Razor blade could help you remove crud from oven’s glass door

Jeanne Huber

THE WASHINGTON POST – Q: There is a grungy coating on the inside of my oven door – brown, streaky, raised lines on the glass facing the oven. It’s a glass-top Whirlpool range (model WFE710H0AS) installed in 2013. I’ve tried to be careful with the cleaning products I’ve used, and nothing has worked. The cleaning instructions in the user manual don’t say anything about the inside of the oven door. How do I remove this crud?

A: Your model is discontinued, as might be expected, given its age. But some appliance-sales websites still list it as a way of directing potential shoppers to current models that are similar. And the manual for your range is available online.

These indicate that your range has a self-cleaning feature that Whirlpool calls AquaLift technology – a capability to use steam to help dislodge stubborn spatters. The recommended steps: Pour two cups of water onto the bottom of the oven, close the door and start the 40-minute clean cycle. When the machine beeps at the end of the cleaning and cool-down cycle, immediately open the door and wipe down loosened soils with a sponge or dry cloth.

Whirlpool’s website says the process works because a coating on the oven activates with water and heat, allowing cleaning at a lower temperature than typical self-cleaning cycles, which can go up to 800 degrees. But kitchen brand manager for Whirlpool Katie Sadler said the process is intended to clean the oven cavity, where the finish has the coating, not the glass, which is not coated. And people should clean as soon as possible after spills or spatters develop, she said.

Online, you can find reviews from grumpy customers who say the procedure doesn’t clean ovens that are really spattered. There is even mention of a class-action lawsuit.

The manual for your model warns against using commercial oven cleaners or metal scouring pads for fear of damaging the porcelain surfaces on the oven interior.

What’s left? Sadler recommends mixing a paste of baking soda and water, then smearing it on in a thick layer and leaving it for 20 minutes to work on softening the deposits. Scrape off the softened crud with a plastic scraper, and wipe it down with white vinegar to neutralize any remaining baking soda. You may need to repeat this process several times. Whirlpool’s Affresh Cooktop Cleaning Kit includes a scraper, or you can use a scraper sold for cleaning pots, such as the two and a half by two and a half inch nylon scrapers sold by webstaurantstore.com.

If the glass still isn’t clean, you might want to scrape the glass with a razor blade, just as you would clean a stubborn spill on a glass cooktop. Use a single-edge blade, secured in a holder if you have one. Dampen the glass first, and make successive, slightly overlapping passes across the glass. Keep the blade at a low angle, and avoid tipping the blade sideways, which could cause a corner of the metal to dig in and scratch the glass.

If you don’t want to try this or can’t get the glass clean, hiring a professional cleaner might be an option. But ask questions first to ensure you will get something you haven’t already tried. For example, Spekless Cleaning tackles ovens as part of what it calls targetted cleaning. For USD50 an hour with a minimum of two hours for two people (so USD200 to start), the crew will spray the oven with a glass cleaner, let it sit, then wipe the surfaces. If crud remains, they will tell you the rest is not removable. But that’s it. They don’t scrape or use abrasives. You are free, though, to ask the team to clean other items during that two-hour window.

A final option, perhaps one to hold in reserve if you do scratch the glass, is to replace the inside piece of glass on the door. The website appliancepartspros.com lists part AP6019100 for your range. You could hire an appliance-repair person to make the switch, or you could probably do it yourself with guidance from YouTube videos. Search for an appropriate tutorial by doing a Web search for “inner glass replacement on Whirlpool oven door.”

Or you could just live with the scratches, which surely would be less noticeable than the spatters are now. Scratched glass on an oven door is not a safety hazard, Sadler said.