, like painting. The protective coating keeps paint and other stuff from sticking to my hands, and makes cleanup a lot faster and easier.

• A standard roll of electrical tape lasts forever, at least for the average DIY-er. But over time, the tape will start to age and be less pliable. Renew it by putting it into the microwave for about 15 seconds to soften it back up. This makes it last even longer.

Q. Our old desk was nice but needed to be refinished. I took it to a place to have it stripped because I knew it would be a chore. It looked clean when I got it home, but it stinks! How can I get rid of the chemical smell?

A. Once the new finish has been applied, the smell will be sealed in. Just make sure to finish the inside of the drawers, cabinets and all other surfaces, even though they won't show. Any clear sealer will work.

Q. Help! We spilled a large puddle of melted wax on our patio during the summer as we dropped, and broke, a large citronella candle on the floor. I thought it would wear off, but this dark stain persists. The candle was a large, insect-repellent one and pretty clear, but the stain is dark on the surface. Is there anything that will remove it, or have we waited too long, or not long enough?

A. Pour a little mineral spirits paint thinner on the oil stain first, and see if you can loosen it with a scrub brush. Once it's dissolved, cover it with cornmeal, clay cat litter or some other absorbent material. Let it soak up the oil, and then vacuum or sweep it away. Repeat if you need to.

Q. My vacuum cleaner just doesn't have much suction anymore. I've cleaned out the bag, but I didn't find much. What else can I do?

A. There are lots of other places that can become clogged on the average vacuum cleaner. Start at the front end where the dirt comes into it. Follow the path of the dirt, clearing each area as you go. You'll find the clog. Sometimes using a wire will loosen it if it's out of your reach.

Reader tips

• I priced out some moving pads for furniture, but decided to just make my own. I cut some small round circles to place under each leg of the tables, sofas and cabinets. They slide much easier and don't leave any scratches on our wood floors. I even can move the stuff by myself!

• I have a lazy Susan in my pantry for spices. It works well and keeps things neat and organized. I thought, why not add them in other places around the house? So I added one in my refrigerator for condiments, one in my office, and one in my craft room for all my supplies. These things are perfect, and if you shop around first, you will find them for a pretty good price.

• I made a couple of birdhouses for my brothers for Christmas. In our family, we make things for each other instead of buying things every year. This year, I got a little creative with my designs and needed to sand down some curved areas. I had to do this by hand to get the results I was looking for. I wrapped the sandpaper around a piece of PVC pipe to act as a backer. This got me the smooth results I was trying to achieve on these curved areas. I can't wait for my brothers to see my masterpieces. I think they will really like them.

• We have this bathroom door that closes by itself and is always a little squeaky. We have to spray the hinges with WD-40 all the time. But this last time I was out of it, so I grabbed some petroleum jelly that was right there in the bathroom and wiped some of it on the hinges instead. It works great, hasn't left residue behind like the WD-40 did and doesn't smell as bad, either. I'm switching for good!

• This year, before the first freeze, I started moving all of my patio plants inside the sunroom. It was a chore, but for the larger ones, I set them on my son's old skateboard and rolled them into the room. It was much easier. I had to steady the two really big plants a bit, but the rest were a breeze. I thought it was a brilliant idea!


• If you have noticed that the pressure in your water supply has diminished over time, especially the hot-water supply, it may be something as simple as mineral deposits clogging up the lines. It's not a very hard thing to fix once you know a little trick you can play with a dime. The instructions also are available on our website, It's a very simple thing to do and it may just solve your problems -- at least, your water-pressure problems.

• Electrical tape will work for a wide variety of electrical connections, but if you are looking for a more versatile, flexible and watertight connection, liquid electrical tape is your best bet. It's easy to paint on, stays flexible and watertight for a long time, and is perfect for heavy-duty use on boats, garden tools, snowmobiles, motorcycles, cars, trucks and ATVs. Two coats will give you excellent protection in most conditions. Check it out at your home center or hardware store, and keep some on hand. The one I've used several times over the years is made by PlastiDip ( You never know when you might need it.

• Dremel has done it again! The VRTI-1/5 Rotary Tool has no motor, but is powered solely by the suction of a standard shop or canister vacuum. Brilliant! It also sucks up the dust created by your grinding, sanding or cutting at the same time. It's super lightweight, too, so you can work longer, making less mess, resulting in less clean up time, too. Check it out at Lowe's or online. Find out more by visiting

• Write to Kelly Carrell in care of the Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006 or visit online at

© 2015, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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