How to Clean Your Oven Like a Pro

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Goodbye, dirty oven! Here's your go-to guide to how to clean an oven, featuring cleaning tips from pros, recipes for homemade cleaners, and more.

Make your oven sparkle with these pro cleaning tips

Cleaning household appliances isn’t just for neat freaks—it will actually help them run more smoothly and last longer.

For starters, bacteria can build up in the appliance, leaving it unsanitary. According to Johnny Pallares, owner of De La Rosa House Cleaning, it’s also important to clean your oven because a dirty oven may not run efficiently. “Old food can damage the heating coils on the bottom of your oven, making it harder to cook your food.” Frank Berger, CEO of You’ve Got Maids, also notes that grease left in your oven can catch fire if you’re not careful.

Knowing how to clean your oven properly—as well as how to clean your microwave and how to clean your stove top—is crucial if you want these appliances to last longer and work better. Not sure where to start? Here’s a guide to how to clean your oven, which parts to clean, how to clean them, and the best oven cleaners to use.

How to clean the inside of an oven

Let’s start with the basics: How to clean the space that gets the most grime. Here are the steps to take to get your oven looking good as new:

  1. Make sure your oven is turned off and cool enough to touch.
  2. Remove the oven racks (you’ll clean them separately).
  3. Wipe the inside of your oven with a paper towel or dish cloth to remove loose debris.
  4. Apply a cleaning solution to the inside of your oven. How long you let it sit depends on the type of cleaner you use; if you’re using a commercial cleaner, refer to the instructions on the packaging.
  5. Wipe the solution away with microfiber cloths after you let it sit. If leftover buildup remains, repeat the process until it’s gone.
  6. Replace the oven racks after you’ve cleaned them.

Can you use the oven self-cleaner option?

Yes, you can use the self-cleaner option on your oven if you don’t want to wash it by hand. Typically, there are two types of self-cleaning ovens: Pyrolytic and Catalytic. Let’s go into what each of these options are and how they help keep your oven clean.

Pyrolytic oven cleaning

Pyrolytic cleaning involves heating the oven to a temperature hotter than 750ºF so the food debris burns to dust for easy cleanup.

Pros:

  • Provides a deep clean
  • Easy to program

Cons:

  • Takes a few hours to complete
  • Pyrolytic ovens may be more expensive

Catalytic oven cleaning

Catalytic cleaning, on the other hand, occurs in an oven that has catalytic liners along the sides that absorb and break down grease and grime. Because it has these liners, the oven essentially cleans itself whenever you cook something at 392ºF or above.

Pros:

  • Faster than Pyrolytic cleaning, usually taking between 15 and 30 minutes to complete
  • Easy to program

Cons:

  • Often doesn’t provide as deep of a clean as Pyrolytic cleaning, so you may need to do additional cleaning

Each self-cleaning option has pros and cons, so it’s important to know if you have a Pyrolytic or Catalytic oven before you self-clean so you know what to expect. No matter which option you have, Berger recommends doing the following when using the self-cleaning option:

  • Empty the oven cooking chamber to reduce the possibility of fire.
  • Remove grates, food debris, and any leftover pieces of tinfoil from the oven.
  • Once your self-cleaning oven cools down, be prepared to wipe out the residue with a cleaning cloth to make the oven shine.

It’s also important to note that if you decide to manually clean a self-cleaning oven, you shouldn’t clean it with a commercial cleaner, as you could damage the interior and hinder its effectiveness.

Can you steam-clean an oven?

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

  1. Pour one cup of water into the bottom of an oven that’s cool.
  2. Select the “steam clean” option.
  3. Let the cycle run (it typically lasts around 30 minutes, but it could range depending on the make and model of the oven).
  4. After the cycle finishes and the oven is cool, wipe the oven clean.

How to clean an oven with store-bought oven cleaner

Easy Off Being Sprayed In OvenTMB Studio

Sometimes, you need a powerful cleaner to remove heavy duty muck and grime. Here’s what to do if you’re using a store-bought oven cleaner and what to keep in mind as you’re scrubbing.

  1. Make sure your oven is turned off and cool enough to touch.
  2. Remove the oven racks (you’ll clean them separately).
  3. Wipe the inside of your oven with a paper towel or dish cloth to get rid of loose debris.
  4. 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.
  5. Wipe the solution away after the recommended time.
  6. Replace the oven racks after you’ve cleaned them.

Tips for using store-bought cleaners

  • Don’t repeat the cleaning process too much in one setting, as heavy duty commercial cleaner could damage the oven’s interior.
  • Open your windows to ensure proper ventilation.
  • Wear a mask, safety glasses, and cleaning gloves if you’re using a cleaner with strong chemicals and fumes.

