The Best Way to Clean an Oven (+ Natural Oven Cleaner)

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Oven cleaning stinks! It is time-consuming and the chemicals that are used in most conventional oven cleaners are toxic. When I started switching all of my household cleaners to more natural methods, finding a way to clean the oven using a natural oven cleaner was at the top of my list.

I do not have a self-cleaning oven as some do (more thoughts on that next), so I had to find an easy way to stay on top of my dirty (heavily used) oven.

Natural Ways to Clean an Oven

If you are like me, your oven occasionally (or once a week in my case) gets burnt-on food on the bottom, splattered food on the sides, or dried food stuck on the rack.

I do not have a self-cleaning oven as some do, and having to wipe down the oven for an hour with good old-fashioned elbow grease (not to mention sticking my head/half of my body in a grimy oven) seemed like a pretty unappealing option.

I know, a self-cleaning oven would be one way to solve this problem, but I’ve read that the high heat self-cleaning ovens use may cause fuses or elements to burn out more quickly. There are also some concerns about substances released into the air from the high heat of the self-cleaning cycle.

So, for now, my oven is self-cleaned… by me!

Natural Oven Cleaner: Methods of Attack

It can be all too easy to ignore a dirty oven since we can close the oven door and pretend it’s not there (unlike my sink full of dishes spilling out onto the counter…ahem). Still, at a certain point all that baked-on food = a smoky oven you can’t use!

I checked for specific oven cleaning products at the store and definitely did not want those ingredients in my oven around the food I was cooking for my family.

Thankfully, there are a number of easy ways to clean an oven without harsh chemicals or a lot of scrubbing. I tried a variety of natural treatments before stumbling on a cheap and easy natural oven cleaner: baking soda!

Option 1: Baking Soda

Though it seems like a simple fix, a quick baking soda paste applied to oven grime is really effective and makes the daunting task of oven cleaning a little easier.

Here’s all you need (really!):

Supplies

  • spray bottle with water
  • baking soda

All I have to do to get a shining oven is spray the whole oven down with a water bottle so that it is damp and sprinkle baking soda in a thick layer on the bottom of the oven.

Here’s the process step by step:

Instructions

  1. Spray the entire interior of the oven with water, making sure it is evenly damp.
  2. Pour about a 1/4 inch layer of baking soda on the bottom of the oven. If you see any dry spots, mist it with the water bottle until it resembles a paste.
  3. Walk away and leave the paste on for a few hours (with the oven off, unless you want to see some amateur special effects… I don’t recommend this!)The easiest and fastest way to clean your oven naturally without chemicals or baking soda
  4. After a few hours, simply wipe up the paste with a cloth or an old towel. All the grime will come with it!
  5. For really baked-on grime, this may take a couple applications, but it always works and it is 100% natural.

Note: I’ve found that it is important to make sure that any residue has been completely removed before using the oven as any remaining baking soda may smoke if left in contact with the heating element!

Some people suggest spraying down the oven with some white vinegar as a last step, to break up the heavy paste and make it easier to clean out the oven, but I don’t usually find this necessary.

Option 2: Branch Basics

The baking soda method was one of my first natural cleaning discoveries, but since then I found another natural way that I like even better!

It is called Branch Basics and be warned… gushing will follow as I am addicted to their products. I’d heard of these cleaners for a long time before trying them (skeptic that I am) because I am fond of my thrifty homemade cleaners and I doubted it could possibly be as good as other people said it was.

Turns out, it isn’t as good… it’s better! I feel silly for waiting so long to try it.

Here’s the story:

The Great Oven Explosion…

It all started when I had to cook for a big group and I had a lot of sweet potatoes and regular potatoes in the oven. In my haste, I had forgotten to poke them all with a fork and several potatoes had exploded, Of course, all of the sweet potatoes had dropped their normal sticky mess all over the oven racks and on the bottom of the oven.

It was a smoky, awful mess. It was also bad because this was just before Thanksgiving company came and I needed my oven fully functional ASAP. The baking soda method wouldn’t work since it took several hours if not overnight to work.

I decided to put my new Branch Basics to the test… I figured if it could clean that oven it could do anything!

The Big Reveal…

First, I made a really concentrated 50:50 mixture of the Branch Basics concentrate (it’s a kind of all-purpose spray you can use for just about anything). Then I just sprayed it on the oven.

