How to Clean an Oven Quickly and Easily

Updated: Apr. 18, 2024

Say goodbye to grease, grime and baked-on gunk! Here's how to clean an oven the right way, according to cleaning pros.

When was the last time you cleaned your oven? Can you even remember? It’s a chore that somehow often slips our mind, especially right after cooking, when the oven is hot, or one that we put off because, well, it seems like a chore. But if you learn how to clean an oven the right way, it’s not that bad (really!). And more to the point, it’s not something you should ignore.

The first potential issue has to do with your food. “You don’t want old, burnt-on food taste getting into the food you are currently cooking,” says Rochelle Wilkinson, the owner of Dirt Detective Cleaning, who’s been doing deep-cleans for residential homes for 20 years. But beyond matters of taste, if you don’t clean your oven regularly, cooking grease can build up and potentially spark a kitchen fire.

Luckily, cleaning an oven doesn’t have to be difficult. Reader’s Digest consulted Wilkinson and fellow cleaning expert Johnny Pallares, who owns De La Rosa House Cleaning in Phoenix, to find the best ways to tackle this task. Together, these cleaning pros have nearly five decades of experience between them, and with them, we came up with the ultimate guide to cleaning your oven, inside and out.

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About the experts

  • Rochelle Wilkinson is the owner of Dirt Detective Cleaning. She has 20 years of experience cleaning homes in the greater Baltimore area and runs the company’s deep-cleaning division.
  • Johnny Pallares has been the owner of his family’s Phoenix-based professional cleaning business, De La Rosa Cleaning, since 2018. He grew up cleaning and has logged 25 years of firsthand experience.

Reviewed for accuracy by: Ann Russell, TikTok’s “cleaning auntie” and the author of How to Clean Everything.

How often should you clean your oven?

How often you should clean your oven depends a lot on how often you’re using it. But in general, you should wipe away any visible food drips, spills and crumbs after each use, Wilkinson says. This will ensure that you don’t accidentally bake these messes onto your oven’s interior, which will make them harder to clean later. Those leftover spills, when reheated, can also cause a burnt smell inside your oven.

Even with regular maintenance, though, an oven will get dirty with time and use, so aim to do a deep-clean every month or two. Not only is deep-cleaning important for preventing grease buildup that could lead to kitchen fires, but this kitchen-cleaning task can also help keep your oven in good working order, Pallares says.

How to clean the inside of an oven

The inside of the oven is where you’re going to concentrate most of your effort, because it’s the part that gets the dirtiest when you cook. While there are a variety of options for cleaning it out, some are better than others. “You can go the easy route and use a spray cleaner like Easy Off, but you have to be careful with products that use strong chemicals,” Wilkinson says. Some can damage the coatings on ovens and even emit noxious fumes that can be unhealthy if you don’t have enough ventilation.

We’ve provided detailed directions for five different oven-cleaning options, depending on your personal preferences and oven needs.

How to use the self-cleaner option

self clean ovenGrace Cary/getty images

A lot of ovens claim to be “self cleaning,” but what does that mean, exactly? This is a setting that heats the oven to a super-high temperature and burns away leftover food bits and residue. It’s particularly handy if you don’t want to wash your oven by hand.

There are two types of self-cleaning ovens: pyrolytic and catalytic. Pyrolytic cleaning involves heating the oven to a temperature hotter than 750 degrees so the food debris burns to dust for easy cleanup; it usually takes a few hours, and you can’t use the oven for cooking during this time. Catalytic cleaning, on the other hand, occurs in an oven that has special liners along the sides that absorb and break down grease and grime—and it basically cleans itself whenever you cook something at 392 degrees or above. It’s also a much faster process, usually taking between 15 and 30 minutes to complete, though it isn’t as thorough as pyrolitic cleaning.

Regardless of which kind of self-cleaning function your oven has, here are the general steps to follow, according to Wilkinson.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Paper towels
  • Cotton or microfiber cloths


  1. Open windows in the kitchen and turn on the exhaust fan. Running the self-cleaning function can emit smoke and potentially toxic fumes as grease and other food buildup is burned away at high temperatures. 
  2. Empty the oven completely, removing racks, food debris and leftover tinfoil. Anything left behind could start a fire.
  3. Consult your oven’s instruction manual to use the self-cleaning function as instructed. This usually entails making sure the oven door is securely closed and selecting the “self-clean” function. Some models allow you to select different cycles or lengths of time.
  4. Hit the start button, and allow the cycle to run fully.
  5. Allow the oven to cool down completely before opening.
  6. When cool, wipe away the residue with a damp cleaning cloth.

Important note: Don’t spray any cleaners inside the oven when using the self-cleaning mode. Doing so could damage the oven or emit even more toxic fumes, says Wilkinson.

How to steam-clean an oven

Some ovens have a steam-clean option. You should refer to your oven’s instruction manual on how to do this for your specific model, but generally, these are the steps.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Water
  • Nonabrasive sponge or microfiber cloth


  1. Empty the oven completely. Remove racks, food debris and leftover tinfoil.
  2. Pour 1 cup of plain tap water into the bottom of a cool oven.
  3. Close the oven door, and select the “steam clean” option.
  4. Let the cycle run. (It typically lasts around 30 minutes, but it will vary depending on the make and model of the oven.)
  5. After the cycle finishes, allow the oven to cool completely before opening. Be careful, as steam can burn.
  6. When cool, open the oven and wipe the interior with a nonabrasive sponge or microfiber cloth.

