No matter how careful you are, at some point, a meal will boil over onto the bottom of the oven. What can you do? You cannot stop and wipe up the spill given the risk of burning yourself, so you are forced to stand by and wait as the oven cools down. Meanwhile, the spill burns on. Once the oven cools, you can assess the damage and start to clean it up.
Know Your Oven Type
Before you can begin cleaning your oven, you need to figure out what type you have. You do not want to damage it by cleaning it improperly. Determine if your oven is a self-cleaning model, a textured model, or a traditional non-self-cleaning oven. You should always follow the manufacturer's instructions for maintaining your oven. And, if you do not have the manual, you can usually find the manual online by searching by model name.
Self-Cleaning Ovens Convection or Conventional
Run the self-cleaning cycle for your oven as often as you need to. It reduces nearly any spill to a powdery gray pile of ash that can easily be wiped away at the end of the oven's cleaning cycle. Just use a damp cloth like a microfiber cloth to remove the ashy residue.
Make sure you have a window open during the process to help keep smoke from sticking to the ceiling and walls. You may need to wash down the oven door and frame with a gentle dish soap to remove oil residue. Do not scrub the rubber gasket that seals the oven door; just rinse it with dish soap and then water. Do not use abrasives or oven cleaners on the interior of the oven.
For self-cleaning ovens, consider removing plastic knobs for the duration of the cycle to avoid warped or melted plastic knobs once the oven is finished cleaning itself. When in doubt, check your manual.
Textured ovens are sometimes called continuous cleaning ovens. They have a special surface that has a rough porcelain layer that is supposed to burn off food gradually as you continue to use your oven. To clean this type of oven, you only need to wipe down the inside with a damp cloth when your oven is cool. Never use abrasive cleaners, scouring pads, or oven cleaners.
Regular Non-Self-Cleaning Ovens
Each time the oven cools off, wipe up any spills with a hot, wet cloth. If you do this each time, food will not build up or burn onto the oven surfaces. Some people prefer to cover the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil, but you'll need to make sure that no vents are blocked if you choose this prevention trick. For really stubborn stains or buildup, you will need an oven cleaner and a plastic scrubbing pad or brush. Make sure you use good ventilation when using an oven cleaner. You can also use baking soda on regular non-self-cleaning ovens as a gentle abrasive that also soaks up grease and oily stains.
Steam-Cleaning Oven Models
If your oven has a steam cleaning mode, this is a great option to clean the interior. Check your manufacturer's instructions for specifics, but generally, you will need to pour a cup or so of water into the bottom of the oven before running the steam cleaning mode. The oven cycle lasts around 30 minutes and creates steam out of the water which loosens the food residue inside the oven. When the cycle ends, you can wipe out the leftover moisture and any food residue with a clean cloth.