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Gertie's Dirt: Cleaning the stove

As promised, in this week's Gert's Dirt column, we're going to tackle the stove. With the holidays coming, you'll want a clean appliance for preparing festive meals and baking cookies, so put on those rubber gloves and let's get started.

Stovetop and microwave

• Remove the knobs and vent filters and place in hot soapy water.

• Using a microfiber cloth, dish soap and water, wash and rinse the hood. Dry with a soft polish cloth.

• Remove gas stove burner grates or the metal bowls under electric stove heating elements; soak these as well. If you have glass top with stubborn spills, lay a hot soapy cloth on the areas. Allow 15 minutes for the grime to soften.

• While everything soaks, turn your attention to the microwave. Add lemon juice to a cup of water and heat it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Let it sit in the closed microwave for five minutes or more before removing the cup and wiping and drying the appliance's interior with a microfiber cloth. Wipe and dry the outside of the microwave, too.

Back at the stove

• Wash the knobs, grates, and filters, rinse and dry. Remove the warm soapy cloth from the stove top. Use a nylon scraper or a mild abrasive such as baking soda to clean stubborn areas.

• Replace the clean knobs, grates or bowls and filters, polishing everything with a soft microfiber cloth to make them shine.

That messy oven

• Remove oven racks. Wash them with soap and hot water. Use a scouring pad as needed. Rinse and dry.

• Vacuum the crumbs from the oven floor and cover with a paste made from ¾ cup of baking soda and ¼ cup of water. Spread the paste evenly, avoiding bare metal areas and the rubber gasket. Leave the paste in the oven overnight.

• The next day, remove the paste with a moist plastic scraper. Wipe the surface clean with water and a microfiber cloth.

• Add vinegar to a clean bucket of warm water and rinse the surfaces to remove any streaks. Wipe dry with a soft cloth.

• Don't line the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil. It can ruin the finish.

• Wash and dry the front of the oven. Don't forget to clean out the drawer at the bottom if your stove has one.

• It is always a good idea to pull the stove out from the wall to vacuum and wash the walls and floor. Again, if you can't pull it out, put a sock over the end of a stick and use it to sweep the dust from under the oven.

A note about other methods

• The self cleaning mode on some ovens works by heating your oven to a very high temperature and turning the spills to ash that can be wiped out easily. The door will lock and smoke will come out of the vents while this takes place. You should turn on fans and open windows when you use this method. Remove your kids and pets from the room. The oven is hot to the touch. Birds can die from the smoke and toxins it emits.

• Ammonia and oven cleaners also emit toxic fumes. Wear a mask and rubber gloves in a well ventilated room if you decide to use these products.  And once again, keep kids and pets away!

• The more we know about toxic chemicals and our health, the safer we can keep ourselves and our loved ones. That is why I don't allow methods that use these toxic chemicals when Gertie's Cleaning and Home Service cleans your home. It might take a bit more "elbow grease", but your home can sparkle without the use of dangerous chemicals.

Donna Bellino is a nurse and owner of Gertie's Cleaning and Home Service. I care for you, your health and your home. Gertie's: Naturally