The Complete Guide to Cleaning Your Oven

The Complete Guide to Cleaning Your Oven

Cleaning your oven is a chore that most people dread. From the charred mess that collects on the bottom of the kitchen oven to the greasy build-up on the glass so you can’t see what you’re cooking, the chore of cleaning the messes can feel difficult and overwhelming.  

Thankfully, with the right knowledge and tools, the ominous chore of cleaning your oven will become one of your easier chores. You will gain confidence in knowing when to clean your oven and the proper ways to clean your specific oven, and its individual parts, in no time!

By the end of this article, you should feel like a pro at cleaning your oven and be able to impress your friends with how knowledgeable and handy you are on the topic. Before we discuss the nitty-gritty for cleaning your ovens, let’s explain the why and frequency for cleaning your ovens. 

A general rule of thumb is to clean your oven once every three months

The Why  

Simply put, forgetting to clean your oven can depreciate the quality and taste of the food you cook inside. Burnt-on foods continue to burn each time you turn your oven on and thus, the smell and flavor of the burnt food will contaminate your food.  Cleaning your oven periodically will improve the quality of the food you are currently cooking inside.   

The Frequency 

How often you need to clean your oven depends on how much you use your oven. There are a few tell-tale signs to look for to know when your oven needs a deep scrub. The first sign is a buildup of residue on the floor of your oven. If there is a melting pot of food or charred residue at the bottom of your oven, then it is time for a cleaning. 

The second sign is food or grease residue buildup on the glass. If you cannot tell whether you are cooking chicken breast or a meatloaf, that is also a tell-tale sign that your oven is due for a cleaning.  If you don’t think you can remember those two signs, a general rule of thumb is to clean your oven once every three months.  Finally, the more spot cleaning you do on a week-to-week basis, the easier the cleanup process will be every three months. 

Now that you have the basics as for why and how often to clean your ovens, let’s discuss the various ways you can accomplish this task.  There are three ideas to use for cleaning your oven’s interior and two ideas for cleaning the oven racks. 

Cleaning Your Ovens Interior 

Remember to remove your oven racks and clean them by hand. 

Using the Self-Cleaning Function 

That’s right, if you have a newer oven you may have a self-cleaning function. This is, by far, the easiest way to clean your oven.  If you want to relax while your oven does all the work and avoid using chemical oven cleaners, this is your best option.  

Does this smart feature actually work? Yes, the self-cleaning feature heats the oven to about 880 degrees Fahrenheit. At these scalding hot temperatures, the food inside will incinerate and become an ash-like residue.

How to use it properly

You will need to wipe down your oven after the self-cleaning process is complete to wipe away any leftover ash. Be warned, if you have an excess of food at the bottom of your oven you will need to remove it before starting the self-clean cycle as this food can smoke up and, in extreme cases, start a fire. But yes, the self-cleaning function does work.   

Some things to consider: Make sure you understand your specific oven self-cleaning instructions. You will need to remove the oven racks and clean them by hand (see How to Properly Clean Your Oven Racks below). The self-cleaning function may heat up your house and cause a distinct odor, opening a window will help alleviate any unwanted odor.

How Long?

The self-cleaning process may take anywhere from two to five hours so a helpful tip is to start the self-cleaning function before you go to bed and sleep through it. Your oven will be sparkling clean in the morning and all you will have to do is wipe out the ash residue and clean the racks if needed.  

Cleaning Your Oven Using Store Bought Cleanser 

Wearing proper protections including rubber gloves and eye goggles are essential when using oven cleaner. 

Okay so maybe the self-cleaning option isn’t your cup of tea and you would rather roll up your sleeves and clean your oven by hand. Yes, this option is more work but the satisfaction you will get once you are done is worth it! 

Materials Needed 

  1. Store-bought oven cleansers such as Easy-Off, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or Method brands. 
  1. Paper towels to cover your floor from gross spills   
  1. Rubber Gloves and goggles for protection since store-bought cleanser are full of harmful chemicals 
  1. Soft sponge or rag   

Steps Using the Store-Bought Cleanser 

  1. Remove the racks from your oven   
  1. Lay the paper towels on the floor beneath your oven for unwanted spills    
  1. Spray the interior of your oven with the oven cleaner. Make sure you have hand and eye protection on and be sure to cover all the corners and crevasses of the interior. Let the spray sit for 30 minutes   
  1. While you’re waiting for your cleaner to work on the interior of your oven, you can prepare your oven racks for cleaning.  Refer below on how to clean oven racks.      
  1. After 30 minutes has passed, take a damp rag and wipe down your oven.   
  1.  Sit back and admire your work! 

Cleaning Your Oven Using a DIY Baking Soda Mix 

To make a Baking soda paste, mix ½ cup of baking soda with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Adjust ingredients until you have a nice paste. 

To avoid using harmful chemicals, you can choose a more natural approach by making your own cleanser using simple materials on hand such as baking soda, water and vinegar. Follow these steps for a more natural way to cleanse your ovens.  

  1. Remove the racks from your oven  
  1. Lay the paper towels on the floor beneath your oven for unwanted spills  
  1. Using a bowl, mix a ½ cup of baking soda with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Adjust the ingredients as needed until you have a spreadable paste that covers your oven’s interior.  
  1. With your gloves on, use your hands to liberally spread the paste throughout the interior of your oven, covering all the corners and crevasses including the oven door glass. When you are finished applying the paste, allow it to break down the burned food and grease for 30 to 60 minutes.  You may also spray vinegar over the paste for some extra cleaning power.  Allow it to bubble and set for the 30-60 minutes.  
  1. While the baking soda paste is cleaning your oven, you can work on cleaning the oven racks (see How to Properly Clean Your Oven Racks below) 
  1. After the allotted time is up, take a damp cloth or a non-abrasive pad and wipe down your oven, making sure everything is dry  

Cleaning Your Oven Racks

Cleaning your oven racks may be more difficult than it may seem if they are too dirty to simply clean in your kitchen sink with dish detergent.  There are two preferred methods when deep cleaning your oven racks. 

The Bathtub Method  

  1. Fill the bathtub with scalding hot water, just enough to cover the racks.  
  1. Add ½ cup of your preferred dish soap. Let soak for two hours.  Another option when using the bathtub method is to sprinkle baking soda over the racks and then pour hot water over the racks, just enough to cover.  Then douse them with vinegar, wait for the foaming to subside and let soak for several hours.  
  1. After they’re done soaking, scrub the racks with an abrasive sponge to remove all the residue and grease. Rinse and dry them off.  
  1. Put racks back in the oven 

The Trash Bag method 

  1. Put your oven racks in a large trash bag and add ½ quart of ammonia. 
  1. Seal the bag and let sit overnight. 
  1. The next day, open the bags and rinse the racks thoroughly.  When opening the bag, you may want to also open a window to allow some ventilation for the ammonia fumes. 
  1. Dry racks and replace in the oven.   


Your oven is one of the most used appliances in your kitchen and it is prone to get dirty. Taking a few extra steps to stay on top of your cleaning will go a long way. For making your food taste better and your kitchen looking cleaner, a spotless oven is important.   

If you need that extra push to start cleaning your oven, or more tips on keeping your house clean, download our app Dirtfree and try it today!

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