How to Clean your Oven {Safely}

Well, we have organized our cupboards, cleaned our microwaves and dish washers, and beautified our fridges. Now it is time for the last big task this month – cleaning the oven! 

How to Clean your oven safely.
Not only does this task tend to be one of the most dreaded cleaning tasks in the kitchen it can also be the most harmfulChemical oven cleaners are one of the most dangerous household chemicals on the market.  Oven cleaners that contain soduim hydroxide or potassium hydroxide {lye} are extremely corrosive and can be deadly if swallowed.  They can also cause chemical burns to the skin or damage your lungs if the fumes are inhaled.  Not really what I want to be using on my home…

Okay, so then there is the self-cleaning oven option that many of us have on our ovens.  Unfortunately, this can also be harmful to us and our pets {especially birds}.  Many self-cleaning ovens are lined with Teflon {or Teflon-like substances} which emit toxic gases when heated to high temperatures.  Oven temperatures will get up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit during the self-cleaning cycle releasing these fumes into our homes {as well as all of the grease fumes from the oven!}.  Most manuals will advise you to only clean your oven in well ventilated areas with the windows and doors open and to relocate birds and other small pets to other areas.
So the last option is to go the green cleaning route! 

How to Clean Your Oven
For the last few years I have been using the Norwex Oven and Grill Cleaner to clean my oven and have been quite happy with the results. It’s quick and easy to use and doesn’t involve a lot of “elbow grease” on my end. It is a water-based, all natural and biodegradable cleaner that is non-caustic.  There is still a smell associated with it when you first spray it so you do want to make sure you don’t inhale as you spray!

Lately, I have read a lot of positive feedback from cleaning the oven with baking soda and vinegar so I thought that I would give it a try this time around…

Here is the {not so pretty!} before picture of my oven.  

How to clean your oven safely.

  
For those of you following along on Facebook, remember when I told you how wonderful it smells to put a capful of vanilla in a coffee mug and pace it on a cookie sheet in the oven?  Well this is what happens if you do not have a cookie sheet and dump the vanilla when you are taking it out…
 

What you need to do:
  • Make a paste with baking soda and water.  I didn’t really use any measurements – just add some baking soda to a bowl and slowly mix in water until it makes a thick paste.
  • Remove the oven racks. If you have pots and pans {or other items!} in the bottom drawer, I would remove those as well, as the water/baking soda can end up dripping into there as well.
  • Spread the baking soda mixture over the entire oven, oven door, and glass.  I had read to leave it anywhere from 20-30 minutes to overnight.  I ended up leaving mine on for an hour but I would probably recommend longer if your oven looks anything like mine.
How to safely clean your oven.
  • Now the fun part – start scrubbing!  I used a Norwex Enviro cloth and had a big bucket nearby to rinse it in.  Things weren’t coming off quite as easily as I would have liked so I sprayed some water and vinegar on the baking soda and let it sit for about another 10 minutes {I think I just secretly like that fizzing sound that it makes!} 
  • Keep scrubbing and rinsing.  That baking soda residue can be a bit of a pain to take off!
  • I found that most messes came off fairly easily although there were definitely a few spots that required some muscle.  In the end there were also a few grease drips on the door that didn’t come off and the glass didn’t come out quite as clean as when I used the Norwex spray.  {If you really want a spotless oven you could just repeat the process again a second time in those spots that need a little extra attention but I’m not too picky when it comes to my oven}

How to clean your oven without harsh chemicals.

 And here is the after shot – not perfect but SOOO much better!


**EDIT: I have had a number of people mention about putting aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven to catch drips and spills.  Make sure you check your owner’s manual – this cannot be done with convection ovens!!**

Now while you are waiting for your baking soda mixture to sit and do its thing, there are a few other jobs that you need to do.  

Clean the hood 
First up, boil a pot of water so that the steam goes up and loosens up all of the grime on the stove hood.  You can even add some lemon juice if you like. 

How to safely clean your oven and stove top.
Here is one of my favorite tricks when boiling water.  Did you know that if you put a wooden spoon across the top of your pot, it will not boil over?  I have no idea why this works but it totally does and has saved me from lots of stove top messes!

Now that the hood is all moist from the steam, give it a good wipe down with a microfiber cloth.  {I then shined it all up with my window cloth} Wipe down the wall behind the oven as well using warm water and some dish soap. 

Clean the Oven Racks
This is actually my least favorite part of cleaning the oven.  I filled a bowl with some dish soap, wet a microfiber cloth, and ran it along each of the rungs on the rack.  I also mixed up a little paste of cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide to use on the extra burned on, dingy areas.  It didn’t really seem to do any better a job than the baking soda paste that I had used before but maybe I just didn’t have enough patience with scrubbing.

Clean the Stove Top
We have a glass top stove and I have tried a ton of different products to clean it.  I pretty much hate cooking with the stove light on as all of the little marks drive me crazy!  The best thing that I have found is a combination of the Norwex Micropad and Window Cloth.  This is one place that I do not like to use baking soda as the residue seems to take forever to get off.  If you want to get really fancy, you can also pull out the oven from the wall and clean behind it!  So, do you have any great tricks for cleaning the oven or stove?  Leave your ideas in the comments below – I would love to hear them!  

The Household Organization Diet - A year long easy to follow plan to help you get {and stay!} organized!
{This post is part of my Household Organization Diet series.  You can join in anytime – just start with these two posts here and here.  The 2014 Kitchen To Do list can be found HERE.  If you are looking for past projects, you can find them all on my Pinterest board.  }.