How to clean an oven with store-bought cleaner

Easy Off Being Sprayed In OvenTMB Studio

Sometimes, you need a powerful cleaner to remove heavy-duty muck and grime, but if you have young children in the house, or small pets such as birds or hamsters, it’s best to avoid sprays like Easy Off. “While they do make this job fast and easy, the chemicals can irritate the lungs of small humans and animals,” she says. If you do use a commercial oven spray, make sure the area is well ventilated with an open window and exhaust fan. You should also wear a mask, safety glasses and cleaning gloves.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Paper towels or dish cloths
  • Nonabrasive sponge
  • Store-bought oven cleaner


  1. Empty the oven. Remove the oven racks. (You’ll clean them separately; more on that below.)
  2. Wipe the inside of the oven with a paper towel or dish cloth to get rid of loose debris.
  3. Apply your store-bought cleaner to the inside of your oven. Refer to the instructions on the packaging for how long you should let the cleaner sit.
  4. After the recommended time, wipe the interior of the oven with a nonabrasive sponge or cloth to remove any residue.
  5. Wipe it again with a damp paper towel or nonabrasive sponge, and dry it with a clean (and dry) paper towel or sponge.
  6. Replace the oven racks after you’ve cleaned them.

Pro tip: When it comes to commercial cleaners, Pallares is a fan of Big Punch. “It’s an instant active oven-and-grill grease remover,” he says. “You let it sit for five minutes, and it eats away all the grease.” Pallares does warn that this is a strong cleaner, so if you do use it, make sure to take the precautions listed above.

How to clean an oven with baking soda

cleaning oven with baking soda pasteTMB Studio

For a nontoxic, all-natural option, try baking soda. Naturally abrasive and deodorizing, this easy homemade cleaner is effective, gentle and safe for you and your oven.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Nonabrasive sponges or paper towels


  1. Empty the oven. Remove the oven racks. (You’ll clean them separately; more on that below.)
  2. In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with just enough water to create a paste.
  3. Spread the paste inside the oven, and let it sit overnight.
  4. In the morning, use a damp nonabrasive sponge or paper towel to wipe away the baking soda paste.
  5. Wipe down the interior with a clean damp sponge or paper towel, making sure to remove all traces of the paste.
  6. Dry with a second towel or sponge.

How to clean an oven with vinegar

Plain white vinegar is another natural product that can be used to clean lots of different things in your home. It works well for ovens because it is naturally acidic, so it cuts through grease and has antibacterial properties. For this method, though, you won’t be applying vinegar to the oven’s interior. “The best way to clean an oven with vinegar is to put vinegar in a pot with water, put the pot in the oven and let it steam the oven clean,” says Wilkinson. Here is how to do it.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Dutch oven or other oven-proof pot
  • Vinegar
  • Paper towels or nonabrasive sponges


  1. Empty the oven, making sure to remove food debris, tinfoil and cookware, but leaving the oven racks in place.
  2. Fill a large oven-proof pot (like a Dutch oven) with water and 1 cup of white vinegar.
  3. Place the pot in the oven, on a center rack. Turn the oven to 375 degrees, and let the water boil until you see steam coming from the pot (about 10 minutes or so).
  4. Let it boil, and steam the oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn off the oven, and let it cool down completely. 
  6. When it’s cool, wipe the interior down with a clean, damp nonabrasive sponge or paper towel.
  7. Dry the oven with another clean paper towel or sponge.

How to clean oven racks

oven rack in bin with soap, scrubber and glovesTMB studio

Believe it or not, soaking your oven racks in the bathtub or a plastic bin that can accommodate them is an effective way to remove all the gunk on them. Here’s what to do, according to Wilkinson.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Old beach towel (to line your tub) or large plastic bin
  • Hot water
  • Dish soap
  • Stainless steel scrubber


  1. Line a bathtub with an old beach towel to prevent scratching, or use a plastic bin large enough to accommodate the oven racks.
  2. Place the oven racks on the towel in the bathtub, or in the bin.
  3. Fill the tub or bin with very hot water, enough to completely submerge the racks.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of dish soap to the hot water. Wilkinson recommends Dawn Platinum for its degreasing abilities.
  5. Let the racks soak overnight.
  6. In the morning, use a stainless steel scrubber (Wilkinson likes Scotch Brite’s version) to remove any leftover grime.
  7. Rinse the racks thoroughly.
  8. Dry them, and put them back in the oven.

If you decide to clean your oven racks with a commercial cleaner, make sure to take them outside so you don’t inhale the fumes. Also, follow the cleaning instructions on the packaging.

