Lessons in being a grown up: Oven Cleaning - is it worth it?

This is how I generally feel about housework....
Every now and then something happens that makes you question whether you’re actually a grown up or not. For me, this question is usually prompted by housework, or when I have to spend money on things I consider to be incredibly boring: curtains, sensible knitwear, replacement garage doors. Yawn.

Over Christmas I spotted a post in the Maidenhead Gossip Girls group on Facebook (which, by the way, is life changing in itself – you’ll wonder how you ever got anything done in Maidenhead before you were a member). For those not in the loop, this group is a forum where other mums and ladies  (who live locally) share ideas and recommendations for local businesses and various other things. Need to find someone to fix your fence/ sort you some contact lenses or design you an engagement ring…. ? Ping, you’ll have suggestions flying back in minutes. (Click here to join the group!) A warning though- its highly addictive! 

Anyway, whilst having my daily mooch in the group I saw a post for oven cleaning from F T Fosters in Binfield and a promise of a discount if you mentioned the Maidenhead Gossip Girls group. Normally this sort of thing would be buried in the ‘things I’ll do when I’m a proper mum and grown up file’, but seeing as I spent Christmas Eve trying to cook burgers from the hallway with my eyes streaming as it was too smoky to get any closer to our grill, I thought that perhaps I should at least enquire. I should also add I’ve only lived in the house for year, but we’ve realized that the previous owners didn’t really like cleaning… anything…. And that includes the oven, so it had a fair old build up of grease, it’s not just that I burn things all the time when I cook. (Honest!)

So I sent off a description of my oven and within 24 hours I had a response- they’d be happy to help and it would be £45 for the double oven. Hmmm. This was now definitely pushing the boundary into a ‘boring/ grown up thing to pay for’. So I didn’t reply and pondered on whether the return on investment in terms of joy and satisfaction would be worth £45. My thought process was along the lines of

I just don’t think I’m the type of girl that would spend £45 on a clean oven. That’s a pair of shoes.’


‘I know I’m a mum, but I used to go clubbing and dance all night. Is this the level of my life has been reduced to? Clean Oven joy?! I can't put that on Facebook- people will take the mick!’

Plus, I have to admit there was also the guilt that if I just got motivated and put in a few hours myself with a bit of elbow grease and some heavy duty Mr Muscle Oven cleaning thingies, (technical term) then surely that would be the same thing.

So when Aimee rang me to see if I’d received their email I was caught on the hop a bit and I did blurt out that I just didn’t know if I wanted to spend that much money on a clean oven. But she was very friendly and we got chatting and we agreed that they would come and clean the oven at a discounted rate for me in return for me sharing my experiences with other mums in Maidenhead on my blog.

So here’s what happened next…

I booked for them to come over on a Thursday when I’m at home with the little one - which raised my first question- what about the chemicals and the smell? My experience with the shop bought ones (or being more honest, when my mum used the shop bought ones) is that they really catch your throat and I didn’t want the little one around if that was the case. She assured me that it would be fine, it would take a few hours and that I could leave her husband to it and nip out if I wanted. Perfect.

On the day Frank arrived nice and punctual at 9.45 with his blue van, slightly reminiscent of the A-team. I’d rescued the chargrilled grill pan which I’d stashed in the garage after the smokin’ Christmas Eve event (ever the domestic goddess!) and had put it back in the oven ready to be cleaned. He explained that he would set the van up and then he would remove anything that could be removed from the oven (including the doors!) and they would be dipped in the baths in the van.  He’d then use a combination of cleaning products, elbow grease and razor blades to clean the inside of the ovens. Flippin Eck. Razor Blades?! I was intrigued as to how that would work! Again, he assured me their stuff was non-caustic which was good to hear first hand.

Here’s how it looked when Frank arrived:

Not so bad on the outside....
But both ovens were pretty grimy on the inside

He gave the oven a check over and noted anything that was damaged or missing on a form for me, but that was all he needed from me so I left him to it. (As much as I could – both myself and the little one were fascinated with his box of cleaning stuff and van full of tricks!). Even the postman came and stuck his head round the door and asked for Frank’s details as he wanted to get his own oven cleaned!

Van full of tricks

He put stuff down to stop the floor getting muddy. Nice touch.

Kitchen take over... But he let me nip in whenever I needed tea/ biscuits!

Someone was just as curious as me!
Frank's bag of tricks. Its Magic.

Postman asking for Frank's details!

So for the next 4 and a bit hours Frank grafted away. There was a great moment when he went out to the van and clouds of steam billowed out of the van- I had to take a photo to send to my other half. This was proper geeky/ hi-tech cleaning - science stuff. MAN STUFF! (Bet Frank eats Yorkies)

I also started to feel a bit embarrassed that it was taking so long and that this reflected badly on me for having the worst oven in Maidenhead, but Frank assured me that he’d seen much worse. (Frank- even if this isn’t true, thanks for saying it).

So, the moment of truth, what did it look like after?


It wasn’t just a clean oven, it was a ‘fully-restored-to-showroom-finish’ oven! I had no idea that our oven was actually matt grey on the inside- I’d only ever really seen it as being black and grimy. I’m not overhyping it for the purpose of the blogpost. It really was amazing. And I was amazed that I was actually chuffed to bits about it. Turns out its actually a pretty satisfying thing to get done.

And then like a true saddo/ maddo I proceeded to share this joy with anyone that came to my house that day and that week – ‘LOOKATMYOVENITSACTUALLYGREY!’  I HAD NO IDEA!

Shiny on the outside....

Flippin eck! Lovely shade of sparkly grey!
Absolutely spotless and sparkling. Terrified to cook in it now!
So I guess the moral of this story is that actually, what FTP are able to do is not just oven cleaning. Its more like oven restoring. If they’d asked me if I’d like a brand new oven for £45, I’d have jumped at the chance, even though I probably wouldn’t have really believed that it was possible. Its definitely worth the investment, especially if you’re moving to a new house and inheriting someone else’s oven- you’ll feel like you had a fresh start.

Notes on this post- As mentioned, I had the oven cleaned for a discounted rate, but I'm always honest about the things I try out for the blog. It was genuinely a great thing to have done and I wouldn't hesitate to pay the full price if I ever need it again in the future. If you want to find out more you can visit their website http://ftfosterservices.com.

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