How to Properly Clean an Oven

person cleaning an oven

The Spruce / Ana Cadena  

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 1 - 10 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

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—and we've got the best method.

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.


If a casserole or pie boils over in the oven, quickly sprinkle the mess with a liberal amount of salt while it is still liquid. Once the oven has cooled, use a spatula to lift away the salty mess. It will be much easier to clean than a hard, baked-on stain.

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 Fahrenheit 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.

The best way to clean an oven for you will depend on that kind of ingredients you'd like to use, and how dirty your oven is to start. If your oven is heavily soiled, a commercial cleaner is the most powerful option, as these cleaners are formulated to cut through grease and baked-on food quickly and with minimal scrubbing. If you're wary of the ingredients used in a commercial cleaner or if your oven isn't very dirty, you maybe be able to use natural ingredients, such as baking soda and vinegar, to clean it. This method may require more scrubbing and may not be able to remove old grease marks or residue, but some may pick baking soda and vinegar over commercial cleaners as the best way to clean an oven.


Be sure to read the manual for your self-cleaning oven before embarking on any cleaning project, as some manufacturers will void their warranty if commercial oven cleaner is used.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Protective gloves and safety glasses
  • Sponge or microfiber cloths
  • Melamine sponge (Mr. Clean Eraser)
  • Bucket or large tub
  • Small bowl
  • Paintbrush (optional)


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


materials for cleaning an oven
The Spruce / Ana Cadena  

How to Clean an Oven With a Commercial Oven Cleaner

When using commercial oven cleaner, you'll need to be careful. Misuse could lead to burning the surfaces of your kitchen. Oven cleaner can damage wood cabinets, wood floors, and etch stainless steel, so be careful of drips and overspray getting on any of these surfaces.

If your kitchen has wood flooring, we recommend adding a layer of a trash bags down before the layer of newspaper on the floor, just to make sure no drips absorb through the paper and get on the floor.

  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. Or, use a commercial cleaning kit like Carbona's Oven Rack & Grill Cleaner.

    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  
  6. Use a Pumice Stone for Burnt BIts

    For badly soiled ovens, use a pumice stone to scrape away burnt-on bits without scratching. As long as the oven surface is lubricated with water, the pumice will scrape away carbon deposits usually only removed with harsh chemicals.