3 Easy Ways to Put a Little Lovin’ Into Cleaning Your Oven

Your oven is the star of the show when it comes to major celebrations. (Think Thanksgiving!) Roasting, baking, braising, broiling, even air frying – is there nothing this appliance can’t do? It can even clean itself (well…sort of. We’ll talk about that in a minute). 

As much as we love our ovens, they may get neglected when it comes to spring cleaning. Getting rid of all the built-up grease and grime can seem very intimidating. Tales of high-temperature self-cleaning, pink goo, and middle school science experiment ingredients might strike fear in even the most “seasoned” chef. 

But don’t worry! Our experts put together three quick ways you can get your oven squeaky clean.  

How to clean a self-cleaning oven

The first step is to make sure you know which type of self-cleaning oven you have. Is it high heat or steam clean? This could also be a trick question: Some newer models have both options. The majority of self-cleaning ovens use the high heat function, though.

We know what you’re thinking next-  how does a self-cleaning oven work? 

Cleaning with extreme heat

Much as the function suggests, it uses extremely high heat (typically over 900°F). This extreme heat burns off all the baked-on leftovers in your oven and essentially turns them into ash. Once the oven has cooled, you wipe away the ash. Since your oven needs to reach such high temperatures and then cool down, you can probably predict that the entire cycle will take a few hours.  

Most ovens have a safety feature which locks the door for the duration of the cycle and will turn off when complete. 

Cleaning with steam

If you have a steam cleaning oven, your oven will warm water (either from the bottom of the oven or in a well depending on your make and model) to create steam and break down the grease and grime. Since the oven’s temperature doesn’t get as high as extreme heat cleaning, this process usually takes less than an hour. 

Of course, you may need to add water to either the bottom of your oven or in a well, again depending on your make and model. Then press the steam clean function and wait about half an hour (or however long your cleaning cycle takes). 

Once cleaning is complete and your oven has completely cooled down, use a damp rag to wipe away any of the newly created ash. You can even use your vacuum cleaner if needed. 

Quick oven-cleaning preparation tips 

Before turning the self cleaning function on, you must take some precautions.

  • Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before starting. 
  • Choose the best cleaning option. The steam cleaning function on some ovens is best for smaller spills and stains because of its shorter cycle.
  • Make sure not to use cleaning products with self-cleaning ovens. 
  • A family member should stay in the home (in sight of the kitchen but not directly in it) while your oven self-cleans.
  • Always keep small animals and children away from the oven.
  • Sometimes you don’t need to remove the racks, but check your oven’s manual. 
  • You will need to remove all cookware from your oven, though, and any large particles of food that you can easily pick up and throw away.
  • Because the fumes during cleaning can be dangerous, especially to birds, ensure that you turn on your venting system, open windows, etc. 

How to clean your oven yourself

A person wearing a glove and cleaning the oil off the oven door
You can do it!

Double-check your warranty before cleaning your oven yourself. Some appliance warranties are voided if you do not use the self clean function. If your warranty is over or you don’t have a self cleaning option, here’s what you can do.  

#1 – Use a non-abrasive cleaner

Try a non-abrasive cleaner, such as the Pink Stuff or Bartender’s Friend. Before applying the cleaner, scrape up all the baked-on food that you can. Then follow package instructions and remove excess with a damp towel. 

#2 – Use baking soda and vinegar 

If you like to use cleaners that are a little more natural, look no further than your grade school science fair. All you need is baking soda and vinegar. Cleaning an oven with baking soda requires a few extra steps, but it’s an all-natural solution. 

  • Scrape up all the baked-on food that you can.
  • Make a paste using baking soda and water until you get the consistency of glue. 
  • Slather this paste over your oven and allow it to sit. It works best if you can let it sit overnight. 
  • Once the baking soda has done its job, spray some vinegar on the now brown baking soda and allow the chemical reaction to work its magic. 
  • Use a damp cloth to remove the baking soda solution. Repeat as necessary. 

#3 – Use a pumice stone 

A third option requires more elbow grease but will take possibly less time and less cleaner – the pumice stone. You probably have heard of using a pumice stone to remove calluses, and it works in the same way for your oven. 

First, spray a solution of dish soap and water and let your oven soak for a few minutes. Then, wet your pumice stone and get to scrubbing! 

But why should you clean your oven?

A homeowner peaking into an oven, which appears to be on fire
A dirty oven can be a dangerous oven.

Cleaning your oven, even when using the self-cleaning function, still seems like a lot of work, so you might be thinking, “Why do I even need to clean my oven?” 

Number one – safety. According to the National Fire Protection Association, built-up grease and leftover food can cause a fire. That same buildup of grease can also shorten the lifespan of your oven. 

Number two – to save money. On top of the shortened lifespan – which means you’ll need to buy a new oven sooner – a dirty oven takes longer to cook your food. This will make your utility bills go up. (A dirtier oven is also harder to clean, so you’ll lose more time as well.)

Number three – food quality. Does your family think your cooking skills are questionable? Well, you might be a better chef than they think. Everything left in your oven has a way of releasing flavor into the current delicacy being prepared, so cleaning your oven may actually help your culinary reviews.  

Don’t forget to check to make sure your oven hasn’t been recalled for any reason. Learn how to handle recalled consumer products in your home from the Consumer Product Safety Commission! 

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