I watched in amazement as the cooked-on junk literally just melted off the sides and the bottom of the oven!

Finally, I wiped with a natural bristle brush and some microfiber cloths and it looked like a brand-new oven! It definitely beat the baking soda method.

A DIY Diva Gives In…

After that you’d better believe I bought a 5-gallon pail of their concentrate and it should last us years ?

If like me you could use something that makes cleaning a little easier and more enjoyable, Branch Basics extended a discount to Wellness Mama readers: use the code MAMA15 at this link for 15% off a starter kit for first-time customers.

Of course, I still use and love my tried-and-true DIY natural cleaning recipes which are often cheaper and always on hand. Still, who doesn’t need a little shortcut now and then? Plus, Branch Basics was started by a mom who needed natural and safe solutions for home cleaning. (Sounds familiar!) Hear the whole fascinating story in this Wellness Mama podcast.

How do you clean your oven without harsh chemicals? Have you found a natural oven cleaner that works for you? Share your tips below!

For natural oven cleaning, Baking Soda and water make a very effective, natural and non-toxic oven cleaner that costs pennies to make!

Sources
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

77 responses to “The Best Way to Clean an Oven (+ Natural Oven Cleaner)”

    1. Barbara Avatar

      Since I live in a rental apartment, I clean my oven racks in a big black garbage bag in the bathtub. It needs to be a fairly thick bag. I use approximately 8 cups of hot water, 1 cup of amonia, and 2 Tablespoons of dawn dish detergent. It’s potent and powerful. Let soak for several hours and turn the bag over every so often. Pour the sludge out of the bag and rinse thoroughly.

    2. Sabrina Avatar

      I put them in the tub on a rag, pour some hot water, just to cover them. I throw in the water 2-3 dish washing machine pods, and 6-7 drying sheets (I only use those sheets for this business). I leave them there for a day. The next day the gunk comes out like flakes. I finish the job in the kitchen sink, where I use a scrub to remove the rest. It comes off easily, only needs a little push. The result is shiny SS racks.

    1. Margaret Avatar
      Margaret

      Patsy,
      I’m pretty sure it can be used on a gas oven. I’ve been afraid to use the nasty chemicals from the store because I have a gas oven. It just didn’t seem to make sense to spray that stuff where a pilot is always lit, not to mention the fumes in the house! I’m trying it tonight and will let you know how it goes.

  1. christi Avatar
    christi

    I had a spaghetti squash literally explode in the oven and splatter over the floor, wall, countertop, cabinet drawers, refrigerator, and me (the oven door was open and the squash was on a baking sheet with the oven rack pulled out part way). If the colossal mess weren’t enough, I’m still sporting the burns to remind me to NEVER relive that experience again.

    Anyway, I’ve been a little intimidated by the spaghetti squash being EVERYWHERE in the oven…even on the upper side of the broiler element. I haven’t used the oven since it happened for fear of making the problem worse. It is stuck/baked on like stringy glue and I was wondering how to get the baking soda “paste” to all those areas other than the oven floor. Any ideas?

    Many thanks!

  2. Melissa Avatar
    Melissa

    What about spraying with vinegar first and then using the baking soda? I feel like to two would work better together as they create a fizzy reaction to help lift the gunk up?

  3. Serena Avatar

    Hello I was aware of this but am scared to try it as my elec fan oven has grill heaters at the top can these be done… The roof is coated in grease but I can’t get there 🙁

  4. Saskia Avatar

    Hi,
    I will try this within the next few days. I just have one question: How do you get the baking soda everywhere? Like on the sides and the oven ceiling?

  5. Adriana Avatar

    Just tried the baking soda paste and the result on the thick food stains were immediately. It came off just a few minutes ( 2 or 3) after applying it. Let it set for a while to see what it can do about the thin food stains on the bottom part of my oven. Will let you know….

  6. Lara Avatar

    Hi there! Does this also take the grime off the glass door in the front? Mine is NASTY for the very reason oven cleaners literally take my breath away until I feel like I’m going to die from them, they’re so harsh!

    1. Jellie Avatar

      I realise this is an old post but I just used a magic eraser on my oven door and was gobsmaked! Ten years I have not been able to see through that oven door (it came with the house) and I gave it a gentle rub in a circular motion and it is like new. I even had witnesses. We just stared at each other in awe. LOL. Rubbed my fingers across it . . . squeaky clean!

