7 Simple Steps to Clean Your Oven in No Time

Lydia Schapiro
Written by Lydia Schapiro
Reviewed by Asya Biddle
Updated March 8, 2022
Friends cooking dinner in the oven
Photo: FG Trade / E+ / Getty Images

Don’t let a dirty oven sully your cooking

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Difficulty: 2/5 - Saturday skill builder

Time to complete: 1.5 days

Although it’s certainly no one’s favorite task, cleaning your oven will not only improve your kitchen aesthetic, but it’ll increase efficiency. When dirt and burnt food accumulates, the oven heating coils may become damaged, causing the oven to run less efficiently. 

With simple common households like baking soda and vinegar, you can effectively clean your oven and say goodbye to that gunky, grimy, burnt food-ridden mess.

What You’ll Need:

  • Paper towels or old cloth

  • Dustpan or bin

  • Baking soda (or ammonia)

  • Bowl or large cup

  • Rubber gloves or sponge

  • Dish soap

  • Spatula

Cleaning the Oven in 7 Steps

1. Prep to Clean the Oven

To minimize the chance of any accidents, turn off your oven and ensure it’s cool before you get started. In addition, take out your oven racks to make the job easier, and remove any other bakeware that may be in the oven, such as thermometers, pans, and baking sheets.

2. Remove Excess Food and Dirt

Use a paper towel or old cloth to remove any little bits of food, dirt, and debris. Often, this kind of gunk can accumulate over time in your oven. Wipe them into a dustpan or bin. Doing this pre-emptively will reduce the cleaning you’ll do later.

3. Create a Paste With Baking Soda and Water

Baking soda is a great kitchen item to have when cleaning your oven. Your cleaning paste solution can literally consist of just two ingredients: baking soda and water. If you don’t have baking soda, ammonia is a good alternative. 

In a bowl or large cup, combine 1/2 cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water. Mix the blend until it becomes a paste you can spread.

4. Apply the Paste to the Oven

A woman’s hand applying paste on the oven
Photo: Pixel-Shot / Adobe Stock

Once the paste is spreadable, it's time to get down and dirty. Put on rubber gloves and spread the paste with your hands for the most efficient method. You can also opt for a sponge. Aim to get the paste all over the entire interior portion of the oven. If you need more paste to cover the oven, double your recipe. 

5. Let the Oven Sit Overnight 

You’re almost there! After you spread the paste all over, you just need to wait it out to let the solution break down the debris. Close the oven door, and let the oven sit in the baking soda paste overnight—or for at least 12 hours. This is the most beneficial step in oven cleaning

Note: As the paste sits, it'll probably turn brown due to the aluminum oxidizing, which is essentially just a chemical process that occurs between metal and oxygen. 

6. Clean the Oven Racks

If you want to maximize efficiency, consider cleaning the oven racks during this time. 

Soak the racks in hot water for at least two hours. You can use the sink if it's big enough, but a bathtub is also a great option. After they soak, scrub them with soap, and rinse the racks before inserting them back into the oven. 

7. Wipe Off the Paste

Using a damp rag, wipe off as much of the baking soda paste as you can. If there’s still residual paste left after, try using a spatula to help loosen and remove the debris. This is a particularly useful tool for getting to hard-to-reach areas.

DIY Cleaning Your Oven vs. Hiring a Pro

Cleaning your oven is a doable homeowner DIY task that’ll save you some costs. So if you can, it’s ideal to go about this task yourself. 

But on the flip side, maybe you're hosting an important event and you don't have time to clean or you're preparing to sell your home. Either way, hiring a pro can help ease your stress and reduce the weight on your shoulders. For really messy situations, save yourself the headache and schedule a professional deep cleaning with a local house cleaning service.

​​"Cleaning appliances is a tedious and long process,” says Asya Biddle, Angi Expert Review Board member and manager of The Dust Busters janitorial company in Williamsport, PA. “Every homeowner needs to weigh the cost versus time benefit of DIY to hiring a pro." 

Additional Questions

Is there an alternative cleaning solution to baking soda?

Another fantastic kitchen cleaning tool is white vinegar. Similar to baking soda, vinegar can work cleaning wonders at home. 

The easiest way to apply white vinegar to the oven is using a spray bottle. But if you don’t have one, apply the white vinegar to a cloth or paper towel, then spray or rub your vinegar all over the interior parts of the oven. This will aid in removing any residue. 

Can I use the baking soda paste as a cleaning solution for all types of ovens?

The baking soda paste is superb since it works on all ovens (self-cleaning, electric, gas, etc.). But if you have a gas oven, don’t apply the paste to the heating elements and where the gas comes through. These are precautionary steps you can take to avoid causing your oven to malfunction. 

How often should I clean my oven?

It depends on factors like how often you use your oven and how much burnt food there is. In general, a good rule of thumb is to clean your oven every three months.

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