How to Clean an Oven

person cleaning an oven

The Spruce / Ana Cadena  

Since the inside of your oven is usually out-of-sight, it may also be out-of-mind until you're ready to use it and discover that it is pretty messy. Even then, you may just shrug and place that pan of luscious chocolate cake batter into a dirty oven. Later you wonder why the cake flavor is a bit off and tastes smokey or a bit charred. It's because your oven is dirty and odors and flavors transfer to the food.

It's time to clean the oven.

How Often to Clean the Oven

Your cleaning routine depends upon your cooking routine. Spills and overflows should be cleaned as soon as possible. If you use your oven daily, it will need to be cleaned at least seasonally or when you see one or more of these signs:

  • The door is splattered with grease or grime.
  • The bottom of the oven has crusty food or residue that looks burned.
  • A burning or greasy odor arises when the oven is turned on.
  • Smoke appears when the oven is turned on.

Before You Begin

If you have a self-cleaning oven, it is perfectly acceptable to use it if the oven is only slightly dirty. The self-cleaning feature locks your oven and takes it to a temperature of 550 degrees F. or higher. The excessive heat helps melt and burn away grease and grime. After around two hours, you are left with white ash in the bottom of the oven that you must clean away once the oven unlocks and is cool.

If your oven is very dirty with baked-on food, the self-cleaning feature will not work well. Too much grease and food residue can smoke and even catch fire. You should never leave home with the self-cleaning function engaged.

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Commercial oven cleaner
  • Baking soda
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Paper towels or newspapers
  • Large heavy-duty garbage bag

Tools

  • Protective gloves and safety glasses
  • Sponge or microfiber cloths
  • Melamine sponge (Mr. Clean Eraser)
  • Bucket or large tub
  • Small bowl
  • Paintbrush (optional)
materials for cleaning an oven
The Spruce / Ana Cadena  

How to Clean an Oven With a Commercial Oven Cleaner

  1. Empty the Oven

    Remove all the racks, thermometers, and any pizza stones or broiler pans you may store in the oven.

    removing an oven rack
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  2. Put on Protective Gear

    Many commercial cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can irritate skin and cause eye damage. Wear gloves and protect your eyes with safety glasses.

    Place paper towels or newspapers on the floor around the oven to catch any drips that could damage the flooring. Make sure the kitchen is well-ventilated by turning on the fan in the stove hood.

    person putting on protective gloves
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  3. Spray the Cleaner in the Oven

    Following the directions on the product label, spray the interior of the oven coating every surface including the door. Do not spray the cleaner on electric heating elements or gas vents. Close the door. Most cleaners take 20 to 30 minutes to work.

    spraying oven cleaner
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  4. Clean the Oven Racks

    If possible, take the oven racks outside and spray them with the cleaner. Make sure to spray both sides of the racks. Place each rack inside a heavy-duty garbage bag and close it tightly for 20 to 30 minutes.

    removing the oven racks and placing them in a trash bag
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  5. Wipe Down the Oven and Racks

    After the appropriate amount of time has passed, use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down all the surfaces in the interior of the oven and the racks. If food is still stuck to the surface, use a wet melamine eraser to scrub it away. You will need to rinse the sponge frequently in clean water as you work.

    scrubbing oven racks with a sponge
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  6. Reassemble the Oven

    Once everything is clean, place the racks back in the oven and it is ready to use.

    reassembling the oven
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  

How to Clean the Oven With Baking Soda and Vinegar

  1. Empty the Oven and Protect Surfaces

    Remove the oven racks and any items stored in the oven. Place paper towels or newspapers on the floor to catch any drips.

    removing items from the oven
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  2. Mix a Baking Soda Paste

    In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of baking soda with two tablespoons of water (use a more or less) to create a spreadable paste. You may need to mix a second batch if your oven is quite large.

    making a baking soda paste
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  3. Spread on the Paste

    Wearing gloves, use your hands or an old paintbrush to spread the paste on every surface in the oven, including the door, except for electrical heating elements and gas vents. Close the door and allow the paste to sit for eight to 10 hours.

    spreading baking soda paste in the oven
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  4. Treat the Racks

    Place the racks in your sink or bathtub and spray with distilled white vinegar. Sprinkle on dry baking soda and watch the foaming action! When the foaming stops, fill the tub with hot water until the racks are fully submerged. Allow them to soak for eight to 10 hours.

    spraying down oven racks with vinegar
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  
  5. Clean the Oven and Racks

    Open the oven and wipe down all of the surfaces with a damp sponge or cloth. Scrub away stuck-on food with a melamine sponge or spray with a bit of vinegar and add some dry baking soda. The foaming action will help loosen the mess making it easier to wipe away.

    Remove the racks from the soaking water and wipe with a sponge to remove grime on each side. Dry the racks and put them back in the oven.

    wiping down the oven
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena