Oven Cleaners on Kitchen Countertops: Is It Safe to Use?

Lydia Schapiro
Written by Lydia Schapiro
Updated February 18, 2022
Father and daughter cleaning kitchen
Photo: Stone/Getty Images


  • Oven cleaners can be harmful to countertops since they usually contain lye or sodium hydroxide.

  • Cleaning kitchen countertops with oven cleaners may produce discoloration or structural damage.

  • Use warm, soapy water to clean most kitchen countertops.

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Have you ever majorly needed to clean your kitchen countertops, only to realize you’re fresh out of your favorite all-purpose cleaner? Maybe you grabbed what you thought was the next best thing: the oven cleaner. This is a mistake—but one that you can learn from.

Use this guide to understand why and how oven cleaners can damage kitchen countertops and what you should use instead. 

Why Are Oven Cleaners Damaging to Kitchen Countertops?

To some homeowners’ surprise, an oven cleaner can cause extensive damage to your kitchen countertops. The main reason for this is that most oven cleaners contain lye or sodium hydroxide, a harsh chemical.

Oven cleaners can eat away and ultimately remove the protective finish on your countertop. As a result, this not only will change its appearance but will weaken its construction. Once the finish is damaged, your countertop will be more vulnerable to facing damage from stains and food debris.

How Oven Cleaner Affects Different Types of Countertops

The extent and type of damage that an oven cleaner can cause depends on your specific kitchen countertop material. 

Granite Countertop

If you use an oven cleaner to clean a granite countertop, it’ll likely get damaged. Often, your countertop will lose its color, damage that may become irreparable. Although it may withstand damage initially, if you repeatedly use an oven cleaner on granite, the finish will break down and result in discoloration and spotting. 

Wood Countertop

Wood countertops are one of the more vulnerable types of countertops since they can decay more easily than other materials. When you use an oven cleaner on a wooden countertop, it may lose its varnish or painted top coat. A wooden countertop may also become softer as a result of absorbing the chemical. And consequently, it’ll be more prone to losing its structural foundation. 

The damage to wood countertops may also cause permanent stains and holes in the finish. These holes can make it easier for bacteria to grow within the countertop.

Steel Countertop

Usually, cleaning steel with an oven cleaner will result in stains on your countertop. This is a result of the reaction between lye and steel, and the discoloration may be permanent. 

Quartz Countertop

Using an oven cleaner on a quartz countertop will damage the pigments that make up the countertop’s surface. As a result, this can cause discoloration. In addition, using an oven cleaner on a quartz countertop can leave stains, blotches, and streaks. 

Health Risks of Using an Oven Cleaner

It’s also important to recognize how using an oven cleaner can cause health risks. Luckily, there are preventive measures to ensure you’re doing everything you can to avoid these health risks. Since many oven cleaners contain sodium hydroxide or lye—which can irritate your skin–it’s essential to take protective measures before use. 

According to the National Capital Poison Center, exposure to oven cleaners can cause chemical burns or skin irritation. Accidentally swallowing oven cleaner residue can cause vomiting and mouth burns. When using an oven cleaner, protect yourself by wearing latex gloves and goggles or safety glasses. 

After you’re done, wipe off all residue and rinse the area with a 1-to-1 solution of vinegar and water.

Best Way to Clean Kitchen Countertops

Hands cleaning countertop
Credit: Julio Ricco/Adobe Stock

Instead of using a harsh chemical cleaning product, opt for something more gentle. 

You can use dish soap and warm water for countertops made of wood, marble, granite, quartz, and steel. Use a microfiber or regular cloth and apply a small amount of the mixture to your countertops. If you want to be extra vigilant, you can use a combination of warm water and white vinegar. 

For laminate and soapstone countertops, you can use something a bit stronger. For instance, you can use a multipurpose cleaning product and apply it with a cloth. 

If you need to remove stains on countertops, combine 3 parts baking soda with 1 part water. Apply your mixture to the stain(s), let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe it dry.

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