While we still talk about “spring cleaning,” I notice that autumn’s a time when a lot of people get rid of junk, and I feel the urge to clean about now. It’s ridiculously cold so I can’t throw windows open, but there’s a lull between Christmas and New Year that makes me feel domestic. And I like the idea of starting 2005 with clean moulding and shelves rearranged.

And with clean ovens, too, after the Thanksgiving and Christmas baking. Like you, I’ve read those Green tips about cleaning an oven with a paste of baking soda and water. Forget it! The crud in an oven is baked on. I actually have two ovens to clean. One I did with the dregs of a can of oven-cleaner, and lots of scrubbing. For the second, I actually used the self-cleaning system (after 10 years in the house I got it to work!).

Neither method is at all green. The first uses strong chemicals in an aerosol can; the second uses a heck of a lot of electricity.

I’ve learned two things: (1) it’s really nice to have a clean oven (as you can tell, this doesn’t happen to me very often–maybe every five years), and (2) prevention is the name of the game, in cleaning as well as personal health. I don’t want to go through this–the smells, the guilt!–again soon, so I’m going to put a baking tray on the lower shelf to catch drips, and use larger baking pans so food doesn’t spatter. Easy stuff, isn’t it?