So one way of keeping it clean is to periodically check it and spot clean it. Most of you probably aren't there yet. So let's start at the beginning...
Here's my stove after all my holiday baking and after the perfect pizza decided it was better to go out kamikaze style rather than be eaten. Chicken, spinach, creme fresh, ricotta....so sad. It needs some work but I've seen worse.
Now I try to be as green as I can. I reduce, reuse, recycle as much as possible. I try to use environment friendly products. I admire other people that go all natural with their cleaning, I have to admit, I want it CLEAN and sometimes vinegar & baking soda don't do anything but make cool fizz.
So how do we start cleaning the oven? Take off the door. It's easy to procrastinate cleaning the oven when working around the door is a pain. They come off though! It's a miracle! Open your oven door to the point where it will stay open without closing. Now just slide it off. Awesome huh? Maybe I'm just easy to please. Some doors have a locking mechanism at the hinge so unlock it to slide off the door.
My cleaning products of choice for the stove are Bar Keeper's Friend, a few small steel wool pads, and water. You can use vinegar if you wish. I like to sprinkle the powder on the bad parts, make a paste with the liquid and then start scrubbing. Try and do the top first, then the sides for the sake of drips. When you're finished just give it a nice wipe down with a damp towel. If you've never heard of Bar Keeper's Friend rest assured, Wal-Mart has it!
The After.....so pretty!
If you'd like to use the self cleaning feature, feel free. I've found they aren't great for heavy jobs but once you do the hard spots the self cleaning feature works great. I sometimes use it for cleaning the top part of the oven because I don't enjoy laying on my back to clean it. With self cleaning the oven will get insanely hot, you might think it's going to explode, it will smell funny, and it takes about 4 hours to do. All normal. When we had a parakeet I was always afraid the smell would hurt him but I just moved them to a different room or put them outside. Opening windows to keep the air clean and temperature down helps too.
To help keep it clean, line the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil and cook dishes that might bubble over on a cookie sheet. Now I can tell you, spot clean it periodically.
If you're cleaning the entire appliance it's best to look at the instructions to learn how the oven adapts for cleaning. My top can be lifted up and held in place with a long pole while I scrub the area under the burners. I don't have a flat top :( so the drip pans have to come off to clean the top thoroughly. I replaced my aluminum drip pans with black ones to camouflage the burnt stuff I can't get off. I use Bar Keeper's Friend all over the top too. If your stove has a bottom drawer, that more than likely slides out with a little lift so you can get all the dust bunnies underneath there. Some glass cleaner on the front and control panel and you're good to go!
Good luck and enjoy your clean stove.