There are good aromas that come from your oven whenever you bake terrific dishes, deserts, cakes and pastries. Your family will flock to your kitchen when they smell blueberry muffins for breakfast, a pasta casserole for lunch, and a hearty roast leg of lamb for dinner. If only all ovens smelled this way all the time, then you wouldn’t have a problem. When you overcook a dish, you get a burnt, putrid smell coming out of your oven. What was once the source of heavenly odors from your kitchen has now turned into the smell of the very gates of Hell itself.
Like every appliance in your kitchen, ovens get dirty and smelly over time. Food particles often make their way to racks and trays, and stay there until they get cleaned or burned off. A smelly oven is no place for you to cook food; if your oven smells rancid, just about everything you cook in it will have an unappealing and unappetizing taste. Here are some ways to get rid of oven smells.
How Oven Smells Form
Like your refrigerator, the smells coming from your oven come from the food you cook. While most baked goods smell very pleasant, the odors from different foods eventually mingle, spoil, and form a very unappealing odor. High temperature cooking usually vaporizes and gets rid of those odors, but spills, charred bits of food, and spillovers can stay in your oven and form a layer of dirt and grime.
Sometimes oven smells are caused not by food, but by gas leaks or faulty electrical wiring. Leaking pipelines and wiring problems are very dangerous. Compared to foul food smells, gas leaks and faulty wiring are more dangerous and pose a fire hazard.
Use the Self-Cleaning Function
Many modern ovens have a “self-cleaning” function that helps get rid of grease and food residue. When self-cleaning, the oven uses a very high temperature (approximately 900 degrees Fahrenheit or 482 degrees Celsius) to burn off the excess food particles, spills, and other leftover residue from roasting or baking.
Here are some tips that you can use to maximize the self-cleaning function of your oven:
- Self-clean right after cooking. Many self-cleaning ovens take three hours under high heat to completely vaporize and burn off the residue from the surfaces of the oven. You can save on fuel or electricity costs if you turn on the self-cleaning cycle right after you cook something in the oven.
- Wipe off the spills, first. One problem with self-cleaning cycles is that you may get some smoke, haze, and unpleasant odors coming from the oven. Remember that the extremely high heat will vaporize the spills, but the residue will have to come out of your oven as smoke. You can minimize the smoke by wiping off spills and other food residue before you turn on the self-cleaning function.
- Stay away from the oven. The smoke and other odors that come out from the oven during self-cleaning are potentially toxic, especially to pets and children. Stay away from the oven during the self-cleaning cycle. Do not touch the outside surface of the oven.
- Don’t put anything into the oven. Remove the racks, trays, and cookie sheets from inside the oven when you turn on the self-cleaning function. The high heat may cause the metals to warp out of shape. Do not put Teflon-coated pots and pans on the oven during the self-cleaning cycle, because the Teflon may dissolve, vaporize, and cause very toxic fumes.
Remember that the self-cleaning function is not a substitute for a thorough cleaning. While it’s important to maximize your oven’s self-cleaning cycles, you must also give your oven a thorough cleaning job.
Cleaning an Oven Without a Self-Cleaning Function
Older ovens do not have the high-temperature self-cleaning cycles that most modern ovens have. You can still use high temperatures similar to self-cleaning with older ovens. You only need a dirty oven, a glass bowl, and half a cup of household ammonia. Here are the steps on how to use high-temperature cleaning on an oven without a self-cleaning function:
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and turn it off.
- Pour half a cup of household ammonia into a glass bowl, and place it on the center shelf of the oven. Make sure that you do not inhale the vapors.
- Close the door and leave the ammonia inside the oven overnight.
- The next day, allow the ammonia vapors to escape. Keep people from entering the kitchen. As soon as the vapors are gone, clean up the oven with a damp dish towel.
Catch Grease With Foil
One way that you can prevent grease and food residue from stinking up your oven is to line the bottom pan with aluminum foil. The foil will catch the grease and spillovers from whatever you’re cooking. You need to replace the foil every time you cook a new dish because the grease and droppings will spoil. Not only will you impart a different flavor to the food you’re cooking if you don’t replace the foil, but you’ll also end up with rotten smells in your kitchen.
Try Vinegar or Baking Soda
Vinegar and baking soda are two of the most important deodorizing and cleaning ingredients you can use to remove odors from just about any kitchen appliance, including ovens. Here are some ways that you can deodorize your oven with these handy kitchen ingredients:
- Wipe the walls of your oven with white vinegar. The vinegar will get rid of the spoiled smell from spillovers.
- Make a runny paste out of water and baking soda, and clean oven racks and cookie sheets with the paste. The abrasive quality of the baking soda can help dislodge and remove burnt food residue, or caked-in food particles that have baked into the metal.
- It also helps to keep a small box of baking soda inside your oven whenever you’re not using it. Baking soda can absorb many of the foul odors that form inside your oven. Make sure to remove the baking soda box when you’re ready to cook or bake.
Make Sure the Oven Works Properly
If you suspect that the odors from your oven come from faulty electrical wiring or a leak in the gas pipe, then you need to check the structure of your oven. Inspect the wiring of your oven if it’s electric, and check if there are any exposed or crossed wires. If your oven is powered by gas, inspect the pipelines and hoses to see if there are any leaks or holes or fractures. Replace the rubber hose if it’s cracked or has hardened.
Time for Elbow Grease
There’s no substitute for a thorough cleaning of your oven to remove odors. Be very careful not to scratch the protective ceramic coating of the oven. Use a stiff kitchen sponge or a softened scouring pad to remove spillovers and other baked-on food residue. Use plenty of soap and warm water to get rid of the food particles that have baked into the ceramic or coated metal surfaces of the oven.
Ovens are one of the sources of good smells coming from the kitchen, but when you don’t take the time to clean and maintain your oven, it is also a source of bad smells. With these tips and tricks, the only smells that could ever come out of your oven will be pleasant ones from good home cooking.
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