How to Clean an Oven: A Step-by-Step Guide

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Reviewed by Asya Biddle
Updated September 23, 2022
Friends cooking dinner in the oven
Photo: FG Trade / E+ / Getty Images

You don’t need a lot of supplies or elbow grease to get your oven sparkling

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It’s easy to shut your oven door and forget about it, but that build-up of crumbs, grease, and other burnt remnants can become a seriously stuck-on mess. Before you know it, the smoke detector is going off, your cookies have a funky flavor, and one look inside your oven makes you grimace in horror. 

While it’s nobody’s favorite chore, you’ll do your oven (and your future self) a big favor by keeping it clean. Here’s how to clean an oven so it stays smoke- and grime-free.

Why is It Important to Clean Your Oven?

Aside from the “ick” factor, a dirty oven can be a fire hazard in the kitchen. An oven filled with grime and debris has a higher risk of catching fire than a clean oven. It also generates smoke and fumes, so learning how to clean an oven effectively is important. 

How to Prep for Cleaning the Inside of Your Oven

Scrubbing out an oven can seem like a major task, but the right supplies can make it much easier. Commercial oven-cleaning spray is always an option, but if you don’t have that on hand, you can clean it with baking soda and vinegar. These two ingredients react with one another, helping to loosen baked-on messes so you can simply wipe them away—no major elbow grease required.

For your tools, you can use a clean cloth or sponge to wipe out the oven. Avoid using steel wool, scouring pads, or anything else abrasive on your oven’s interior, as these can scratch the metal surfaces. 

How to Clean Inside of the Oven

If you’re wondering how to clean an oven, let your supplies work for you. The chemical reaction of baking soda and vinegar does the heavy lifting for this DIY solution. 

1. Turn Off the Oven

Turn off your oven and ensure it’s fully cooled before you get started. 

2. Empty the Oven and Scrub the Oven Racks

Next, take your oven racks, bakeware, and any other objects out of the oven. Place the oven racks in hot, soapy water to soak for at least two hours. Then, scrub them clean and rinse. If your oven racks won’t fit in the sink, consider placing them in a bathtub so they’re fully submerged in the suds.

3. Remove Large Pieces of Food and Debris

Unfortunately, there are likely crispy bits of food debris left over from past meals inside your oven. Use a paper towel to remove any bits of food and debris from the oven.

4. Make a Baking Soda Paste

Now, it’s Combine about ½ cup of baking soda with small amounts of water, stirring until it becomes a paste.

5. Spread the Baking Soda Paste Around the Inside of the Oven

Don rubber gloves and spread the baking soda paste all around the oven’s interior with your hands. You can also opt for a sponge.

6. Let It Sit Overnight

Close the oven door and let the baking soda paste sit overnight or for at least 12 hours.

7. Spray the Inside of the Oven With Vinegar

After letting the baking soda sink into every inch of the oven overnight, spray distilled white vinegar on the baking soda paste and allow it to foam up. 

8. Wipe the Oven’s Interior 

Wipe down the oven’s interior with a clean, damp cloth or sponge. Repeat this step until there isn’t any baking soda and vinegar residue left in the oven.

9. Scrape Away Any Stuck-On Messes

Sometimes stubborn stuck-on messes can stick around, even when the other elements of the oven are clean. Carefully use a razor blade or other sharp tool to remove any stubborn burnt food, if necessary. 

Tips For Keeping Your Oven Clean

Now that the inside of your oven is squeaky clean, let’s review some tips to keep it that way.

  • Line the bottom of your oven with tin foil to catch stray drips and crumbs.

  • Avoid placing food directly on your oven racks to cook.

  • Wipe up spills and splatters as soon as they happen.

  • Maintain a kitchen cleaning checklist to help you remember to clean the oven consistently. 

DIY Oven Cleaning vs. Hire a Pro

Cleaning your oven can be a pain, especially if you’ve been putting it off. If you're pressed for time (or willpower), hiring a local house cleaning service can help ease your stress and get your oven sparkling in no time. 

​​"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."

Frequently Asked Questions

Whether your oven is greasy or filled with burnt residue, combining vinegar and baking soda will take care of the job. Use vinegar to clean any leftover mess.

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