How to Clean an Oven

By: Debbie Wolfe

Keeping your oven clean helps it cook efficiently, prevents unsavory burnt food smells from seeping into your food, and prolongs its lifespan. Here’s everything you need to know about how to clean an oven.

How to clean an oven naturally

If you’re looking for DIY options to clean your oven, look no further than your pantry and refrigerator. Chances are, you have everything you need to make a homemade, natural cleaner (that’s safe for you, your kids, and your pets). Using items like baking soda, vinegar, and lemons are effective, but they will take a bit of elbow grease to get the job done.

Method #1—Baking soda and vinegar

Materials

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Dish washing gloves
  • Dish cloth
  • Silicone spatula
  • Spray bottle
  • White vinegar
  • Stiff bristle cleaning brush
  • Dish washing soap
  • Rubber gloves
  1. Empty the oven—Remove the oven racks, pizza stone, and anything else you have inside the oven. 
  2. Create a paste—Mix a 1/2 cup of baking soda and a few tablespoons of water in a small bowl until it resembles a thick paste. Add more baking soda and water as needed to get the right consistency. 
  3. Coat the oven—Put on gloves. Spread the paste around the interior surfaces of the oven and avoid the heating elements. Let it sit overnight or for at least 12 hours. 
  4. Clean the oven racks—While you’re waiting, clean the oven racks in soapy water and let them sit for four hours. After letting them soak, remove any caked on gunk with a stiff bristle brush and let them dry.
  5. Wipe down the interior—In the oven, sse a damp dish cloth to wipe out as much of the dried baking soda paste. Use a silicone spatula to scrape off any caked on paste.
  6. Spray a cleaning solution—Pour one cup of white vinegar into a spray bottle. Spray the vinegar onto the baking soda residue in the oven to create a gentle foam.
  7. Wipe again—Use a damp cloth to clean away any remaining foam in the oven.
  8. Replace the oven racks—Once the inside of the oven and your oven racks are dry, reinsert the racks back into the oven.

Method #2—Lemons

Materials

  • Heat-resistant bowl (with an eight-cup capacity, at minimum)
  • Water
  • Two lemons
  • Silicone spatula
  • Scouring pad
  • Old cloth or paper towels
  1. Empty the oven—Remove everything from inside the oven, but leave the racks. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Fill a bowl—With warm water, fill the bowl until it’s about 1/3 full.
  3. Add the lemons—Slice the lemons in half. Squeeze the juice out of the lemons into the water and put them in the bowl.
  4. Place the bowl in the oven—Once the oven is preheated, put the bowl in the oven and let it sit for about 30 minutes. 
  5. Let it cool—After 30 minutes has passed, turn off the oven and let the interior cool down with the door closed.
  6. Scrub—Once the oven has cooled, remove the bowl and use the scouring pad and silicone spatula to remove any debris and gunk, including any grime found on the oven racks.
  7. Wipe—Use a damp cloth or damp paper towels to wipe away any remaining grime.

How to clean an oven with store-bought cleaning products

This is one of the easiest and fastest methods to remove heavy duty buildup of grease and grime in your oven. However, store-bought oven cleaners like ammonia or products with a high concentration of chemicals, can be caustic and cause respiratory issues. You will need to wear protective clothing, and make sure the room is well ventilated when going this route.

Materials

  • Store-bought oven cleaner
  • Rubber gloves
  • Face mask
  • Safety glasses
  • Towel, sponge, or paper towels
  • Trash bag
  1. Put on protective gear—To prevent chemicals from getting on your skin or in your eyes, put on rubber gloves, a face mask, and safety glasses.
  2. Start with a cold oven—Make sure the self-cleaning cycle is off and the oven is cold.
  3. Empty the oven—Remove the oven racks and anything else that is in the oven.
  4. Ventilate the room—Open a window and turn on the oven’s exhaust fan. 
  5. Spray the cleaner—Coat the oven walls and floor with the chemical spray. If you have an electric oven, try not to get the cleaner on the heating elements. To get around them, gently lift the heating elements and spray underneath.
  6. Wait—Close the oven door and wait for two hours (or as long as the instructions indicate on the cleaner) to allow the foam cleaner to penetrate the grime.
  7. Clean the racks—You can use the store-bought oven cleaner to clean the oven racks. Take the racks outside and spray them with the cleaner. Put the racks in a large trash bag and let them sit for two hours.
  8. Wipe clean—Using a wet sponge, damp cloth, or paper towels, wipe down the oven and oven racks. Reinsert the racks into the oven once they’re dry.