How to clean a glass oven door

Woman cleaning ovenJevtic/Getty Images

Since the oven door often catches many drips and spills, it can start looking unsightly pretty quickly. But since it’s not made of the same material as the oven, it needs a different method of attack. This is Wilkinson’s favorite way to clean a glass oven door to get it spotless.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Paper towels or dish cloths
  • Bucket
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Hot water
  • Dish soap
  • Nonabrasive sponge
  • Oven-safe degreaser


  1. Open your oven door all the way and use a damp paper towel or damp dish cloth to remove loose debris from it.
  2. In a bucket, combine about 1/2 gallon of hot water and 1/2 cup of dish soap (such as Dawn Platinum), and soak a few microfiber cloths in the solution.
  3. Place the cloths on the door so they cover the glass completely, and let them sit for five minutes.
  4. Remove the cloths, and use a nonabrasive sponge (such as a Scotch Brite Blue Sponge) to scrub the glass.
  5. If you have any caked-on food or tough stains that require a deeper clean, spray the surface (wet or dry) with a degreaser like Quik ‘n Brite. Let the product sit for at least five minutes.
  6. Use the sponge to loosen any caked-on food or grease.
  7. Once those spots have been removed, wipe the glass with a damp dish cloth.
  8. Dry with another clean cloth.

How to clean oven knobs and buttons

oven and Stove panel controlEasyBuy4u/Getty Images

“People often overlook this spot, but when we deep-clean someone’s home and pull the knobs off, they are usually full of grease and food,” Wilkinson says. “If the client is home, they are mortified, and many say they didn’t realize they could even pull off the knobs!” But, she adds, this is essential, especially on a gas stove, since you don’t want grease to build up and potentially cause a fire.

If your stove’s knobs are removable, here’s how to clean them properly, according to Wilkinson.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Hot water
  • Dish soap
  • Nonabrasive sponge
  • Dish cloth


  1. Remove the knobs from the stove. Be as gentle as possible so you don’t accidentally damage the knob’s metal fillings, which grip the mechanism that turns on the stove.
  2. Fill a bucket with hot water, and add 1/2 cup of dish soap, ideally Dawn Platinum.
  3. Add the knobs, and let them soak for 15 minutes.
  4. Use a nonabrasive sponge (like Scotch Brite Blue) to remove any buildup from the knobs.
  5. Rinse the knobs.
  6. Dry them thoroughly with a cloth.
  7. Put the knobs back in their original places.

If your knobs aren’t removable, here’s what to do. FYI, the same process can be used for your stove’s buttons.

  1. Dampen a clean dish cloth with warm water and dish soap.
  2. Lightly wipe the buttons and knobs, making sure not to let too much water seep into them.
  3. Use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to dry the knobs and buttons.

Things you shouldn’t use to clean your oven

While bleach can be used to disinfect surfaces, it’s better to use cleaners that are specifically tough on grease and grime when cleaning the oven. In fact, Pallares doesn’t recommend using bleach to clean your oven—ever. “Bleach will discolor the coat on the inside of your oven,” he explains. You also don’t want your food to smell like bleach, or be in close proximity to a chemical that is toxic if ingested, he adds.

You also shouldn’t use anything abrasive to clean an oven because it could scratch the surface. Steel wool and wire brushes are both no-nos.

How to keep your oven clean

In addition to putting this task on your regular cleaning schedule, the key to keeping your oven clean is to be proactive and attentive. Avoid putting food directly on the oven racks, and use foil or a sheet pan beneath anything you’re cooking that is prone to dripping so you can catch splatters before they get on the oven. Also be careful when taking things out of the oven to avoid spills and splashes.

If you see crumbs on the bottom of your oven, clean them out as quickly as possible so they don’t burn. The same goes if you see grease and grime building up anywhere.


What is the best cleaner for removing baked-on grease?

The “best” cleaner really depends on personal preferences. Pallares recommends Big Punch, while Wilkinson likes Dawn Platinum and Whip It for various oven-cleaning tasks. And if you want to go all-natural, opt for baking soda or vinegar.

Can I use a Brillo pad to clean the inside of an oven?

No. A Brillo pad or other stainless steel scrubbing pad can scratch the interior of your oven. You can use it on oven racks, but in general, you should use a nonabrasive sponge or cotton or microfiber cloth to clean the inside of your oven.

How long should you wait to use your oven after cleaning?

If you have cleaned your oven correctly using products specifically formulated for that purpose, or natural products such as baking soda or vinegar, it is safe to use immediately after cleaning.

Additional reporting by Kelly Kuehn. 

Why trust us

At Reader’s Digest, we’re committed to producing high-quality content by writers with expertise and experience in their field in consultation with relevant, qualified experts. For this piece, Jill Waldbieser tapped her experience as a cleaning, home and health writer, and then Ann Russell, TikTok’s “cleaning auntie” and the author of How to Clean Everything, gave it a rigorous review to ensure that all information is accurate and offers the best possible advice to readers. We also relied on reputable primary sources, including Rochelle Wilkinson, owner of Dirt Detective Cleaning, and Johnny Pallares, owner of the family-run De La Rosa House Cleaning in Phoenix. We verified all facts and data and backed them with credible sourcing, and we will revisit them over time to ensure they remain accurate and up to date. Read more about our team, our contributors and our editorial policies.