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. Suzanne Avatar

    Per my sister’s request (and not thinking it through), I used a regular OTC toxic cleaner last night. After waking up with a migraine and a mostly clean oven, I need to start round #2.

    Questions: What can I do to get the nasty cleaner residue out of the oven? Is there anything I can put on the bottom of the oven to prevent future messes that won’t compromise the cooking process?

    Thanks, Suzanne

  2. Sherry Davis Avatar
    Sherry Davis

    Just tried the baking soda method to remove grease from my oven. WOW! It works beautifully and easily! When my son noticed it, he actually said it looks like I had bought a new oven! For him to even notice on his own is a miracle in itself! Thank you for the tip. Baking soda is its own miracle!

  3. Carol Avatar

    My baking soda mixture was like rock in the morning and won’t come off hardly….any ideas

  4. Deborah Avatar

    Great post Katie. I use a variation of your method which I love.
    I just put the empty oven on a high heat, 200 deg C, for 5 or 10 minutes, or I do this after I’ve just used the oven as it’s already piping hot. I then pour a small amount of hot water on to the floor of the oven so that it sizzles and steams. This alone has easily lifted baked on grease, sugar etc. that’s been left for a couple of weeks or er…months (same as how chef’s ‘de-glaze’ their pans). It’s so easy to then wipe away. Not even bicarb is needed.
    Anything that’s left on the oven floor and then to clean the oven sides, door etc. gets a covering of bicarb and water paste for an hour and again wipe off. Low cost, minimal effort required and most importantly it’s another job that I don’t dread 🙂

  5. Tina Avatar

    Katie, when you have a spill in your oven, while you are still cooking sprinkle salt over the spill to cc over. This will cut down on the smoke and at the end of the cooking process you will be able to lift the spill away with a spatula. Once the oven is cool it is very simple to wipe away any excess salt.

  6. Matthew Gager Avatar
    Matthew Gager

    HELP! I used the paste of baking soda and water with a bunch of Dawn. After the initial clean, I rinsed it with water three times. I turned the oven on and it smelled really bad…like melting wax and burning tires. I tried rinsing it with water and vinegar a couple times today. I turned it on and it still smelled. So, I decided to open all the windows and turned the ceiling fans on, then blasted it at 500 degrees for a half hour.

    Anyway, it still smells. Any suggestions?

    1. Amy Avatar

      Matthew, the same thing happened to me. I thought some paste got into the fan. Here’s what happened for me: check the “floor” of your oven and see if it’s removable. Mine looked screwed into the back wall but it actually wasn’t. When I lifted it up and out I found chunks of the paste underneath. It was baking everything I turned it on. Vacuum it if you have to and wipe with dry towel first, then wet and vacuum again if necessary. It was an immediate fix for me! Good luck.

  7. Amy Avatar

    I tried this as a paste with baking soda and dawn. It worked wonderfully, but as it looks like I removed everything, and the oven is clean even to the touch, everytime I turn the oven on I have a residue falling from “somewhere” I wipe it clean again, and the next time I turn oven on the residue is back. I’ve been using the lower oven as I only cleaned the top to try it out. Any hints how to finally get the hidden residue gone?

    1. Christina Avatar

      Just a thought off the top of my head — maybe wipe down w/white vinegar? Or a combination of vinegar & baking soda? I’d hesitate to use more cleaning ingredients than absolutely necessary, but my guess is that there’s some soap, or soap-and-baking soda mixture, hidden deep in the crevices of your oven, and it’s only coming to the surface when heated. Sooooo, maybe the “bowl of lemon juice” trick w/a heated oven, or just spraying w/vinegar to try to coax out the hidden residue (if there’s baking soda in the residue, vinegar will hopefully react & maximize the effectiveness). Anyway, thank goodness you have another oven to use while this one’s acting up! I’m planning to do the same thing: clean one oven at a time, so I have one to use no matter what! Keep us posted 🙂

  8. Karl K Avatar

    I just spent 2 hours cleaning my oven with a paste of Comet and water. It hadn’t been cleaned for 10 years. Is that how long this method usually takes, or how long should it take to clean an oven?

