How To Clean Ovens The Easy Way

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The first time I cleaned my oven, I stood completely perplexed. With yellow rubber gloves and some cleanser in hand, I was not excited about this seemingly daunting task. 

Gazing at all that accumulated gunk, I couldn’t even remember the last time anyone had even remotely tried to clean that thing. After many attempts of furiously scrubbing with various products, I finally figured it out.

If you too have been trying to figure out how to clean ovens the easy way, then you’ve come to the right place. Numerous DIY, natural, and store-bought cleaners can help ease your suffering. There are also some pertinent must-knows to simplify the oven cleaning process.

Here you’ll find a compiled list of various cleaning methods along with some helpful tips and tricks. If you’re ready to use a little bit of elbow grease and get that oven looking like new, let’s dive right in!

Related: Check out our other guides for more useful tips.

Things to Know Before Cleaning Your Oven

Before you slap on the kitchen gloves, let’s go over some of the basics about what you should know prior to scrubbing out all that stubborn grease and grime. 

Why You Should Clean Your Oven

Besides your oven looking disgusting, there are some good reasons why you should invest the time in cleaning it.

Dirty oven

For starters, burnt food stuck inside your oven can affect the quality of the dish you’re preparing. Next, you could wind up setting off the smoke alarm. Leftover food residue and grease can lead to an oven fire if it builds up too much.

Lastly, like all your other kitchen appliances, cleaning increases product longevity.

How Often You Should Clean Your Oven

This varies. If you rarely use your oven, you can get away with cleaning it every six months or so. For avid home cooks, you’ll want to tackle cleaning your oven every three months.

Of course, there may be some exceptions to this timeframe. The main ones being odor and smoke. If you notice a funky smell wafting from your oven, then it’s time to start scrubbing. The same applies if that built-up grease residue is causing smoke.

How Long You Should Wait Before Using Your Oven

There is a grace period to using the oven right after cleaning if you used chemicals. How long that period lasts depends on the product. Some product manufacturers, such as Easy-Off, tell you to preheat the oven to 300°F and wait 15 minutes.

When in doubt, look at the instructions for your product. The wait time should be listed. 

With natural homemade cleaners, you should be able to use it right away. Natural cleaners such as baking soda and vinegar don’t possess the same harsh chemicals as store-bought.

What About the Self-Cleaning Function?

The self-cleaning oven function is a blessing. This nifty feature basically heats up the oven to such a high degree that any food residue inside is incinerated. We’re talking 800°F and up. 

oven controls

The high heat makes it easier to wipe out all that residue once the oven has cooled. The drawback is this process takes about 3 hours.

If your oven has really been neglected, you’re likely to have to repeat the cycle. Some additional elbow grease may also be required.

While you may be tempted to also use a store-bought cleaner during this process, it’s advised not to. This can damage your oven depending on its construction. 

Oh, and don’t forget to peek inside before starting! If you’re short on kitchen space like I am, then you probably store some pots or baking pans in your oven. Be sure to remove these before using the self-clean function. They may not be able to withstand the high heat. 

While the convenience and ease of use can be tempting, there are some concerns raised by many appliance experts. These concerns focus mainly on dangerous fumes and potential fire hazards. Read this article before deciding on going the self-cleaning route.

What About Steam Cleaning an Oven?

Steam cleaning is a simple solution for minor messes. It’s also relatively fast compared to self-cleaning ovens.

DIY Steam Cleaning

For this method, place a baking dish filled with water inside the oven. Set it to 350°F and let the oven do its thing for about 30 minutes. Once the oven has cooled you can finish by wiping it clean.

You can also add some white vinegar or lemon to the water. The acid will help to de-grease and remove grime. 

Steam Cleaning Function

Some ovens include a steam clean function. These ovens will introduce water to create steam at 250°F. This process takes about 30 to 60 minutes to complete. 

The idea is the steam will help loosen up food residue. From there you can wipe it clean. However, you still may need to scrub depending on the severity of the mess.

Handheld Steam Cleaner

Another option is using a portable steam cleaner. It not only works well on your oven, but comes in handy all through the house.

Steam cleaner

Tips For Easier Cleaning

There are a few cooking precautions you can take to make life easier down the road.

Quick Wipe Down

I’d be lying if I said I wiped out my oven after every use.  Most of the time I find it’s not even necessary. That is, most of the time.

If you do happen to notice any spillage, splatter, or dropped food, give your oven a quick wipe. Be careful not to burn yourself.

Soap and water or a quick white vinegar spritz will do just fine. This will save you some serious effort in the future. 

Catch Spills

There are certain foods you know are bound to spill or splatter. I’m talking to you basted turkey!  

A helpful trick is to place a baking sheet underneath to catch drips. You can also use a closed container if the dish allows.

Natural DIY Oven Cleaners Versus Store-Bought Oven Cleaners

I’m all for natural, homemade oven cleaners. The thought of toxic chemical residue potentially venting into my food doesn’t sound appealing. 

Homemade natural cleaners are non-toxic and affordable. 

There are many different DIY ingredients you can choose but my favorite is baking soda and vinegar. The combination of the two works beautifully to tackle stubborn messes.

