It is not unusual to have butter spills in an oven when cooking or baking. Sometimes, butter overflows in a pan, and other times, it spills when a pot or pan is being transferred in and out of the oven. It turns into more of a problem when the oven is very hot because the dropped butter also starts to heat up and may then burn or smoke. Removing the butter when the oven is hot can be dangerous, so you may have to wait until things have cooled down before you can use an oven cleaner.
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How Does an Oven Cleaner Work?
If you do not have a self-cleaning oven, you will need to use a store-bought oven cleaner to remove tough stains, like the ones left by butter spills. Once the food gets burnt onto the inside of an oven, it becomes charred and quite difficult to remove. These cleaners are the fastest and easiest way to remove grime and grease from an oven.
Spray-on, foaming oven cleaners contain organic solvents and aerosol propellants, like liquid butane. Monoethanolamine (MEA) is another organic compound in oven cleaners, and it works to neutralize fatty acids and turn them into solvents that break down grease. Diethylene glycol monobutyl ether works with MEA to break down baked-on messes, and diethanolamine makes the compounds foam. Oven cleaners may also contain sodium hydroxide, which breaks down fatty triglyceride molecules.
How to Use Oven Cleaner
Ovens need to be cleaned when the doors are splattered and if there is residue and crust on the sides and bottom. You may also notice an unpleasant odor or excess smoke when you are cooking. Even if you do not detect any of these issues, it is good to clean an oven at least once a month to improve the quality of the food cooked inside.
Oven cleaner works well but contains caustic ingredients, so you must take proper precautions when using it. You should wear protective safety glasses and rubber cleaning gloves and line the floor with paper towels or newspaper to protect it from drips. Then, remove everything from the inside of the oven and spray the interior completely except for the heating elements if it is an electric oven (you can lift those up and spray beneath them). If it is a gas oven, do not spray the area from where the gas is emitted.
Oven cleaner sprays generally need about 20 to 30 minutes to work. Close the oven, set a timer and clean the racks outside. When the timer goes off, use a damp cloth to wipe down everything. A microfiber sponge or a wet scouring pumice can be used on tough spots that did not come completely clean. If you only needed to remove a burnt-on butter spill or other residue, follow the same directions but for only one spot.
Homemade Oven Cleaners
There is an alternative to oven cleaners, which is helpful for people who are sensitive to the ingredients in commercial products. However, this method takes longer and may not be as effective.
You can combine the juice of two lemons and water into a spray bottle and spray it inside the oven. Let it work for two hours before wiping it off. This should give you a nice result as long as the oven was not too dirty.
For heavier grease and grime, prepare the night before by mixing baking soda, vinegar and water into a container until it forms a workable paste. Wearing gloves, dip a clean sponge or rag into the mixture and spread it all over the oven's interior. This needs to sit for 10 to 12 hours, so apply it before bed and clean it off the next morning.
- Cooking Light: How to Clean Your Oven, According to an Expert
- Good Housekeeping: 7 Best Oven Cleaners of 2021 to Tackle Stubborn Residue
- Bob Vila: The Best Oven Cleaners for Baked-On Messes
- Consumer Product Information Database: Monoethanolamine (MEA)
- Beyond Toxics: Oven Cleaners
- University of Hawaii at Manoa Cooperative Extension; Alternatives to Hazardous Household Products; December 2000