How to clean a self-cleaning oven

Many ovens come with a self-cleaning option. This is the easiest method to clean an oven because it doesn’t take much physical effort. It uses very intense heat to burn debris, grease, and dirt into ash. Self-cleaning ovens differ from model to model, so look at your owner’s manual for specific directions on how to clean your appliance.

  1. Empty the oven—Take out the oven racks and make sure the inside of the oven is free of debris. You can leave the racks in the oven if they have enough heavy build-up on them.
  2. Set the clean cycle—Lock the oven door (some models will automatically lock when you select the self-cleaning cycle) and turn the self-cleaning cycle on. Safety tip: never run the self cleaning cycle on your oven while not at home. The average cleaning cycle takes about three hours.
  3. Let the oven cool—After the self-cleaning cycle ends, allow the oven to cool down for a couple of hours. 
  4. Wipe—Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe out the ash from inside the oven and to clean the racks (if needed).

How to clean oven racks

Getting your oven racks squeaky clean is simple, but it does take some time. Here’s an easy method to get them clean without any harsh chemicals:

  1. Remove the racks from the oven.
  2. Fill your bathtub with hot water and a 1/2 cup of dish soap.
  3. Place the racks in the soapy water and let them soak for four hours.
  4. After they soak, use a stiff bristle brush to remove any caked on gunk.
  5. Once cleaned, rinse and remove from the tub and set them out to dry.
  6. Reinsert them back in the oven once they’re completely dry.

How to clean oven knobs

Oven knobs get handled often, leaving them covered with dirt and germs. They need cleaning more often than the oven. Here’s how to clean them:

  1. Pull the knobs off—Remove the knobs and and allow them to soak in a bowl of white vinegar. If your knobs are not removable, spray them thoroughly with white vinegar.
  2. Wipe them down—Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the front of the stove where the knobs are located. You may need to spritz the area with vinegar and let it sit for a couple of minutes if there’s any caked on grime.
  3. Clean the knobs—Remove the knobs from the vinegar and wipe them down. Allow them to dry and replace them onto the appliance.

How to clean glass oven doors

Oven doors have three layers: an exterior layer, an interior layer, and an in-between layer. The outside and inside panels are easy to access and clean. Use vinegar to wipe the outside door and use the baking soda and vinegar method to clean the inside door—you don’t have to let this paste sit overnight (20–30 minutes will work).

The tricky part is cleaning the glass panel between the oven door. To clean the glass, you’ll need to remove the oven door. Look at your instruction manual for specific directions on how to do this before you start.

Materials

  • Screwdriver
  • Large towel or sheet
  • Supplies for one of the cleaning methods above
  1. Prep the floor—Lay your towel or sheet on the kitchen floor.
  2. Remove the oven door—Consult your oven manual to see how to remove the oven door.
  3. Lower it to the floor—Carefully remove the oven door and lay it on the towel with the inside window facing up. Note: this part may be challenging, so you may want to have someone assist with this part of the process.
  4. Remove the glass—Take the door apart and lay the two sides next to each other. 
  5. Clean the glass—The innermost glass of each half of the door should be facing upward. Clean the glass using the baking soda and vinegar method. 
  6. Replace—With the assistance of your helper, reassemble and replace the oven door. 

How to clean an oven’s exterior

Just like the inside of your oven, it’s important to clean up spills and drips before they harden. Keeping the oven’s exterior clean will not only keep it in excellent working order, it will extend the lifespan of your appliance. Here are some tips to keep your oven’s exterior clean:

  1. Be sure all surfaces are cool before cleaning any part of the oven.
  2. Use dish soap, warm water, and a cloth to thoroughly clean the top, sides, and front of the oven’s exterior. Don’t let water or soap drip into the vent at the top of the door.
  3. Rinse and dry the exterior well.

Emergency oven cleaning tips

Spills happen, pies and casseroles bubble over, and pizza cheese will drip—don’t stress. If you can’t wipe up the mess right way, here are a couple of emergency oven cleaning tips that will save your clean-up time later:

  • Prevention—When baking, place cooking pans on a baking sheet to catch any drips. It’s much easier to pop baking sheets into a dishwasher than it is to scrub your oven.
  • Salt—Put a handful of salt on top of the spill and continue with your baking. The salt will contain the spill and not smoke. After the oven cools, simply scoop out the mess.

How to prevent grime buildup in your oven

Stay ahead of grime by preventing it in the first place. Cover pans with lids or aluminum foil when cooking to minimize splatter and place baking sheets on the bottom racks when baking to catch spills. If there is a spill, wipe it up as soon as the oven cools but before it hardens.

A heavily used oven needs cleaning every three months and a deep clean once a year, so work this task into a seasonal maintenance schedule.

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