 
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Comments

  1. says

    Wow, well, I wasn’t planning on cleaning my oven today, but you just may have convinced me! :) You would be disgusted to hear how long it’s been since my oven was cleaned! Thank you for the helpful tips and the non chemical cleaners. It’s extremely useful! Jennifer

  2. says

    I do the vanilla smell on my stove top. In a small pot mix vanilla and water and boil it! Just be careful to not boil the pot dry. I usually set a timer so I go back and check it!

    What are we cleaning next month?? We should have a whole month for windows… my least favorite thing to try to clean.

  3. says

    Holy Cow – 100 times better. I hope to get mine cleaned this weekend – maybe it will sparkle again. I got two more cupboards cleaned out yesterday and only 2 more to go. I’ve been working on a few each day. It’s been nice to focus on the kitchen this month.

  4. says

    Any ideas on how to clean the inside of the oven door window? I spilled some liquid on the door putting something in the oven and it leaked into the window part. :(

  5. says

    Laurie and others: I found out the heard way about putting aluminum foil in the bottom of my oven. My mom ALWAYS did this. The newer ovens post on the bottom of the oven just inside of the oven door NOT to use aluminum foil. Our carbon monoxide detector kept going off. We purchased a new one, had the heating company out, then call Alliant Engery. They disconnected my stove. After calling a repairman, he showed me the message on the oven. (Hard to see). Boy was I embarrassed! I don’t know if it the the newer ovens, or change in how aluminum foil is made.

  6. says

    i also have a glass top range and i wipe down the top of the range (after it cools down or i leave to before i am gonna use it) with a vinegar soultion. i use a 1:1 vinegar to water and i add a little tiny bit of dish soap to a spray bottle. spray the cook top wipe with paper towels. i have a ceramic cook top cleaner that i use for any stuck on stuff and shiny spots from pans.

  7. says

    I have the same oven. Unfortunately, the day I got it, I put tinfoil down to catch drips as someone suggested above. When there is no exposed element, do not do this!!! The tinfoil melted to the bottom the black stain is permanent:( I wish I had read the manual before using the oven. I follow a few blogs, but this is the first time I found one from someone in my home province:) I am a new follower.

  8. says

    I just bought my first house & it has a glass cooktop. Found the best way to clean is to once you have a mess bigger than soap and water can handle, once the top is cool, wash it with soap & water – leaving the suds, sprinkle baking soda on it, and cover with wet cloths. Let it sit, and then after a 1/2 hour or so, clean it off – beautiful and looks new!!!!

  9. says

    My husband died in 1983 – I cleaned it once in 1984 and ended up in the hospital from the fumes of the oven cleaner. In 1985 I tried the baking soda paste followed by the vinegar water spray. I did it once a day for 30 days and did not notice anything but a ruined manicure and dry scaly skin on my hands. Oven is still dirty.

  10. says

    Purdy might not like this, then again they might lol. The 5 in 1 tool that many DIYers already have comes in handy for cleaning the oven racks. It even removes dried on baked on grease with very little effort. While living in Germany I found this neat little razor blade like tool on a handle that they used to clean their glass cooktops & when I couldn’t find mine I just pulled out a brand new 5 in 1 tool & used it very gently.

  11. says

    Work in a cafeteria baking. We put a pan of ammonia in the bottom the night before. A warm oven works best. Let sit and next day take out and wipe down. What ever is left use baking soda and vinegar. This will clean the racks too.

  12. says

    The ammonia works well. While you are cleaning the oven, put the racks in the bathtub. Add some cleaner (I like Spic & Span or dish soap) Cover with steaming water. When you are finished with the oven, go over the racks with a nylon scrunge and most of the crud will come off.

  13. says

    Great info – I’m not a massive fan of those toxic chemicals you can buy – using baking soda seems to be a pretty popular choice these days! I admittedly did resort to professional oven cleaner kent or oven cleaner birmingham based companies to do mine when it got bad until I read posts like this, so thank you! But I actually have a tip that I found really helped: EVERY time you use the cooker, just give it a quick wipe over, inside and out. I found a sponge (just water, nothing else) as the oven was cooling down to remove the spillages and grease from that cook really helped stop the build up and I don’t reach that horrible black, baked on stage any more! Thanks for the advice.

  14. says

    It’s funny really – you spend your whole life buying chemical cleaners because that’s just “what you do” and then you read posts like this and everything changes… the simple things can be so good sometimes!

    Just wanted to say thanks – I’ve been doing my best to be far more frugal recently. The birth of my 2nd wasn’t half as scary as the first… I feel like I can be a good housewife as well as mamma – fingers crossed! One of the things I used to do was use professional oven cleaners. I can’t say a bad word about them to be honest, at my various houses over the years I’ve had them in every few months. I’d been using oven cleaner solihull and I don’t mind recommending them, however I am ashamed to say that it’s only been recently that I even knew what the word frugal meant! So thanks again for posts like this to help me on my way to being a better stay at home mamma :) x

  15. Margaret Minor says

    If the stains (food) isn’t too “baked on” your glass top stove, Magic Eraser works good.

  16. Cathy sims says

    Love these hints. Have always used chemicals and self-cleaner. I ruined my door opener a couple of years ago with impatience and tried to open the door before it had cooled. Needless to say, the door lock is twisted and broken. So, back to manual labor. The soda works well and love the idea of once again having a clean, respectful oven.

  17. Navymommy says

    As the owner of an apartment clean out business, we deal with some horrendous ovens. We do use commercial cleaners. The best way we have found to clean racks is to get a 30 gallons trash bag and lemon ammonia. Put the racks in the bag, pour a cup of the ammonia in, close the bag tight and shake. Lay flat outside, in the sun is best, and let soak for a few hours. If severely crusted, overnight is best. Get a bucket of hot water and a metal, silver scouring pad from the dollar store and start scrubbing. The baked on bits should come right off. Spray down with the hose and voila! Clean, shiny racks.

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