Friday, 1 Oct 1999

Rhinebeck, N.Y.

Mmmm. Yum. Roast turkey à la oven cleaner. I remember that taste from more than 20 years ago, back when I cleaned with toxic chemicals. It seemed almost impossible to rinse that stuff out enough so that it didn’t impregnate whatever I was cooking. And the headaches! Whew. Commercial oven cleaner can pack a mean wallop.

Thanksgiving in my house is a big deal because all of my sisters and step-brothers, their families, and my mother come. Twenty-one people! Given that I shared with you earlier this week the fact that I hate to clean, I can add that to be ready for the clan’s arrival, I really have to start cleaning early for Thanksgiving. Weeks and weeks early. It is my one chance a year to get the house really clean. And it is my big chance to get the oven clean, too.

Most people can hardly believe that all I use for cleaning the oven is baking soda and water, and that the project requires no scrubbing. I suppose we have all been so brainwashed by the household products companies that we mistakenly believe we require powerful chemicals for cleaning. But most people don’t know that simple household minerals such as baking soda can clean like magic. The key is using enough of the mineral.

To clean my oven, I sprinkle baking soda all over the bottom of it until the bottom is covered completely with about 1/4 of an inch of baking soda. Then I either use a s
pray bottle or a cup and my fingers to sprinkle the baking soda with water, until it is thoroughly damp but not flooded. After that, this lazy cleaner goes off and does other things. When I think of it, I dampen the baking soda again if it is drying out. Before I go to bed, I do it yet again. When I wake up in the morning, the baking soda can effortlessly be scooped out of the oven with a sponge, bringing all the grime with it. That’s it! The only downside is that the baking soda requires quite a bit of rinsing, but it sure beats turkey à la oven cleaner and a headache.