How Clean Can You Get My AGA?

By Graham Rogers

How Clean Can You Get My AGA cooker? Now that’s a good question! The answer is really, really clean. I have cleaned hundreds of AGAs myself and trained all of my employees and franchisees how to clean an AGA to highest standard. We have set process in place to achieve this which everyone is checked off on. The thing about cleaning an AGA though is it is a tough job. Two to three hours of real effort to achieve the results. I know of lots of oven cleaning companies who just don’t bother cleaning AGAs as they are ‘too much work’. 

The older the AGA though the more difficult it can be clean because the grime has turned into really hard burnt on carbon that can be impossible to remove (I’ve only ever had one or two like this though).  As I found out this week with an old Standard AGA, dating from about 1959, I cleaned this week.

So for AGAs which are up to 20 years old it usually is a straight forward clean. But older ones the carbon can be so burnt on it is impossible to clean, the enamel disappears and the carbon becomes ingrained into the metal.

This week I had a complaint – the first and only complaint in the last seven years for an AGA I have personally cleaned myself – the last one was in September 2010. It wasn’t about the burnt on carbon I couldn’t get off (though I did get 90% of it off), it’s what was found with the tooth pick test after I had left.

So a new question we are now going to ask is would your AGA clean pass the cocktail stick/tooth pick test?

So I cleaned an old Standard AGA Cooker this week. When I got there it seemed like it was going to be a straight forward clean. The AGA looked cleaner than most AGAs still in their original state of this age (i.e not renovated, pure original).  It had none of the really thick grease on the top or really thick grease on the inside of the doors which you normally associate with the an AGA of this age (at least 60 years old – it had the old coal access lid on the left hand top plate). I made the mistake of telling the customer this.

When I started cleaning it I found that there were strips of burnt on carbon along the edges of the doors that were very difficult to get off.  The door enamel strips inside the oven were very difficult to. So hidden problems in the clean which I don’t think I’ve seen before.

So the job took me three hours when a two oven AGA normally is around about  two hours. Some of that extra time though was taken up replacing the AGA lid seals.

I just couldn’t get off some bits on the AGA top, burnt on carbon, which even with the sharpest blade wasn’t budging.

So the toothpick test?

I finished the job. Later that day, in the office, we had a call from the owner, she had left me in the house, so she hadn’t been there when I finished the clean. So I was unable to talk through with her the details and the problems I had had with the clean. She said: “It hasn’t been cleaned properly as when I used my toothpick I could get grime out from around the top screws on the AGA top”. “Okay fair enough” I said, and I then arranged to go back to re clean the bits I had missed a couple of days later.

I got there today. I asked her what was wrong. She said: “It’s not in showroom condition. You wouldn’t find grease like this around the top screws in a showroom!” I apologised and explained to her that some of the 60 year old grease was very difficult to get off and I must have in my efforts to remove that missed some of the smaller detail. I asked her if there was anything else I had missed? She said that there were cobwebs around the flue cover and hinges and I had missed the underside of the front. So in my mind I thought this would take me less than ten minutes to clean. 

I then asked her if there was anything else I needed to do? Which to me is a fair question. I normally get a list together and then at the end I can check with the owner that the bits that have been missed are cleaned to their satisfaction. I’m not sure why this upset the owner and her husband.

But her husband who was also in the kitchen lost his temper and asked me for full refund and to leave!

So in all an unsatisfactory outcome. I hadn’t been able to resolve the small issues of the clean; and I had intended to ensure that I got it clean to their satisfaction. The owners were very unhappy as it hadn’t passed the AGA Cleaning Tooth Pick Test.

So notes for me from this experience:

Don’t tell the owner of an older AGA that “it’s not that bad” and then have to regret this when you spend a lot of time just trying to get small amounts of burnt off carbon off.

That some people take what you write on your website literally. So that when we say on our AGA Cleaning page:  ‘bring back to as new show room shine’ means just that even if the AGA is an old AGA that can only be restored to ‘as new’ by an extensive re-enamelling process, and not the clean alone.

Take my own toothpick with me when I clean AGAs!

Send one of my employees back to do the re-clean!

Start making people aware of our certification programme which we award to our employees and franchisee who follow our processes to achieve the OvenGleamers standard for cleaning AGAs.

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About the Author

Graham Rogers Started OvenGleamers as one man in a van in Taunton in 2004. The business grew to a five van operation by 2007. OvenGleamers first franchisee started in October 2010. OvenGleamers Became An Associate Member of British Franchise Association in 2012. Now growing National OvenGleamers Network. OvenGleamers are AGA and Big Cooker Cleaning Specialists. Graham writes on this blog and films videos and has a podcast.