woman in red coat pulling item out of oven

Can You Really Clean Your Oven With Natural Cleaning Products?

Last Updated: May 5, 2022

Whether your oven is a sticky mess or you generally keep it pristine, our guide to cleaning this kitchen appliance makes it easy to tackle a tough task with natural products.

If your oven is a hot mess, you might dread having to tackle a deep clean. And we get it! Truth is, giving the oven a good scrub tends to be a divisive (and a much loathed) cleaning task. Most people either figure it doesn’t really need a thorough cleaning, or they just don’t want to do it for fear it’s going to take forever.

Fortunately, it’s not as hard as you might think to get your oven squeaky clean and looking new again — even if it’s been a while since you last cleaned it.

Granted, depending on the type of oven you have and how often you clean it, some of you might have a tougher job than others. But even the filthiest oven can be cleaned with minimal heartache when you’re armed with the right tools, effective natural cleaners, and an easy primer like this one. We’re here with help every step of the way, from keeping the oven presentable to a real “roll up the sleeves” scrub down.

Why should you clean your oven?

The truth is, your oven simply looks better when it’s clean and sparkling! Not enough incentive to convince you to give it a deep clean? How about this: Your food will also taste better, and you’ll have less germs making their home in your kitchen.

Ovens can really take a hit, especially if you use yours frequently. Splatters, pops, and spills happen often, and every time a dish or pan leaves behind one of those things, the remnants basically bake themselves into what can feel like a permanent fixture of your oven’s interior if you don’t clean it right away. In fact, research has shown that the oven is one of the five major contaminants in the kitchen.

How often should you clean your oven?

This can vary depending on personal preference. If you’d rather let spills go until your oven becomes a disaster zone and forces you to partake in a one-time deep clean, go for it.

But if you like to stay on top of things and don’t mind devoting a little time keeping things clean week-to-week, it will be infinitely easier to keep your oven clear of grime in the long run. Generally, we recommend deep cleaning your oven on a 3-6 month schedule, unless your oven gets especially dirty frequently. Then, it may be best to clean it more often and spot-clean as needed.

Does a self-cleaning oven really work?

If your oven cleans itself, you can opt to use the self-cleaning feature, but it does come with some dangers, both to your household and the environment. The self-cleaning cycle works by turning the oven up to extremely high temperatures to transform leftover food particles to ash. The upside is that once it’s done and cools down, you can wipe away the ash with a damp cloth and have a bright, clean oven without doing much work.

While the benefit is definitely ease, self-cleaning can become a fire hazard in some older models or ovens with a lot of grease caked on the bottom. Self-cleaning can also cause toxic fumes and smoke to roll through your house, and since the function requires high temperatures, it drains more energy and can make your home even hotter.

If you go the self-cleaning route, be sure to remove everything from the oven prior, and check your manual in case you need to remove the oven racks as well. It’s also best to do it when your kids aren’t around.

Grove Tip

What does an oven’s steam-cleaning option mean?

Some ovens offer a steam-cleaning option, but it’s not really meant for hard cleaning. If there is a lot of grease and grime, you’re better off using the regular self-clean feature, or cleaning it manually. However, the steam-cleaning feature can be great for minor messes and doesn’t take very long to complete. Once the cycle is done, you can use a sponge or cloth to wipe away leftover residue.

If your oven doesn’t have a steam-clean option, but you want to give steaming a shot, you can always DIY:

  • Just put an oven-safe pot full of water with white vinegar inside
  • Turn up the heat so the water comes to a boil and starts to steam
  • Let it steam for 30 minutes
  • Then allow it to cool before wiping it clean

How to clean the inside of an oven

Step 1: Make a paste using baking soda mixed with water.

There’s no set recipe or formula, but the bigger the oven, the more paste you’ll need to make. A good average is half a cup of each ingredient. The main goal is to make sure you get your paste thick enough to spread easily: It shouldn’t be so thick you can’t spread it, or so soupy it drips everywhere.

To learn more about how to make a baking soda paste for every cleaning conundrum, read our article from Grove writer Kristen who actually tried using baking soda on some nasty stains.

Step 2: Remove everything from your oven, including the oven racks.

Don’t worry, we’ll get to the oven racks separately below.

Step 3: Apply baking soda mixture.

Put on gloves, and then use a paintbrush to spread a layer of the baking soda mixture over the entire inside of your oven to remove stubborn stains, leaving out the heating element. You can even use this paste on the oven glass if you have a glass oven door too.

Yes, this process will be messy, but your gloves will protect your hands from old grease, soot, and funk. Add extra paste to areas that are really caked with food particles.

