How to Steam Clean an Oven in 5 Steps

Front view of a cast iron pot steaming inside of an oven

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 30 mins - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5-10

There are multiple ways to clean an oven. You can use the self-cleaning feature if your oven has one, by simply turning a dial or pressing a button. The downside, you are locked out of the oven for several hours and you may end up with your entire home smelling a bit smoky. You can use a commercial oven cleaner or create a cleaning solution with baking soda and vinegar.

Or you can use a technique that has long been used to clean a microwave oven, and steam clean your oven.

How Often to Steam Clean Your Oven

Your cooking habits will determine the frequency of your oven steam cleaning routine. Spills and overflows should be wiped away as soon as possible. If you use your oven frequently, it will need to be cleaned at least four times a year or when you encounter one of these situations:

  • The glass door is splattered with grease or grime.
  • The bottom of the oven has burned on food.
  • A burning or greasy odor fills the kitchen when the oven is turned on.
  • Smoke appears when the oven is turned on.

Before You Begin

While steam cleaning an oven is very simple and helps loosen grease and grime, you will still need to wipe the oven clean. Steam cleaning will produce the best results if the oven is only slightly dirty. A neglected oven requires additional cleaning with commercial or homemade cleaning products.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 large, ovenproof bowl
  • 1 to 2 microfiber cloths or sponges
  • 1 pair protective gloves
  • 1 pair protective eyewear
  • 1 plastic bowl or bucket
  • 1 small mixing bowl
  • 1 bathtub

Materials

  • Water
  • 1 container commerical oven cleaner
  • 1 box baking soda
  • 1 bottle distilled white vinegar
  • 1 to 2 heavy-duty garbage bags

Instructions

Materials needed to steam clean an oven

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

How to Steam Clean an Oven

  1. Select and Fill a Container

    Choose a large, oven-proof bowl or baking dish that holds at least two quarts of water. Fill the container with cool water. Avoid using Pyrex or glass, given the high temperatures involved.

    Tip

    If you are a bit clumsy and prone to spilling, place the container on the oven rack first. Then use a pitcher or teapot to add the water.

    Filling a container to use for oven steam cleaning

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Set the Oven Temperature

    Be sure the oven is empty except for the container. Close the oven door with the water-filled bowl inside. Set the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

    Setting the oven temperature

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Set the Oven Timer

    Depending on the level of soil in your oven, set the oven timer for 30 to 60 minutes. The heavier the grime, the longer the container should remain in the oven.

    Setting the oven timer

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Let the Oven Cool

    Once the oven is turned off, leave the door closed until the oven has cooled completely. This allows the steam that has accumulated in the oven to loosen the grime. It is also a safety precaution so you will not be handling a bowl of scalding hot water.

    Letting the oven cool down

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  5. Wipe Out the Grime

    When the oven is cool, open the door and remove the container. Use a damp sponge or microfiber cloth to wipe away the grime. Rinse the cloth often to prevent transferring the soil back onto oven surfaces.

    If the oven is not sufficiently clean, use one of the traditional oven cleaning methods to complete the job.

    Wiping the grime out of the oven

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

How to Remove Tough Oven Grime

  1. Use a Commercial Oven Cleaner

    Follow the directions on the product label and coat the interior of the oven 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. Make sure the kitchen is well-ventilated by turning on the fan in the stove hood.

    Since some cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can irritate skin and cause eye damage, wear gloves and protect your eyes with safety glasses.

    Spraying oven cleaner inside the oven

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Use a Baking Soda Paste

    In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of baking soda with about two tablespoons of water to create a spreadable paste. Wearing gloves, use your hands or a sponge 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.

    When the paste has had time to work, wipe down all of the surfaces with a damp sponge or cloth.

    Smearing a baking soda paste inside of the oven

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Clean the Oven Racks

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

    Rinse and wipe clean before returning them to the oven.

    Cleaning oven racks in the tub

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Tips to Keep Your Oven Clean When Using Steam Cleaning

  • Wipe up spills as soon as the oven is cool enough to clean safely.
  • Clean the oven before soil levels are heavy. It is nearly impossible for steam cleaning alone to remove thick layers of burnt-on food.
  • Be sure the oven is empty of additional bakeware, oven liners, or utensils during the steam cleaning.