Folks who own an oven (i.e., everyone) should be cleaning it. But how often should you clean your oven? And how do you clean an oven anyway? Surprisingly, I don’t have any articles on this yet… until now.
If you have a self-cleaning oven, stop right there. Do not follow this guide. Instead, read How To Clean A Self-Cleaning Oven: 7 Kitchen Cleaning Tips. But if you don’t have a self-cleaning oven, this article will guide you through how to clean an oven and get it spic and span in no time. OK, not like actually no time, but in as little time as possible.
And not only am I going to tell you how to clean an oven, but I’m going to share the best oven cleaner out there. Hint: it’s DIY! So oven crud beware, you’re getting cleaned.
How Often Should You Clean Your Oven?
Cleaning your oven is really a choose-your-own-adventure-type cleaning task because you can dial it up or dial it down as much as you want. And no, I don’t mean your oven dial. I mean, you can put a lot of effort in and go full force, or you can just kind of… squeak by. But the more thorough you are when you clean the oven, the longer you can wait before you have to do it again.
So how often should you clean your oven? Cleaning the oven should happen on a fairly regular basis. I can’t say exactly how often; it depends on how frequently you cook and how frequently you spill.
Deciding when you clean your oven really depends on what the interior looks like. Do a visual inspection to decide if it’s that time. When you notice spills and gunk in your oven, it’s probably time to clean. This foodstuff will bake and bake and bake onto your oven, and eventually cause bad smells and smoke, and can even leave your food tasting a little weird. So clean before this happens.
Oven Cleaning Products and Tools
Before you get to cleaning, let’s talk about what products and tools you’ll need. To clean your oven from top to bottom, you need:
- White vinegar
- Dish soap
- Baking soda
- Bar Keepers Friend
- Paper towel
- Microfiber cloths
- Cleaning scraper (or windshield scraper or old credit card)
- Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Scour Pad
- Old sponge
- Handheld vacuum (or vacuum with a long attachment)
Yep, that’s it! I only use very simple cleaning products and tools to clean the oven. Oven cleaning doesn’t have to be complicated or harsh. You just have to know what you’re doing and have a good plan of attack. And with these simple products, you can make your own DIY oven cleaner.
The Best Oven Cleaner: DIY
After you’ve assembled your products and tools, you’re going to whip up a batch of my DIY oven cleaner. It’s super easy to make, and it’s nontoxic. I’m honestly not very comfortable using strong chemicals. Plus, I don’t want toxic products in the oven where I cook myself and my family’s food. Luckily, I discovered this recipe, and I never looked back.
- 4 parts baking soda
- 1 part dish soap
- 1 part water
Mix everything together in a bowl. You want a nice, thick paste, so feel free to add a little more baking soda to thicken the consistency. This recipe is great because it’s really effective, it’s nontoxic, and it’s way cheaper than harsh, store-bought oven cleaners.
So once you have your oven cleaner made, it’s time to clean that oven.
How to Clean an Oven
OK, you’ve got your products and tools, you’ve made your oven cleaner, it’s time to clean. Aren’t you the most excited you’ve ever been in your life?! Ahem… anyway…
Get started by removing the oven racks and the oven drawer. I have a whole article on How to Clean Oven Racks, so I won’t go over it again here. Then, line the floor around your oven with newspaper to avoid getting the floor dirty and making extra work for yourself.
Go in with your scraping tool first, and scrape off as much as possible. This will make it easier on yourself later. Use your paper towel to remove debris you scrape off. When you’re finished, take your old sponge and use it to apply your cleaning solution over the whole oven. Cover every part, including the sides, the door, and in the corners.
Be really careful not to get product into fans if you have a convection oven, or any of the burners and coils and heating elements that are inside your oven. Work your way around all these elements carefully.
That cleaning solution needs to sit for 30 minutes, so while you wait, use a handheld vacuum to vacuum the space where the oven drawer was. I found a huge spider web under my oven when I did this! Then face your oven drawer. Use a paper towel to wipe out dust and debris, and give the whole drawer a good wipe with a sponge and some dish soap. Finally, take a wet microfiber cloth and wash all the soap out of the drawer and set it aside to dry.
Now back to the oven. A little pro tip here, put a towel down you can lean on so your knees don’t get sore. After 30 minutes have passed, fill a bowl with water and wet your scour pad. Use the pad to scrub your whole oven, dipping it into the bowl of water as you go. This will save you from having to get up and down as you clean.
You’ll probably need to go back and forth between your scraping tool and scour pad, making sure to get the sides, the back, and the bottom as well. But the cleaning solution should have loosened all the stuck-on gunk. If you have some really stubborn spots, you can always pull out the big guns: steel wool.
When you’re finished, use a wet microfiber cloth to rinse the inside of the oven. Make sure you’re thorough with this step because baking soda leaves a residue if you don’t rinse it off. Finally, grab another microfiber cloth and wet it with some vinegar. Then wipe your oven down one last time. The vinegar works to tackle any residual grease and polish things up in there.
The next step is cleaning the oven window. That space in between the two glass panes is truly a pain. You can’t really clean in between them without actually taking the door apart. And if you take the door apart, you may end up voiding your warranty, so I don’t recommend it. Just leave it and be thankful you have one less thing to clean.
To clean the interior oven window, you will probably need a more powerful product than your DIY cleaning solution. This is where Bar Keepers Friend comes in. Sprinkle a little water onto the interior oven window, and then sprinkle Bar Keepers Friend on top. Use your scour pad to scrub the window. It will take some elbow grease, but you’ll get there. Once again, use a microfiber cloth dipped in water to rinse it all off.
How to Clean an Oven
Phew, I’m beat. Cleaning the oven is a big job, and it’s a dirty job. It requires a lot of elbow grease and a chunk of time. But avoiding strange smells and flavors in your food, not to mention smoke billowing from your oven when you cook, is definitely worth it.
If you have any oven cleaning techniques I didn’t cover here, please leave them in the comments below. And let us know how often you clean your oven. I usually clean mine three to four times a year, and often before holidays if I’ll be making a big roast and I don’t want a dirty oven to ruin my hard work. And if you have a toaster oven, read How to Clean A Toaster (Pop Up & Oven).