How to Clean an Oven Without Smelly Chemicals

How to clean oven

This article was written by a Top TIDY Homekeeper Anna M.

When was the last time you cleaned your oven? If you're like me, you may feel like avoiding that question. Most people don't look forward to the messy, often smelly job of cleaning the oven. I don't think you'll find a way to clean an oven without elbow grease. You can get the job done without smoking out your house or using smelly oven cleaning chemicals. Set aside some time, roll up your sleeves and cross this chore off your to-do list.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

For this project, you'll need a few supplies you probably have in your house already. They are:

  • Paper towels 
  • Old sponges
  • Steel wool pad 
  • White vinegar (which has a variety of uses in the home)
  • Large cake pan (metal or glass is fine) 
  • Dishwashing liquid 
  • Paint spatula or putty knife 
  • Rubber gloves are optional
  • Baking soda is optional and can help remove stubborn stains

Step 2: Wipe Out the Oven

Use the paper towels to wipe out any dry or flaky gunk from the floor and sides of the oven. You can also use the putty knife to gently loosen any larger chunks that look like they'll come off easily. 

Step 3: Soften the Remaining Grease

Fill your cake pan about halfway with water, and then add a cup or two of vinegar. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake for about one hour with the cake pan on the middle rack. The vinegar will begin to soften the grease and grime left on the walls and floor of the oven. After an hour, turn off the oven but keep the door shut while it cools down. This process could take 30 to 60 minutes.

Step 4: Using Your Elbow Grease

Once the oven is cooled enough for you to work comfortably and safely, you can start scraping and scrubbing that grime away. Remove the pan of vinegar water and the oven racks. I like to soak the racks in the sink because my kitchen sink is large enough. If your sink is small, just set the racks aside. You will probably need to go back and forth between the steel wool pad, the putty knife, and a sponge to remove everything. Baking soda can help as a gritty agent to buff out stains on the oven's door or floor. Use clear water to rinse the oven well, and dry it completely with paper towels.

Step 5: Clean the Oven Racks

Your racks have most likely been soaking; now is the time to start scrubbing them down. If you weren't able to soak them before, you could now put them in the bathtub. Remember to line the tub with an old towel first to avoid scratching the finish. Be careful! A third option is to use your outdoor hose to spray them down. Once you get them as clean as possible, go ahead and put them back in your clean, fresh oven.

Step 6: Keep Your Oven Clean

Congratulations! Your oven is clean. Do your best to keep it that way, which will help you avoid a scrubbing marathon several months or a year from now. Line the oven racks with foil if you are cooking something that you think might overflow. Also, line the rack if you are cooking sweet potatoes or other "drippy" foods in the oven. I do my best to wipe out spills as soon as my oven cools down.

Cleaning your oven might feel overwhelming. Just set aside a few hours for getting the job done so you can go back to baking.