      1. Carol L Avatar

        Magic erasers are made from melamine, a nasty form of plastic. It is not healthy for you. Just an FYI. there is another similar product, that is made from glass…..I use it on my tub; the original tub from my 1945 house. Still working on getting it white again!

  7. Stina Avatar

    Problem: new pizza stone is refusing to go no-stick no matter how much coconut oil you rub into it.
    Solution: bake a full rasher of bacon on the thing. That’ll teach it!
    Problem: bacon grease has dripped all over the bottom of your oven. Have you ever seen an oven fire due to grease on the floor of the oven? I have. It’s not pretty.
    Solution: layer of baking soda & water, leave to sit for a few hours.
    Problem: well, now the baking soda is turning into bacon grease baking soda paste.
    Solution: squirt of dish soap over the whole thing, then rinse well.
    Yay! It worked!
    So, if you’re having a problem with the baking soda not picking up grease, try a squirt of a good dish soap on top, and just rinse. The dish soap will cut through the grease and you’ll be golden. And the combination of good dish soap + baking soda + grease might leave you with very soft, moisturized hands. Seriously, it’s kinda crazy how nice my hands feel right now.

    1. Jonette Avatar
      Jonette

      Oh, my, goodness! Your post was the funniest I’ve ever read! Informative as well! Thanks!

  8. Aryn Avatar

    I know this is a pretty old post, but I just need to say that I had an awful stain on my glass toaster door; A bag of carrots got a little too close to the hot door and left a blue paint/plastic mark. I tried everything- glass cleaner, and even the high powered toxic oven cleaner. It didn’t even fade. I finally tried this and IT’S GONE. It also doesn’t leave that residue that the toxic stuff leaves. Who would’ve thought just simple vinegar and baking soda could do that? Thanks Wellness Mama!

  9. Caitlyn Baldo Avatar
    Caitlyn Baldo

    This totally worked for our post Thanksgiving oven disaster, ie; turkey grease spilled and a pie made with maple syrup bubbled over, sticky mess and grease both gone.

  10. Cheryl Lauer Avatar
    Cheryl Lauer

    BTW, I have a self cleaning oven and was told every time I use that feature, I shorten the life of the part that lights the oven ! I’ve had it replaced twice now, so I’m definitely using the baking soda !!!!!

  11. Astrid Avatar

    It’s so annoying that baking Soda isn’t available in my country, as it is used in almost anything.

    1. Laura Avatar

      Do you have anything named sodium bicarbonate? At the chemist/pharmacy? The are the same thing.

  12. Jodi Avatar

    I just tried the baking soda and water method of cleaning my oven….perfect!! So happy I found you and your idea on Pinterest. Thanks!

    1. Maxine Avatar

      For cleaning the oven keep a spray bottle of vinegar and dawn and spray and wipe after using and if there are any caked spots sprinkle baking soda and allow to sit for a few minutes then wipe down.

  13. Sara Avatar

    Trying it right now…It is so bad every time I open the oven door the smoke detector was going off. I tried a fume free oven cleaner and it didn’t solve the problem not to mention smelled awful, so much for the fume free.

  14. Danielle Garcia Avatar
    Danielle Garcia

    I DID THIS!!! It worked wonderfully!  I had a disaster of an oven–literally–thick, burned drippings on the bottom of my oven and now it’s smooth and clean.  I am sooo glad that I could do it without toxic chemicals!! thank you for this!

      1. Teresa Avatar

        Will this work on the top of my stove. I have tried everything to clean the burner wells and can not get the great out.

        1. Raewyn Avatar

          I have been reading all these comments
          I am trying to get the bake in carbon on the roof of the oven
          getting better but want to get it all off the sides and back of the oven are
          pretty good racks came up awesome used citrus bench cleaner
          so all I am looking at is getting the roof of my oven smooth again
          anyone help me

  15. Harold Avatar

    Wonderful recipe and tip for oven cleaning.
    I use baking soda paste for cleaning all kinds of stains in my whole kitchen, no only in the oven. I love how it works on baked-on grease. 

    1. Betty Avatar

      I wet down the oven with water and then put the baking soda on, but then I spray with white vinegar and let it bubble up and wipe clean. Might take more than once if really baked on.

    2. Nancy Avatar

      Sink scrub recipe with Castile soap and baking soda works great since its a paste for walls and roof of oven for those of you asking. Grease came off right away.

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