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How to Clean an Oven

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Deciding How to Clean An Oven
Someone opening a stainless steel oven door.

If your freestanding or wall oven is a newer model, it probably has a self-cleaning feature. A self-cleaning oven uses extremely high heat to incinerate baked-on grease residue and food spills. There are also some appliances that offer a steam cleaning feature where hot steam is used to dissolve oven grime, so you can easily wipe it off with a sponge. 

If your oven doesn’t come with a self-cleaning feature, or you’d rather not have the heat, smoke or smell, you can opt to get a brilliant shine using a little muscle and a store-bought or DIY oven cleaning solution.

Tip: Always follow your appliance’s manual recommendations about using oven cleaners or other chemicals, especially if it is a self-cleaning oven.

Turn on the Self-Cleaning Feature
Someone pressing an oven control panel.

If you choose to go with the quick-and-easy self-cleaning method that turns your oven grime to ash with high heat, there’s a few things you need to do first. Your oven will heat to temperatures you’d never use for cooking, so take everything out of it. Remove any pans and pull up any foil that you may have laid down on the oven’s bottom to catch spills. 

You should also remove the racks to prevent them from possibly warping or losing their finish. See how to wash them separately in Step 6 below. 

Lock the oven door and set your oven’s self-cleaning feature. Self-cleaning your oven can take up to four hours. Consult the manufacturer’s manual for exact times and procedures so you can plan accordingly.

Tip: Your appliance is designed to handle the extreme temperatures of self-cleaning but make sure to keep children or pets away from it to avoid possible injuries.

Clean the Interior of the Oven
Someone sweeping out the interior of a self-cleaning oven.

While your oven is cleaning, you may notice a strong odor or burning smell. This is perfectly normal. Open a window to air the room out. 

The oven will automatically shut off when the self-cleaning cycle ends and it may take another hour or so for it to cool down enough to release its door lock. Afterwards, sweep up the leftover ash and wipe down the oven's interior with a damp sponge or cloth.

Tip: Some baked on food may remain in a self-cleaning oven. You can remove it by using an oven cleaner or a DIY cleaning solution of baking soda and vinegar. 

Try a DIY Oven Cleaner for Tough Grease & Grime
A glass jar of baking soda sitting next to other cleaning supplies.

Baked-on grease and grime can be tough to get out of an oven, even those with a self-cleaning feature. If you need more cleaning power or don’t have a self-cleaning appliance, here’s how to clean an oven using three common kitchen ingredients: baking soda, water and vinegar. 

  • Mix about 1/2 cup of baking soda with just enough water to make a spreadable paste. Add a little warm water at a time to the baking soda until you get the right consistency. You may have to make more paste depending on the size of your oven.  
  • Apply the paste inside the oven using a regular paintbrush. Make sure it’s a new or very clean paint brush to avoid getting paint in your oven. 
  • Pour equal parts vinegar and water into a spray bottle and apply inside your oven. The vinegar will cause the baking soda to foam and dissolve the grime. Spray thick or stubborn stains especially well.  
  • Let the baking soda and vinegar foam sit in your oven or on stubborn spots for at least 12 hours before you wipe your oven out with a clean cloth and clear water. Overnight is best. Repeat if necessary.
Clean Inside Oven Door
Someone cleaning inside oven door with a scrub brush.

There are two ways to clean your oven's interior door. 

  • Coat the window with all-purpose cleaner or a store-bought oven spray cleaner. Consult your appliance's manual before using oven cleaner or other harsh chemicals inside your oven. Follow the package directions concerning how long to let the cleaner sit. Wipe and rinse thoroughly with a damp cloth or sponge. 
  • Use the DIY oven cleaning solution in Step 4, let it sit on the door and then scrub it off with a soft brush and a little dish soap. Rinse with a damp cloth or sponge.

Tip: Carefully scrape away pesky burn marks and food debris with a razor blade. 

Clean Oven Racks
Someone cleaning oven racks in a sink.

Soak your oven racks in hot water and a grease-fighting dish soap. It will help loosen the greasy residue and make them easier to clean. Scrub them with a scouring pad or heavy duty sponge.

If your racks are made of stainless steel you can apply the baking soda paste to deal with stubborn spots.  Baking soda can interact negatively with aluminum, so do not use it if your racks are made of that metal. Once your racks are clean, slide them back into the oven.

Tip: Cleaning your oven is a great time to deep clean the broiler pan that came with it. Soak it in the same soapy solution and scrub it also.

Clean and Polish the Oven Door
Someone cleaning an oven door.

Besides the usual spills and splatters from everyday cooking, the outside of your oven door can be covered in a layer of greasy residue. Wash it using a soft cloth and hot, soapy water. Rinse well. Polish with a paper towel and a spritz of glass cleaner. Add real shine to your stainless steel appliance with a stainless steel cleaner specially made for its finish.

Maintenance & Oven Cleaning Tips
Someone pulling a pan of roasted vegetables from oven.

How often you deep clean your oven depends on how often you use it. If you or your family enjoy cooking a lot, give your oven a deep clean every 3 months or so. If you rarely cook a big meal outside of a major holiday, then deep cleaning your oven twice a year is more than adequate. 

However, even a little build-up and burnt food in your oven can affect the taste of your food. Plan on doing a light clean to your oven once a month to prevent build-up and hard to remove baked-on residue. There are several ways to do a light clean and none of them take a lot of time. 

  • Apply the baking soda and water paste from Step 4, wait an hour or so, then wipe it off.
  • Try spraying your oven with a mixture of lemon juice and water. The acid in lemons can cut through grease and make it easier to clean off. Use a scrub brush to remove any leftover grime and rinse your oven well with clear water.
  • Make your own steam-cleaning oven. Fill an oven-proof pan half-way with 2/3 water and 1/3 white vinegar. Place it in the middle of the rack. Set your oven temperature somewhere between 300 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You want it hot enough to heat the water and create steam, but you don’t want it so hot that the water boils away too quickly. Leave your pan in the oven for about 30 minutes or until all the water evaporates, whichever comes first. When the oven cools, wipe it out with a damp sponge. Repeat if necessary.

Now that you know how to clean an oven, you can keep your kitchen’s centerpiece appliance performing well and looking brand new. Whether you need the tools to do the job or are ready to get a new oven, you’ll find everything you need at The Home Depot and deliver over a million online items free.