Step 4: Allow the baking soda paste to dry overnight.

You should let it sit for at least 12 hours or so. The baking soda will turn brown as it hardens, but that’s okay — it just means it’s doing its job!

Step 5: Wipe away paste.

Use warm water to dampen the paste and wipe it away with reusable paper towels, or you can use a spray bottle filled with vinegar. Vinegar will react with the baking soda and bubble, helping to remove some of the harder, more bound residue.

If you use warm water, wipe away all the gunk you can, and use the silicone scraper or bamboo spatula to help remove anything that’s stuck. Then, you can use the vinegar as a final spray on any stubborn areas.

We love cleaning vinegar because it holds the same properties as distilled white vinegar but is an even stronger cleaning agent. Read more about cleaning vinegar and how to use it here!

Step 6: Wipe away all remaining residue.

Use a microfiber cloth (and multi-surface spray, if needed) to reveal a shiny, clean oven. If the baking soda paste didn’t get the glass door clean enough, you can try using a razor blade to scrape away stubborn debris.

Grove Tip

How to minimize the mess when cleaning your oven

Spread recycled garbage bags or brown paper from your last shipment box around the floor of the oven to avoid making a mess you’ll have to mop later. For any small drips, you can simply use a natural floor cleaner to wipe down any spots and keep your floors looking their best.

How to clean oven racks

Some oven racks are small enough to clean in the kitchen sink. Others may be better off being cleaned in the bathtub, where you’ll have more room.

It’s not that hard to clean oven racks. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Fill either the sink or tub with hot water and dish soap or laundry detergent.
  2. Then, place the racks in the soapy water, allowing them to soak overnight if possible.
  3. Use a scrub brush or scrubber sponge to scrub away grease and residue the next day.
  4. If there are any spots that the brush doesn’t reach, try using a smaller toothbrush.
  5. Now it’s time to rinse the racks, dry them, and reinstall them inside the oven (after you’ve cleaned the interior).

Grove Tip

Break back out the baking soda.

For particularly grimy oven racks, you can dust them with baking soda, spray them with vinegar, and allow the mixture to bubble before soaking the racks in hot water overnight.

How to clean the outside of an oven

Yup, you should probably be cleaning the outside of your oven on the same day you clean the interior for a truly sparkling oven. Microfiber cloths are great for cleaning your oven door and exterior. A warm, damp microfiber cloth cleans grease and prints exceptionally well (although you can also use an all-purpose cleaner if you prefer, or a mixture of vinegar and water).

If your oven is stainless steel, you can finish things off with a natural stainless steel spray, like this one from method. Just don’t use it on the interior, where it could catch fire.

Grove Tip

Don't forget the window!

That little window on your oven could also use some TLC — but don’t worry, it’s easy! Just mix hot water and baking soda, dip a microfiber cloth in the mixture, and wipe away all that baked on grease. Now you can clearly see when the pizza crust is baked to a perfect crisp!

Some ovens also feature a little slit on the bottom of the glass window so you can stick a cloth up into it and clean the inside of the glass.

Tips & tricks for cleaning your oven

How do you clean oven knobs?

You can use the same microfiber cloth and cleaning solution you used on your oven exterior to clean your oven knobs. Some ovens allow you to remove the knobs so you can wipe beneath them really well too.

If they aren’t removable, try using a folded reusable paper towel dampened with a cleaner to slide beneath the edges and get any residue or crumbs that may have crept beneath them.

How do you clean the oven drawer?

If you cook with your oven a lot, you know that your oven drawer often winds up being a crumb collector. Even though it’s home to your nice, clean cookie pans, crumbs find their way down there and make a mess of things. Just empty out your drawer and use damp reusable paper towels with a natural cleaning spray or cleaning wipe to clean out the crumbs.

For drips that may have found their way down and hardened, you can use the baking soda and vinegar trick on those before scrubbing stubborn spills away. Once you’ve got all the crud and crumbs out, simply replace everything and viola! Your oven is now squeaky clean—ready for any spills or leaky pans you throw its way.

Quick oven cleaning checklist:

Night before oven cleaning:

  1. Remove oven racks and soak.
  2. Apply baking soda paste to the oven and let it sit.

Day of oven cleaning:

  1. Scrub/clean the oven racks, rinse, and allow to dry.
  2. Clean the oven interior and dry it thoroughly.
  3. Replace the oven racks.
  4. Clean the oven exterior.
  5. Clean the oven knobs.
  6. Empty out the oven drawer.
  7. Clean the oven drawer and let it dry.
  8. Replace pans and other items in the oven drawer.
  9. Celebrate!
Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and Grove Co. cleaning caddy

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