7 Oven-Cleaning Hacks That Don’t Involve Any Harsh Chemicals
Cleaning pros share their favorite oven-cleaning tricks that make the job so much easier.
Cleaning your oven can feel like a herculean task. Whether you bake occasionally or make large meals every night, it’s unrealistic to keep the oven perfectly clean all of the time. Sure, you do your best to clean up small messes as they happen, but ovens need a really deep and thorough cleaning periodically (cue the sighs). To keep the task from becoming too overwhelming, here are some of the best oven-cleaning hacks to rid your gas or electric range of built-up dirt and grease—or even just a simple spill.
If your oven is dirty and you don’t have a bottle of oven cleaner on hand, or simply prefer an entirely natural solution, try using a combination of vinegar and baking soda. Sean Parry of Neat Services suggests mixing one-half cup of baking soda with water to create a paste. “Next, spread the paste all over the bottom of the oven, the side walls, and the inside of the glass oven door, but avoid the heating elements,” he says.
Leave the mixture on for a minimum of two hours, but note it's also a great way to clean an oven overnight. Then take a spray bottle, fill it half with water and half with white vinegar and spray it all over the baking soda. “The acid in the vinegar will then react with the baking soda, causing it to foam. This action helps to remove the burnt-on food stains from the oven,” he says.
After leaving that on for another 30 minutes, use a rubber spatula (if necessary) and rag to remove the baking soda mixture. Finish by wiping everything down with a damp cloth.
According to Nathan Ripley of Maid Just Right, using salt is a quick, cheap, and easy way to clean an oven. “While you're baking, sometimes there might be leaks from the food you're preparing on the surface of the oven,” he says. “In that case, quickly open the oven and sprinkle some salt on the leak. After the oven has cooled, you'll have an easier time removing that stain than you would have otherwise.”
Los Angeles interior designer John Linden likes to steam clean using hot water and vinegar for an easy oven-cleaning hack. “They absorb into the grime and soften it, making it much easier to clean away with a cloth,” he says.
Start by boiling one-third of a pot of water on the stove. “Once it starts boiling, add an equal amount of white vinegar. Allow it to boil for another 30 seconds or so,” Linden says.
Next, remove the pot from the stove, place it inside the oven on the rack, and close the oven door. Don’t turn the oven on but allow the pot to sit for 45 to 60 minutes. “Once you open the door, you can start cleaning. Wipe the surface down with a soapy cloth,” Linden says. “The grime comes off much easier than it would if you simply tried to scrub it.”
According to Cyrus Bedwyr, an oven-cleaning expert for Fantastic Services, a little bit of water and two lemons is all you need to get your oven clean. “Grab a pan, fill it with water, and add the juice of two lemons. You can also add the lemon halves in the pan,” he says.
Then put the pan in the oven and turn it on. “Make sure you let the water boil before you take the pan out. The steam will loosen the grime and grease inside your oven and will help you remove it more easily.” Be sure to let the oven cool before wiping it down with a damp cloth.
Many of us use an old toothbrush to clean the bathroom, but it’s also useful for kitchens. “All those hard-to-reach areas and corners in your oven are difficult to clean,” Bedwyr says. “Yet you can easily manage this issue using an old toothbrush. Just dip the toothbrush in any cleaning solution and you will be amazed at how easy cleaning those corners will be.”
The awkward size and shape of oven racks means that they're often neglected when it comes to cleaning. Parry finds that the best approach is to soak racks in the bathtub.
Before you start the process, he suggests lining the tub with old towels so it doesn’t get scratched. Then fill the tub with water and drop in a dishwasher tablet. “Dishwasher tablets do a great job cleaning your dishes, so there's no reason they shouldn't do an equally good job with your oven racks,” Parry says.
Put the racks in and make sure they're fully submerged. Leave them for a couple of hours, or ideally, overnight. “After soaking, use the old toothbrush (or a heavy-duty scrubber if required) to remove any stuck-on food debris,” he says. “Remove the racks from the bath. Run them under warm water to rinse off and then dry with a clean kitchen cloth. You're then good to go.”
Don’t forget to clean the bathtub when you’re finished!
No matter what method you choose to clean your oven, start by vacuuming out the dirt, dust, crumbs, and debris. (You should also vacuum after running the self-cleaning cycle.) You can use the vacuum hose, or if that feels too powerful, try the crevice attachment. The Bissell CleanView Vacuum ($75; target.com) is useful for this because it’s compact and lightweight. Even better, it has built-in storage for cleaning tools, making it easy to swap between the crevice tool and hose.
If an upright vacuum feels too cumbersome or if you have a rather narrow kitchen, a handheld vacuum, like the Shark Wandvac ($110; amazon.com), might be easier to use.