From overflowing pans of lasagna to sticky fingerprints on handles, and all manner of drips and spills, ovens are susceptible to a host of messes and baked-on grime. Learn how to clean an oven and get three clever tips to help you keep it that way. Plus, we'll show you how to clean your oven naturally, too!

By Alicia Chilton
Updated February 26, 2019
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Honestly, we'd rather be using our oven than cleaning it. But building grime and telltale smoke both signal something must be done, so we've come up with the best ways to clean your oven. Follow these tricks and tips for giving your oven a safe and nontoxic deep-clean from top to bottom. Plus, if you’re looking to find out how to clean an oven with natural products, look to the hardworking duo of vinegar and baking soda. (After you clean your oven with vinegar, put the power cleaner to work all around the house!)

A spill or overflowing dish will require a deeper clean. But regular, routine oven maintenance and cleaning is also a must. Follow our smart tricks for how to clean an oven during your regular cleaning schedule, which will help build in more time between deep cleans.

How to Clean an Oven Naturally

If you’re hesitant to use your oven’s self-cleaning feature (more on that later), turn to common household items for a natural way to clean your oven. You can also make the job easier by using the oven's greatest skill to your advantage with this oven cleaning hack. "Place a pan of water in the oven, and turn it up to 225 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 15 minutes," says Kris Koenig, CEO of Natura Clean. When it's cool enough, add some dishwashing soap to the pan of water, then use it and a nylon sponge or nonscratch wool pad to scrub the loosened-up muck as well as the entire oven interior.

How to Clean an Oven with Baking Soda and Vinegar

You can also use natural cleaning methods to eliminate burned-on stains and tough spots. Learn how to clean an oven with vinegar and baking soda to conquer those baked-on messes.

If baked-on food remains on the oven floor, sprinkle it with baking soda. For the sides of the oven, first mix the baking soda with water to form a paste that you can paint onto the problem areas. "Spray it with white distilled vinegar, and watch the mixture foam as it works," says Leslie Reichert, known as the The Cleaning Coach. For maximum effect, let the solution sit overnight. Remove it all the next day with a warm, wet rag.

How to Clean Oven Racks

Cleaning oven racks starts with an overnight soak and a good scrubbing. Remove oven racks and soak them in hot, soapy water in your bathtub or a large container overnight. If they fit in your sink, you can also leave them there. However, if you use the tub, lay down towels first to prevent damage.

Scrub the racks with a brush or abrasive pad, then rinse clean. To clean oven racks naturally, you can again use baking soda and vinegar to bust through grease. Place racks in a large container, sprinkle with baking soda and spray with vinegar. After the mixture is done foaming, fill the container with water and let the racks soak overnight. After soaking, wipe and scrub the racks, dry, and place back in the oven.

How to Clean the Oven Window

Not only are the racks and oven interior magnets for grime, the oven glass door also sees its share of splatters and grime. Getting it in like-new condition is easy if you know how to clean a glass oven door. The trick to cleaning the inside of the oven window, according to Grant Pettegrew of Certain Service Housekeeping, is to use a razor blade. Coat the window in all-purpose spray cleaner, let it sit, then carefully scrape away pesky burn marks and food debris. For serious stains, you can also apply a paste of baking soda and water, let it sit over night, then wipe clean with a warm, damp rag.

Routine Oven Cleaning

Clean spills and dribbles as soon as the oven's cool enough to do so. MyClean COO Kenny Schultz recommends working a quick oven scrub-down, with baking soda and water, into your regular kitchen cleaning routine, too. And don’t forget to clean the oven drawer, which can be a haven for crumbs. Pull out the oven drawer and sweep up any messes or use a hand vacuum to get in all the crevices. A few times each year, pull the oven out from the wall and clean underneath and behind the appliance. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for moving the appliance so you don’t scratch the floor or disconnect the gas line.

Emergency Oven Cleaning with Salt

Whether you’re trying to get a weeknight dinner on the table or prepare a special holiday meal, sometimes you can’t stop what you’re doing to do full spill damage control. When a spill happens and you can’t turn off the oven right away, reach for salt as a natural way to clean an oven.

"When a pie or casserole bubbles over in the oven, put a handful of salt on top of the spill and continue with your baking," says author Donna Chandler in The Hints Book Almanac. "It won't smoke or smell, and it will bake into a crust that will be much easier to clean, once cooled."

Prevent Oven Messes

When you're baking—drip-prone foods, especially—place pans on a baking sheet to catch any drips or place a baking sheet below the pan as you are baking. Consider keeping it there long-term and trading it out when necessary. Do not use aluminum foil to catch spills unless the manufacturer's manual for your appliance allows it.

Cleaning an Oven Exterior

Keep your oven exterior in sparkling condition by wiping up spills as they happen. A damp cloth will often do the trick. Use an all-purpose cleaner to give your oven a routine wipe down.

Stainless-steel appliances are a popular favorite, thanks to their sleek profiles, but they tend to attract more than their fair share of fingerprints and girme. Make your kitchen’s stainless steel appliances —including your oven—sparkle with these tips for cleaning stainless steel appliances and eliminating smudges and fingerprints. Always avoid abrasive cleaners and scrubbers. Use microfiber cloths so you don’t leave any lint behind. Wipe with the grain. You’ll sometimes see recommendations to use rubbing or essential oils on stainless steel. While this trick lends a nice shine, the products shouldn’t be used to clean an oven or other heat-conducting appliances since oils are flammable.

Cleaning a Stove Top

How to clean an oven stove top depends on what type of cooktop you have. In general, wiping up spills as they happen and giving the cooktop a once-over after cooking can prevent a lot of heavy-duty cleaning later.

Cleaning Self-Cleaning Ovens

An oven that cleans itself is brilliant in theory, but such convenience does come with some drawbacks that you should be aware of. Self-cleaning ovens work by using extremely high temperatures to incinerate interior grime. Since this is clearly a potential fire hazard, leaving home isn't recommended. However, incineration creates potentially toxic fumes. Inhaling them isn't recommended, either.

If you choose to use the self-clean feature, follow the manufacturer's instructions for how to clean a self-cleaning oven. Remove all pans, grates, and drawers, and as much of the solid spills and grease as you can, before cleaning. Banish pets and people with respiratory issues from the home, and ventilate well.

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