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Let’s talk about ammonia.

Perhaps you’re completely taken aback by my suggestion.  Perhaps you are wondering why I would want to talk about ammonia.  Perhaps you’re thinking about where you last saw that bottle of Windex and whether or not you should buy a new bottle because people are forever stealing your Windex.

Those are all excellent thoughts.  Well, maybe not the one about being taken aback.  That’s not really a thought.  But anyway, I would like to talk about ammonia because recently, I had this wonderful task of cleaning the kitchen.  In particular, the stove, oven, and range hood.

You might not think that this is a big deal.  Well, it is.  It is because my family is Asian.  Many Asians stir fry a lot.  Stir frying at home, while it’s nowhere near as greasy and gross as what you find in a typical Asian restaurant, still involves oil and is still frying.  That means you get a lot of grease and oil buildup on the stove and surrounding surfaces if you’re not careful.  And…that’s what happened with the stove and range hood that I was cleaning.

Now you’d think you can just use a degreaser, let it sit for a minute, and then wipe off this huge layer of grease with a sponge leaving this wonderfully clean surface in its wake, right?  I’m sure you’ve seen a commercial for an oven cleaner that magically works like that, right?

Well, none of the oven cleaners/degreasers that I’ve ever used works like that.  Nothing happens after a minute.  If you read the instructions, they normally ask you to leave it on the mess for at least 15 min.  But not just that, it has to be wet.  After a few minutes, the cleaner starts to dry.  So that means you have to baby sit the mess and keep spraying the moment it starts drying off so it can soak.

If you manage to do this, the oven cleaner/degreaser still doesn’t necessarily work like how you see in the commercials.  I don’t think you’ll ever be able to take a sponge and just wipe a whole section clean of grease.  I think the commercials are lying.  Or at least, greatly exaggerating.  All the oven cleaners/degreasers I’ve ever used only loosened the grease at best and make it slightly more feasible for me to scrub off the grease using a lot of scrubbing power.  Scrubbing power is kind of like drill power, but not really.

BUT!  I have found something that makes it seem like you’re in a kitchen cleaning commercial!  And that something is ammonia.  You can get a bottle of 10% ammonia from the hardware store for a few bucks.  If you pour about half a cup of that into an enclosed container or trash bag and then stick say…your cast iron stove grates that are hideously greasy into said enclosed space and the wondrously acrid ammonia fumes work their magi for a few hours, you might be able to pull the grates out of the ammonia fumes and wipe off the grease JUST LIKE HOW YOU SEE IN THE COMMERCIALS!

Now then, stove grates aren’t like oven doors.  You could stick a half cup of ammonia in the oven and close the door for a few hours and then pretend you’re in a oven cleaner commercial, but I actually wouldn’t recommend it unless you really had no other recourse in cleaning your oven.  Ammonia fumes are dangerous.  If you aren’t careful, you’ll burn your eyes and lungs and skin.  It’s really better to do all your cleaning with concentrated ammonia (Windex is only like 5% ammonia) outside or in some well-ventilated space.  Your oven is not a well-ventilated space.

So anyway, that’s my story about ammonia and my kitchen cleaning adventures.


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