Oven Tray of Shame

Grime Fighting with Baking Soda

So for all of my reader (yes, I know there’s just one – thanks Mum), you will have realised that I have a deep and abiding commitment to fighting Grime. In all of its glorious forms. And I’m a big fan of Baking Soda. It’s simple. It’s effective. It’s easy to use, and it’s cheap. Win.

Being a true blue Superhero (cleaner), I take a certain pride in maintaining a secret lair that is Grime-free.

Well, not entirely Grime-free it turns out… Look what has been hiding in my oven. I’d like to introduce you to my Oven Tray of Shame. I think it is supposed to be non-stick. And like almost every non-stick product in the world, some baked on crap clearly sticks. I was going to suggest that NASA go back and revisit that non-stick spaceship technology that they came up with, but upon investigation, have found that the technology was stumbled upon by Roy Plunkett of Dupont fame in 1938. Pity, the spaceship technology connection fits in much better with the whole Superhero thing…
Baking soda challengeSo, back to the story.

This oven tray has been doing my head in for months and months. I have tried scrubbing. A lot. My hands have suffered. But most importantly, my pride has suffered.

I have been doing a fair bit of experimentation with general household solutions that Super Gran used to use. Super Gran of course is the inspiration for all things heroic in this Superhero’s life. Super Gran could also best be described as a product of her generation. Accordingly, she raised six children on a budget of… well… not much. She had an amazingly effective and cheap or free solution for just about any household problem. I don’t ever remember seeing anything in her kitchen that could be described as non-stick, but I can happily report that everything was sparkly clean and organised.

Mainstay cleaning products for Super Gran = white vinegar, caustic soda, baking soda and soap.

She never shared her specific cleaning recipes, because I don’t think she even thought that there was anything interesting about what she was doing. However, I did trail around after her “helping” as a child and teenager (pre-Superhero) and I can remember quite a lot.

At the moment I am experimenting with the general principles that I saw her use, searching the internet for information, and potentially sacrificing my Oven Tray of Shame, in search of a truly eco-friendly, budget-friendly, muscle-friendly solution. I want to effect an inhuman transformation, with not much effort, and spending no money (ie, I want to use what I already have in my lair).

Plan A: So I start out with a general basic cleaning recipe – water, vinegar and baking soda. I sprinkle the Oven Tray of Shame liberally with baking soda, tip some white vinegar over it (mostly because the chemical reaction is so damn cool!), and then fill to the top with warm water. And I wait for about 30 minutes. I haven’t got all day after all! When I go back to the Oven Tray of Shame, I don’t see much difference actually. I’m a little disappointed. Super Gran had sparkly kitchen equipment – surely some of her pragmatic genes have rubbed off on me?! I give the tray a bit of a scrape with the back of a teaspoon. Nothing. So then I have a good ol’ “put a bit of elbow-grease into it” scrape with the back of the teaspoon. Wait! I see a light line, which surely indicates that oven-baked crap has come off? I am encouraged, and keep scraping for a couple of minutes, before remembering that actually the whole point of this exercise is to work out an EASY way to do this…

Back to the drawing board.

Plan B: I then try the oldest trick in the book. I fill the Oven Tray of Shame with warm water, spray a bit of dishwashing detergent in, and go to bed, hopeful that in the morning, there will be sparkles blinding me when I come into the kitchen.

I had a good sleep, thanks for asking :).

In the morning, however, same same. EXCEPT, that further vigorous spoon-scraping activity produces more results. Obviously some level of crap has been softened by the soaking. Still, the way to clean the Oven Tray of Shame is surely not to pop a shoulder scraping it with the back of a teaspoon!

Plan C: Back to old-fashioned methods. Again, mostly because I like the homemade volcano-like chemical reaction… I sprinkle the Oven Tray of Shame liberally with Baking Soda. I then cackle maniacally as I pour a quite small amount of white vinegar over it, and watch it fizz and puff up. Honestly, I’d clean just about anything with baking soda and vinegar – if it didn’t wreck stuff when used incorrectly that is.

When the fizzing and popping settles down, and is no longer interesting to watch, I wander off to do other more interesting things. Every few hours I half-heartedly do the old teaspoon scrape test. No difference. I leave it overnight again, and when I arise, rush to the kitchen, excited to discover the results. Hmmmm, there’s a hard white film of baking soda covering the Oven Tray of Shame, that I have to rinse off. And… No change.


One more try. Plan D: I repeat Plan C. Yes, I know it didn’t work. But that volcano thing is SO COOL!

4 hours later, some vigorous teaspoon scraping, and THIS is what my Oven Tray of Shame now looks like.


I’m off to the supermarket to buy some oven-cleaner, and I’m gonna nuke that little bugger. Eco FAIL. Please hold caller. Further experimentation results pending…

Do you have a tried and true baked-on-oven-crap solution that you can share? Feel free to leave a comment Mum!

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4 Responses to Oven Tray of Shame

  1. Gareth says:

    Teenage pre-Heroes are called Sidekicks, I believe 😛

    And I think when you find a solution to this, they will create a new category for the Nobel Prize in Household Miracles. Feel free to experiment upon our oven too, since you can hardly make it worse!

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    • admin says:

      Despite evidence to the contrary, I believe that I’m not supposed to seek acclamation (although if I was offered a Nobel, it would be churlish to refuse…). And all ovens within my domain are treated to my secret experimental eco oven-cleaning solution. Which I will probably blog about soon. Obviously secrecy is NOT one of my super powers! PS, thanks for commenting – now I can refer to “readers”!

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  2. Tracey says:

    Put the tray and your oven racks in a tough garbage bag and pour some cloudy amonia in the bag. Seal the bag so the vile fumes don’t escape. Leave outside overnight. Using gloves, open the bag and wash well in soapy water. It will be perfect! I recently got great results from lining my bath in old towels, putting racks in, liberal sprinkling of dishwashing powder and cover with boiling water – leave overnight and voila!!! Tx

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    • admin says:

      Cloudy amonia huh? Probably more of an “eco” solution than commercial oven cleaner, and it sounds as if it will tick the “easy” box. Thanks Tracey – I’ll give that one a go.

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