AT HOME MAGAZINE

How to clean the grime between the panes of an oven door

Q: The window on our JennAir combination microwave/wall oven has become an absolute eyesore because of spilled liquid running between the dual glass windowpanes. We have investigated DIY ways to clean the glass, but the process looks daunting with mixed results. What is the easiest way to clean the window? Or should we hire a professional?

A: There are two ways to clean between the glass panes on oven doors. One involves snaking a slim cleaning wand through the vent holes at the bottom of the door and wiping the glass. The other approach calls for taking the door apart so you can clean the interior side of each pane just as you would clean any other glass surface.

Slipping a cleaning wand between the panes could be what you’re calling “DIY ways to clean the glass.” Online videos suggest wrapping a glass cleaning wipe around a coat-hanger wire. One from GE suggests you wrap a washcloth around the end of a wooden yardstick and secure the cloth with tape or rubber bands. Of the two approaches, using a yardstick seems like a better bet because of its wider cleaning surface. There’s also less risk of scratching the glass if the cloth comes loose and you accidentally rub the glass with the bare wand.

To access the vent holes, you would need to remove the door, unless there is an access panel or storage door under the oven that slips out. Removing a door on a modern oven is usually fairly simple, but the procedure varies depending on the model you own. Check your user manual or go online to view instructions for your specific model. JennAir, for example, makes models that do and don’t have latch hinges. The company has a video showing how to remove doors of both styles.

There is one big advantage of trying to clean between the panes while the door is intact: Because you don’t have to take anything apart, there’s no risk of losing screws or washers, or forgetting in which order to put the parts back together. But there are downsides, too: What if the cloth comes off and gets stuck between the glass panes? And is it even possible to clean the glass thoroughly this way?

“Trying to poke something up there - it’s going to be half a job,” said Butch Affeldt, manager of the Bowie, Maryland, location of Bray & Scarff, an appliance dealer in the Washington-Baltimore area. “You can’t reach everything.”

Years before he went to work for Bray & Scarff, Affeldt was faced with the same issue. He had never before taken apart an oven door, but he was pretty confident in his mechanical abilities. He spread out a comforter and got a screwdriver sized for the slots in the screws holding the oven door together. He took the door off, placed it on the comforter, took the screws out, cleaned the glass, and put the door back together and reinstalled it. “Once you’ve seen it done once, you know what to do,” he said. “But it all depends on the capabilities of the person.”

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YouTube has videos showing the process. One good one is from Searspartsdirect.com. But you will need to adapt procedures shown in the videos. For example, the screws holding the two panels together on your oven door might be on the edges of the door rather than on the back, which is what is shown in several of the videos. How the handle is attached might vary, too.

If you don’t feel comfortable taking the door apart, you can certainly get professional help. Appliance stores often service only equipment they have sold, as is the case for Bray & Scarff. Affeldt said service calls start at $100.

Disassembling a door and cleaning the glass - a step that might include scrubbing the glass with superfine steel wool or scraping the glass with a razor blade - usually costs $160 to $200, a Repair99 spokeswoman said. When a house is being put up for sale, people sometimes opt to replace the glass instead, she said. That’s typically $250 to $300.

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