  9. Laura Avatar

    I’m using this now on oven, I also used a little vinegar and a touch of dawn dishwasher liquid as it helps with grease so amazing.also cleaned the pans of the eyes on top of oven.just water on actual plates.but it has been on for 2 hrs and paste was perfect as far as sticking to the oven.I know using dawn may not be “green “exactly but it’s still so much better than oven cleaner.its dry now so I think I will rest for a while and go tackle the clean up! Will post on how it worked.love this site.

  10. Ruth Avatar

    I use baking (bicarb) soda only – heat the oven, or alternatively, do this after you have used the oven. In a heated oven, (heat turned off) place a dish with water and bicarb soda (Just judge the amount, a couple of spoons of bicarb to a dish of water) – leave in the oven until the oven is cold – you can then wipe out the oven – sometimes elbow grease is required, depending on the spills. The oven racks can then be removed and scrubbed. If you also leave the baking dish in the oven, that can be scrubbed too.

  11. Hanna Avatar

    Getting ready to try this and after reading all the comments/responses, am left wondering the same thing as many others (unanswered): How to get the baking soda to “stick” to the top, sides, and racks? Having used baking soda as my “abrasive cleaner” in the tub and sink, I know firsthand that no matter how wet I get the tub, I can’t seem to fling baking soda onto the sides thick enough to matter…I end up using my microfiber cloth or sponge and rubbing the excess from the bottom of the tub up onto the sides. That works for the tub, so is that what I have to do with the oven also? Any solutions out there?

    1. Layla Avatar

      I made it a paste in a bowl, then applied it to the oven with my hand and a rag. It stuck really well. I had a thick layer over every inch of the inside of my oven.

      I just got through cleaning my oven with this method. It took 3 and a half hours:-( I am 31 weeks pregnant. If not for nesting, I SOOOOOO would have just wiped it off and left it nasty. I’m talking no breaks, scrubbing until my hands are raw for 3 and a half hours. My back is killing me from being bent over scrubbing with steel wool for that long. I left mine overnight instead of just a few hours. Maybe that’s where I messed up?

  12. Cristin Avatar

    I’m unsure as to why so many are asking whether this method will work on a gas/electric oven. Heat is heat, no matter the source, and you are not going to be cleaning the surfaces while the oven is on anyway. If you clean the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) well enough (and that’s the point, right?) it won’t matter whether it is gas/electric. Should you NOT clean it well enough, it STILL won’t matter since sodium bicarbonate has been used for years as a fire retardant especially in grease (not Greece) fires. Thanks Wellness Mama…you are the bomb!

  13. Judy Avatar

    Will this work on the top of the oven where the element is,as mine has caked on Greece..Thank you..

  14. Eleanor Avatar

    Hi Katie, I’ve been following Wellnessmama for some time now and I’d just like to say thank you for all of the tips!

    I tried cleaning with baking soda but just couldn’t get all that hard stuff off! I’m in the UK and when I looked around for a oven cleaner I noticed that Ovenu say that they are only using natural methods too which I was quite surprised by as I thought they would just be using horrible caustic soda or something.

    I’ve not used them yet but I’d prefer to get someone else to do the scrubbing or am I just being too lazy LOL

    What’s your take on using the pro’s who say they are natural and green or shall I shall just stick it out and persevere?

    Eleanor 🙂

  15. Nat Avatar

    I can’t wait to try this. Im a cleaner and the canned stuff just doesn’t do it properly and is not good for me all the time! My tip:
    An easy way to make your glass and racks spotless….i use a magic eraser!!!

  16. William Ginwright Avatar
    William Ginwright

    For the side and racks will the baking soda stick yo the sides, how about the racks.

  17. Liz Avatar

    Thank you so much for this cleaning tip!!! I used it today on my stove top. It had gotten so nasty around the burners. I thought there was no way to get the disgusting brown/black mess off that had been accumulating for years (gross I know!). Then I found your post. Baking soda, water, and elbow grease got my stove top completely back to all white. Couldn’t believe it! Thank you again!!!

  18. Anita Avatar

    Hi

    I clean my microwave and oven with water and lemon juice.
    I put a cereal bowl of hot water into the microwave with 1/4- 1/2 cup of lemon juice and set it up for highest setting for 7-10 minutes until it boils and steam. Then wearing oven glove I wipe steam of microwave with paper towel. cleans great.
    The similar technique I use for oven, big bowl of water with lemon juice, set up max degrees and leave it for boiling. it is great to kill smells as well.

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