If you’re at the store shopping for a commercial oven cleaner, Pallares has a recommendation: “We use an oven cleaner product called Big Punch. It’s an instant active oven and grill grease remover. 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.

Berger says Easy-Off is a popular store-bought oven cleaner you can use, too. However, it’s especially important to make sure the oven is off before you use it. Berger also urges people not to inhale the fumes. If you need to stock up on more cleaning products, here are some of the most trusted cleaning products in America.

How to clean an oven with DIY cleaner

cleaning oven with baking soda pasteTMB Studio

If you don’t want to use commercial oven cleaners, you can always create natural oven cleaners with common household items. Berger has two natural oven-cleaning solutions you can make easily.

The first homemade cleaning solution involves baking soda:

  1. Mix a half cup of baking soda with just enough water to create a paste.
  2. Spread the paste inside your empty and cool oven.
  3. Let it sit overnight and wipe away in the morning.

The perk of cleaning an oven with baking soda is that the baking soda naturally breaks down grease and grime. It’s a great non-toxic product that gets the job done, even if it takes a little longer.

The second homemade cleaning solution includes vinegar—Berger calls it “Grandma’s Green All-Purpose Cleaner”:

  1. Fill an empty spray bottle with a half cup of white distilled vinegar.
  2. Add two tablespoons of baking soda, and wait for the fizzing to stop.
  3. Add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil for a nice aroma.
  4. Fill the rest of the bottle with tap water, swirl to mix, and spray the inside of your oven.
  5. Let the spray sit for 10 minutes and wipe away. Repeat the process if there’s still debris in your oven.

By combining vinegar and baking soda, you create a natural chemical reaction that breaks down dirt and grease effectively. Berger says if you do use this spray, wipe it with either cotton cleaning cloths or paper towels. Don’t use microfiber cloths because this solution will ruin them. By the way, you can also clean a refrigerator with a vinegar cleaning solution.

How to clean oven racks

washing oven rack in the sinkTMB Studio

Believe it or not, soaking your oven racks in the bathtub is an effective way to remove all the gunk on them. Here’s what to do:

  1. Remove oven racks.
  2. Set oven racks in your bathtub.
  3. Sprinkle baking soda over the racks.
  4. Pour vinegar on the racks and let the combination fizz.
  5. After the fizzing stops, run hot water over the racks until they’re covered, and leave them in the tub overnight.
  6. In the morning, grab a cleaning brush with bristles to scrub off any leftover debris.
  7. Rinse the racks, dry them, and put them back in the oven.

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

How to clean oven door glass

Remember that baking soda paste mentioned above? You can use it to clean the glass on your oven door, too. Here’s what to do:

  1. Open your oven door all the way.
  2. Use a paper towel or damp dish cloth to remove loose debris.
  3. Cover the oven door glass with the baking soda paste.
  4. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Wipe the glass with a damp dish cloth.

How to clean oven knobs and buttons

If your stove’s knobs are removable, here’s what to do to clean them properly:

  1. Remove them from the stove.
  2. Soak the knobs in warm, soapy water.
  3. Rinse the knobs and dry them thoroughly.
  4. Put knobs back in their original place.

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

  1. Dampen a clean dish cloth with warm water and soap.
  2. Lightly clean the buttons and knobs, making sure not to let too much water seep onto them.

Things you shouldn’t use to clean your oven

Pallares doesn’t recommend using bleach to clean your oven. “Bleach will discolor the coat on the inside of your oven,” he explains. “You also don’t want your food to smell like bleach.” 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. Make sure you aren’t making these other bleach mistakes, either.

How often should you clean your oven?

Pallares recommends cleaning your oven every three months if you use it regularly. However, if you see excess food that’s fallen in your oven, clean it up as soon as the oven is cool. That way, the food won’t have a chance to burn the next time you cook. You can also use your judgment. If you’ve been cooking in your oven more often, or have been cooking messier meals, clean it as soon as you see grease and grime building up.

How to keep your oven clean

The key to keeping your oven clean is to be proactive and attentive. If you see crumbs on the bottom of your oven, clean them out as quickly as possible so they don’t burn. If you see grease and grime building up, clean your oven so it works properly and stays sanitary. Mark your calendar and add it to your cleaning schedule so you won’t forget.

Next, learn how clean a dishwasher and make it look brand new. Your kitchen (and dishes) will thank you later.

Sources:

baking sodaYelenaYemchuk/Getty Images

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Kelly Kuehn
Kelly Kuehn is an assistant editor for Reader’s Digest covering entertainment, trivia, and history. When she’s not writing you can find her watching the latest and greatest movies, listening to a true crime podcast (or two), blasting ‘90s music, and hiking with her dog, Ryker, throughout New England.