3 Easy ways to deep clean your oven

It can feel daunting to clean an oven—it’s hot, spills get completely baked on, and typically we are trying not to reach our hands in there. Many of us avoid cleaning it, or don't know the best strategy, but it’s as easy as cleaning many other kitchen appliances.

cleaning the outside of an oven

Table of contents

How often to clean your ovenMethod #1: The self-clean featureMethod #2: Baking soda and vinegarMethod #3: Specialty oven-cleaning productsCleaning oven doors, knobs, and racks

The big job is cleaning the interior. Getting rid of food particles and spills is key here because that’s what burns and smokes while you cook your food, sometimes even imparting that burning flavor to your dish.

You have a few options for cleaning your oven:

  • Self-cleaning, if your oven has that feature

  • Cleaning with items you likely already have in your pantry

  • Using specialty oven cleaning products. 

The set it and forget it nature of the self-cleaning feature is the easiest method but all methods will do the job. Whichever method you choose, follow the steps for cleaning the oven door, knobs, and racks to finish your oven’s deep clean.

Note: Always make sure you are home for the entire duration of the self-cleaning process if you choose to use that method, and always avoid cleaning the heating elements of your oven.

How often to clean your oven

Like any appliance in your home, your oven will benefit from regular spot cleaning, and it will make deep cleaning much easier. How often to clean it depends on how much you cook. If you’re an avid baker or cook, deep clean your oven every 3 months. If you only use your oven now and then, you can deep clean it every 6 months. 

Tip: Treating spills as soon as they happen will help a lot with future cleaning. Saturate the spill with table salt as soon as it happens and then wipe up once the oven has cooled.

Method #1: The self-clean feature

Most modern ovens come with a self-cleaning function that only requires the push of a button. When you start this cycle, your oven will heat to extremely high temperatures. The super high heat incinerates any food particles or drippings and leaves behind a powdery ash that is easy to wipe away. How long this process takes will vary from oven to oven, but it typically takes a few hours. 

This method gives you great results without using any chemicals, and your oven will be sanitized at such hot temperatures.

How to clean using the self-clean feature

This method is simple! Check the oven’s manufacturer’s guide to see if you need to remove the racks, open a few windows and turn on the exhaust fan if you have one, then start the self-cleaning cycle. Once the oven has completely cooled, wipe the inside with a damp cloth to remove the ash, then follow the deep cleaning steps below for all other parts of the oven.

Method #2: Baking soda and vinegar

If your oven does not have a self-cleaning feature or you prefer not to use it, this method will clean the interior of your oven using two common items you likely already have in your pantry—baking soda and vinegar. It is also completely natural (and affordable!) and you do not need to worry about ventilation while you clean like you do in the other two methods.

What you’ll need

  • Baking soda

  • Spray bottle with white vinegar

  • Stiff bristled scrubbing brush

  • Cleaning cloth

How to clean using baking soda and vinegar

  1. Remove the grates. 

  2. Make a paste of baking soda and water and completely coat the interior of the oven. 

  3. Use a stiff bristled cleaning brush to thoroughly scrub all of the walls. 

  4. Wipe away the baking soda paste with a cleaning cloth. 

  5. Spray the interior of the oven with vinegar. The vinegar will bubble when it comes into contact with any remaining baking soda. 

  6. Wipe away the vinegar and any remaining baking soda.

  7. Follow the deep cleaning steps below for all other parts of the oven.

Method #3: Specialty oven-cleaning products

These cleaning products are specially formulated to do heavy duty cleaning without damaging the interior of your oven. Check your oven manufacturer’s directions before you purchase your cleaning product to make sure that it is safe to use on your oven’s finish.  

What you’ll need

  • Oven cleaning product

  • Cleaning cloth or paper towels

Note: Different parts of an oven will often require different cleaning products. For example, glass stovetops can require a different cleaner than an interior cleaning product. Make sure you are using the correct type of cleaner for the interior surface. 

How to clean using specialty cleaning products

  1. Remove the grates. 

  2. Because oven-cleaning products will often emit fumes, open a few windows and turn on the exhaust fan if you have one before you start cleaning. 

  3. Apply the cleaning product to a completely cooled oven according to the product’s directions. Many will require you to let the product sit for an extended period of time. 

  4. Once the product is done working, wipe away with a cleaning cloth or paper towels. 

  5. Follow the deep cleaning steps below for all other parts of the oven.

Cleaning oven doors, knobs, and racks

Once you have deep cleaned the interior of the oven and it has completely cooled (if you used the self-cleaning method), finish cleaning the exterior and removable parts of your oven. 

  • Racks: Clean with hot water, dish soap, and a scouring pad. If your oven racks are large or difficult to handle, you can soak them in the bathtub with dishwasher detergent and rinse before returning to the oven.

  • Knobs: Spray your cleaner onto a cleaning rag and wipe down knobs and buttons. If your knobs are removable, take them off to thoroughly clean.

  • Door: If your door is glass, use glass cleaner or vinegar and a cleaning cloth to wipe. If it’s stainless steel, clean it with vinegar (you can use the spray bottle from the baking soda and vinegar method).

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