Day one of the 30 Day Cleaning Challenge is to clean the oven and microwave.
Ugh. As I mentioned yesterday, I'm not sure it's ever been cleaned. My very generous mother-in-law once cleaned and organized our kitchen (it may have been a birthday gift; I can't quite remember) and it's possible she cleaned it then, but I am pretty sure we've never done it.
I knew I didn't want to use strong chemicals if I didn't have to, so I was happy to see these instructions for cleaning it naturally, using baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, vinegar and lemon zest. I had everything on hand except for the lemon zest, and I ended up having to use more baking soda and soap than the original recipe called for, in order to make the solution thick.
I was impressed with how much better the oven looked after I cleaned it with just soap and water, so I was hopeful about the results after using the solution. I put it in and let it go four hours.
While the solution worked its magic, I cleaned the racks with dish soap and steel wool. They're not perfect, but I'm not a perfectionist. If you've spent any time at all around me, I'm sure you've heard me say, "That'll be good enough." But they really are a lot better! I'm sure if I cleaned them even semi-regularly, they'd get a lot closer to perfect.
The directions say to use the oven's self-cleaning feature after you clean out the gunk and cleaning solution, but my oven doesn't have a self-cleaning feature. It's probably too old for that. It was here when we bought the house, we've repaired it once, and it may be here when we move out.
I wiped the solution out after four hours, then wiped again with a sponge, then with a towel. The inside of the over came very clean, but I was less satisfied with the door. The solution didn't make a dent in the gunk covering the window, so I went after it with steel wool. The end result - you can see through the window now! I didn't worry about the stains around the window area. It's good enough. :)
I did put the pizza stone (a pizza stone puzzle, of sorts) back in, but it didn't get very clean so I left it out of the "after" photo. The stove equivalent of holding in your gut.
While the stove was marinating, I set about cleaning the microwave with these instructions, which use vinegar and water in equal proportions. I don't use the microwave very often, mostly for reheating leftovers, and I don't clean it very often, either.
The vinegar/water solution microwaved for approximately five minutes, while I cleaned the outside of the microwave. Our microwave is inside the large cabinet we use as a pantry, so it's not visible - the dirt is hidden most of the time. The dial and on/off button were pretty grubby. I had to break out a toothbrush and dish soap to get them clean even by my "good enough" standards.
The inside was easier because the vinegar and water worked very well. The grime was loose and easy to remove with a sponge.
I feel fairly accomplished today for having cleaned those items. Not counting the four hour wait on the oven, it took a couple hours to get everything done. I won't have to worry about them for a while (not that I was worried), and it will be nice to see clean appliances in the kitchen for a change.
After I finished cleaning the over, I microwaved a piece of leftover pizza and I have to admit, I was impressed with how clean everything was!
Week Eight: Household - Cleaning the Kitchen