However, I understand not everybody has the time to mix up their own cleaning solutions. There are some store-bought cleaners made precisely for this purpose. They tend to be very effective and some even claim to be fume-free. 

Some are even made with natural ingredients. However, I urge you to look at the ingredients listed on the label to be sure.

Baking soda & vinegar

Recommended DIY Cleaners

  • Baking Soda and Water
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar
  • Baking Soda and Lemon
  • Biodegradable Soap and Water

Recommended Store-Bought Cleaners

  • Green Gobbler Orange Oil
  • Professional Easy-Off Oven Cleaner
  • Method Heavy Duty Degreaser
  • Carbona Oven Cleaner

How to Clean Your Oven

Burnt cheese, splattered oil, or scorched food remnants, the current products in your kitchen are typically enough to tackle these messes. Store-bought degreaser oven cleaners are also up to the task.

But before getting started, I recommend removing the oven racks so you can multitask your cleaning duties.

Tri-Monthly Clean: Baking Soda and Water

One of the best tricks to cleaning an oven is just some good old baking soda and water. Baking soda is effective, affordable, and odds are you already have it on hand.

  1. Mix ½ cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water to create a spreadable paste.
  2. Apply the paste to the oven interior, glass included. A brush works well for this.
  3. Let sit for 1 hour. For a deeper clean, let the paste sit for 12 hours or overnight. 
  4. Using a towel or sponge, remove cleaner and residue. Wet and ring out towel and sponge as needed.

Deep Clean: Baking Soda, Water, and Vinegar

If you really want to get things sparkling, you can add in a spritz of white vinegar. White vinegar is a natural ingredient that does wonders for cleaning. When it reacts with baking soda it will start to foam and create the ideal cleaning agent.

  1. Mix ½ cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water to a spreadable paste consistency.
  2. Apply the paste to the oven interior, glass included, using a brush works well for this.
  3. Let it sit for 12 hours or overnight.  
  4. Spray the paste with white vinegar.
  5. Using a towel or sponge, remove cleaner and residue. Wet and ring out towel and sponge as needed.

Quick Clean: Baking Soda and Vinegar

If you don’t want to make a paste, you can still get a good clean with baking soda and vinegar. The only thing about this method is it’s harder to clean the top and sides because the baking soda won’t stick. However, it’s good for a quick clean.

  1. Sprinkle baking soda inside the stove. 
  2. Spray the baking soda with vinegar.
  3. Let it foam for at least an hour. 
  4. Using a sponge or damp cloth, wipe the inside clean. Scrub if necessary.

Simple Clean: Soap and Water

Or course, you can always resort to soap and hot water. This works well for lighter cleaning, but I wouldn’t recommend this method for tougher jobs. For really caked-on grime, use the deep clean method.

  1. Fill a bucket with hot soap and water.
  2. Using a sponge, scrub the interior of the oven. 
  3. Wipeout any food residue. 
  4. Wipe clean with a cloth. 

Store-bought Cleaners

Store-bought cleaners will vary in use. Be sure to thoroughly read the directions and follow them accordingly. The chemicals used in store-bought cleaners often require venting so make sure you pay special attention.

Open windows and allow proper ventilation to flow through the kitchen. I also recommend wearing gloves to avoid getting chemicals on your hands. 

How to Clean Oven Glass

The methods mentioned above should also be enough to clean the grease off your oven glass window. If you do find yourself with an extra stubborn mess, scrubbing with a sponge should do the trick.

Oven glass

Glass still not squeaky clean? This is probably because the oven has a double-paned glass window. In this case, you’ll need to remove the glass to clean the grease that seeped inside. Consult your oven’s owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website for instructions.

How to Clean Oven Racks

Even if you’re planning on using your oven’s self-cleaning function, it’s best to remove the racks beforehand. The extremely high temperature can damage the chrome finish. Instead, we’re going to head into the bathroom and give them a bath. Here’s how:

  1. Place an old towel into the tub to prevent scratching the porcelain
  2. Fill the tub with enough hot water to cover the racks
  3. Add approximately ½ cup of either dishwashing liquid or laundry detergent
  4. Let soak overnight
  5. Scrub racks with either a bristle brush or a scrubber sponge. If necessary, an old toothbrush can be used to get into the corners.
  6. For stubborn areas, try using Bar Keeper’s Friend.
  7. Rinse, dry, and place back in the oven

Don’t Put Off Cleaning Your Oven

If you’ve been putting off cleaning your oven, you should stop procrastinating. The longer you wait, the harder the job gets. Additionally, if you wipe down your oven more frequently, life will be much easier when it comes time for a deeper clean.

Homemade, all-natural, or store-bought degreaser, whatever you use, please clean your oven. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.

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Carissa Stanz

Carissa Stanz is a food writer and product reviewer. Getting her start slinging coffee, she has over a decade of experience in the food and beverage industry. Filmmaker by way of education, she’s hitting the books again, pursuing a remote degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences from Oregon State University. When she’s not working, you can find her whipping up tasty recipes and obsessing over kitchen gadgets. She loves cooking over an open flame with a cast iron skillet and can’t resist a fresh bowl of poke.