How to Clean an Oven When “Self-Clean” Isn’t Good Enough

When the baking gets tough, here are four genius ways to help you learn how to clean an oven. Grab your rubber gloves!

Woman hands in protective gloves cleaning oven with ragPhoto: Shutterstock / Africa Studio
Photo: Shutterstock / Africa Studio

Wiping down countertops and scrubbing dirty dishes may feel like second nature, but it’s easy to forget to clean your oven. It’s OK; it happens to us, too. (Wondering what else you’re forgetting to clean? Get the list here.) But because a dirty oven takes longer to preheat and can cause dangerous grease fires, it’s important to get into the habit of regularly cleaning yours.

How to Clean an Oven

Sometimes, an oven’s self-cleaning mode (that’s when it uses high temps or steam to burn off food remnants) is enough. Other times, you’ll need to call in reinforcements. When the going gets tough, these cleaning options will have your oven looking brand-spankin’ new.

Method 1: Clean Your Oven with Citrus

When life gives you lemons, use them to clean the oven.

Let us explain. Lemons and other citrus oils are natural degreasers, so they loosen up baked-on food particles. For a quick (and virtually effortless) way to clean your oven, add the juice of two lemons and 1/3 cup water to a baking dish, place it in the oven, and bake at 250º for 30 minutes. When heated, the lemons will emit vapors that can loosen up stubborn food stains. Once the oven has cooled down, remove any additional remnants with a scrub pad or firm spatula.

Method 2: Use Soap and Water

Your oven isn’t filthy, but it’s by no means as spotless as you’d like. To get rid of small splotches and stains, wipe down the interior with a scrub pad soaked in warm water and dish soap. Once you’re done, pat the inside dry with a paper towel. It’ll require some elbow grease, but it’ll be well worth it once you’re chowing down on one of these amazing casseroles.

Method 3: Enlist Some Baking Soda

Baking soda can do a lot more than give cookies a lift. In fact, the household staple does a great job removing stains from grout, cleaning grit from the slow cooker and even tackling oven stains. For best results, make a thin paste of 3/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup warm water. Remove oven racks, then coat the inside with the paste and leave it on overnight. In the morning, scrape off the paste, wipe out the oven with a damp towel and voila—a pristine oven.

Cleaning the rest of your house? Here are 50 genius ways to clean with baking soda.

Method 4: If All Else Fails, Add Vinegar

Whether you’re whipping up a five-course meal or have never formally cleaned your oven (hey, we’re not judging), your oven is in need of a deep clean, stat. If the baking soda method above doesn’t get the job done, spritz some vinegar on the paste before wiping it off. When baking soda (a base) and vinegar (an acid) are combined, the mixture fizzes up and works wonders on tough stains.

See what else you can clean with vinegar.

As for the Rest of Your Range?

The inside of your oven isn’t the only place that needs some TLC. Here’s how to clean the whole range.

  • Stovetop: Wiping down your stovetop with a damp paper towel or sponge will get rid of fresh grease splatters and sauce spills, but if you want to tackle those stubborn, burnt food particles, place a hot, wet towel on the area for a few minutes, then scrape off stuck-on food with a firm spatula.
  • Burner grates: While you’re cleaning the stovetop, submerge the knobs and burner grates in a sink full of warm, soapy water. For a heavy-duty clean, throw in some kosher salt and baking soda, too.
  • Hood filters: The purpose of your oven’s hood filters is to collect grease, so it’s likely they’re in need of a good clean. Luckily, washing them is a total breeze. Once you pop ’em out of the hood, place the filters in a sink full of scalding hot water, a few drops of dish soap and 1/4 cup of baking soda, and leave them for 10 minutes. Next, use a non-abrasive scrub brush on those hard-to-clean stains. After rinsing the suds away, wait until the filters are completely dry before reinserting them (or else you’ll risk getting electrocuted!). For the outside of the hood, simply wipe it down with an all-purpose cleaner.

Now that your oven is clean, it’s time to get it dirty all over again! For some food inspiration, here are some delicious baking recipes you need to try.

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Kelsey Mulvey
Kelsey Mulvey is a freelance writer and editor based in New York. Her hobbies include wine, nachos and the occasional hibachi dinner.