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Green Barbarians–Ellen Sandbeck

A Buddha A Day–Ellen Sandbeck


Dear Ellen,

My husband and I are cleaning up our house prior to putting it on the market. We are not the most conscientious of housekeepers, and we haven't really completely cleaned our oven in about 10 years. It is pretty dirty. Do you have any suggestions on how to clean our oven without using harsh chemicals?

Jan, Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin

Dear Jan,

Since you haven't cleaned your oven with abrasives or harsh oven cleaners, its original enameled finish is probably still smooth under all the built-up and baked on grease. A smooth surface is much easier to clean than is a roughened surface. I think that the easiest way of cleaning the grease out of an oven is to use a steam cleaner. Small, fairly inexpensive steamers for domestic use are available at many department stores. If your job is too big for one of these small steamers, you might want to rent a larger, commercial unit. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a steam cleaner; these appliances get extremely hot.

The beauty of steam cleaning is that it utilizes plain water, requires no other cleaning products, and is more than capable of eradicating grease (mechanics use steam to clean engines, and commercial kitchens are often cleaned with steam and pressure washers).

Environmentally yours,



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