Written by Grove Collaborative

Clean Team: How to clean an oven.

Last Updated: September 24, 2020

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.

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Ready to tackle the dirtiest spots in your home? Grove Collaborative has you covered with Clean Team. Each week, we’ll do a deep dive into how to clean a different place or item in your home. No spot is too small — and we’ll tell you how to conquer them all, naturally.

If your oven is a hot mess, you might dread the idea of having to tackle a deep clean. And we get it! Truth is, giving the oven a good scrub tends to be a divisive (and much loathed) cleaning task. Most people either figure it doesn’t really need a thorough cleaning, or they just plain 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 you’ve been woefully remiss in keeping it clean. 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 and know-how. 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 bother cleaning it right away.

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 — and with much less elbow grease. Generally, we recommend cleaning your oven on a three to six month schedule, unless your oven gets especially dirty frequently. Then, it may be best to clean it more often and spot-clean as needed.

What if your oven is self-cleaning?

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. Self-cleaning cycles work 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. Grease can easily catch fire, so you have to be careful and keep an eye on it when using the self-clean feature. 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 racks as well. It’s also best to do it when your kids aren’t around.

Some ovens also 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, and 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.

What materials do you need for a clean oven?

For those that don’t have a self-cleaning oven or don’t like to use the feature for the reasons listed above, an old-fashioned scrub down works equally as well and doesn’t have to be overly arduous. You can even add it to your next spring cleaning checklist, to ensure your oven never goes unnoticed. Before you start, gather your materials.

Video how-to

Clean Minute: How to clean your oven naturally

More of a visual learner? We get it! Follow our clean minute breakdown of how to tackle your oven — just hit play.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our entire Clean Minute series for pointers on tackling your home's trickiest cleaning tasks.

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 try a ratio of 1/2 cup baking soda with 2-3 tablespoons of water. The bigger the oven, the more paste you’ll need to make. 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.

Step 2

Spread garbage bags or newspapers 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.) Remove everything from your oven, including the oven racks (you’ll clean those separately — see “how to clean oven racks”).

Step 3

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

You can use warm water to dampen the paste and wipe it away with 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 plastic scraper/spatula to help remove anything that’s stuck. Then, you can use the vinegar as a final spray on any stubborn areas.

Step 6

Wipe all remaining residue away using a microfiber cloth 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.

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. Before you start cleaning the oven’s interior, fill either the sink or tub with hot water and dish or laundry detergent, and place the racks in the soapy water, allowing them to soak overnight if possible.

You can then use a wire scrub brush to scrub away grease and residue the next day. If there are any spots that the wire brush doesn’t seem to be reaching, try using an old toothbrush. Once you have the oven racks scrubbed, you can rinse them, dry them, and reinstall them inside the oven (after you’ve cleaned the interior).

Grove Tip

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

Microfiber cloths are great for cleaning your oven door and exterior. A warm, damp 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 shine-enhancing oil, just don’t use it on the interior, where it could catch fire.

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

How to 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 paper towels with a cleaner to wipe 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, too, 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 to for any spills, pops, or leaky pans you throw its way.

Oven cleaning checklist

The night before:

  • Remove oven racks and soak.
  • Apply baking soda paste to oven and let sit.

Day of:

  • Scrub/clean oven racks, rinse, and allow to dry.
  • Clean oven interior and dry thoroughly.
  • Replace oven racks.
  • Clean oven exterior.
  • Clean oven knobs.
  • Empty out oven drawer.
  • Clean oven drawer and let dry.
  • Replace pans and other items in oven drawer.
  • Celebrate!

Looking for more cleaning how-tos and other sustainable swaps you can make at home? Grove has you covered. From timely topics such as our handwashing and hand sanitizer breakdown to evergreen primers like our simple ways to reduce your plastic use at home, our handy guides are here to answer your most pressing questions. And let us know how if you have any cleaning questions (or share your own tips using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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