I love my 1959 vintage GE Pushbutton oven dearly, but I do not love that it lacks the modern ”self-cleaning” feature. Which means that, haha, I must clean it myself every six months whether it needs it or not. And this week, it needed it bad, because there was so much built-up crud that Queenie (I just now named her) started setting off the smoke alarm when we tried to cook. DH was at the grocery store the next day and while there, picked up one spray can of Fume Free Easy-Off and, in case that didn’t work, a can of the caffeinated variety. Yesterday, I tried the Fume Free. Here is my glamorama-pama report.
For this front-lines journalistic endeavor, I really did read the directions. I used the 2-hour cold stove method listed on the can. That’s aluminum wrap around the heating element. Ummm, this summer, I started an oven cleaning project — wrapped the element like this… then got distracted and never started cleaning… promptly forgot all about it… next day turned on the oven… and, arc-ing! hissing! flames! ack!… luckily, I was in the room, so I didn’t burn down the priceless kitchen with its vintage 1963 original aquamarine finish Geneva steel kitchen cabinets demo’d from a cooking school once run by nuns which got me started on this blog in case you hadn’t heard and if not what planet are you living on anyway? So, the element was broken and we couldn’t cook … had to call the electrician dude… and it took like 6 weeks to get the part … and then he finally came and replaced it and also did some rewiring that he said would make the stove safer. Moral of this story: It’s always something. I mean, finish the projects you start. Oh #3, have professionals inspect your old stuff before you install it, you know my spiel.
So, back to Mr. Fume Free, I evacuated the parakeet to the basement as a precautionary measure, then did the spraying, closed the oven door, waited two hours, and came back with a bucket of hot water and rags and wiped the whole thing clean. Results and feedback:
- That is an “after” photo, above. As you can see, the truly grody greasy baked-on remnants of my bad cooking and non-existent clean-up afterward are still left.
- MOREOVER: I did not find this product to be Fume Free. Even though I closed off the kitchen, I immediately got an all-day, splitting headache. Certain smells give me a headache, this is about my only manifestation of Delicate Princess-dom — and the fumes from this product hit me over the head like a frying pan. The family, who is home on school vacation this week, also complained, and kitchen windows were promptly opened. Thankfully, it was only 30 degrees out yesterday, not 10.
Above: This is also an “after” – sides and top were pretty good. Now, I do want to qualify, I bet the hard-working folks at Easy-Off would say I let the oven go too long before cleaning, especially that bottom. Guilty as charged. So I am not casting stones, so to speak.
To make matters worse, I discovered, when I closed the pocket door — which we never close – that I had not repainted it when I repainted the trim. Like, 9 years ago. What did I just say about “finishing your projects”? Arcghk. Bad feng shui, very bad, not to finish projects.
Anyway, so I tried again. Second coat of Fume Free. Spray spray spray. Close oven door. Wait. Rinse. The result of Fume Free Wave 2:
Basically, no change. Very little, additional gunk came off. The baked-on-like-fossil-fuels stuff was still there, not budging a bit.
It’s supposed to warm up to the 40s or even warmer within the next few days. When it does, I’m closing the pocket doors, relocating the budgie, opening up the windows, and pulling out the big boy: Heavy Duty Easy-Off — which I know from previous experience will work, albeit reek. Meanwhile, the tin-foil is still on the element so it’s stovetop cooking or take-out for this family, until then. Will I learn my lesson and use Fume Free more often, to avoid a Big Clean Up later? That’s a good one!
Readers, I welcome your suggestions for less-noxious ways to keep these lovely antiques clean. How did those 50s housewives do it???