How to Clean an Oven with Minimal Effort

How to Clean an Oven with Minimal Effort

Cleaning the oven is never top on someone’s list of exciting things to do over the weekend, but sometimes it’s necessary. Especially if you have a spill that covers the bottom of the oven and starts to smoke out the house.

Yep, been there, done that. Just a few weeks ago I posted about how it happened when I was making Salmon with a Bold Soy-Molasses Glaze over Rice and Vegetables. When I turned the oven on and went to open it to put the fish in, white smoke came billowing out. 

We had to open all of the windows (in the brutal Texas summer heat) and turn on the fans for a while to air out the house without setting off the smoke alarms. 

Salmon with Soy-Molasses Glaze over Rice and Vegetables

Needless to say, the oven really needed to be cleaned out. When I looked in there, the bottom wasn’t too bad, but the amount of smoke said otherwise. 

In the last couple of years, we’ve been trying to cut down on the amount of chemicals we use in the house, especially in the kitchen, for cleaning and everything else. There are commercial oven cleaners on the market, but I was worried what that would leave behind that could get into our food.

I started researching some natural cleaners for the oven while it was cooling off that evening (and while Justin was at his parent’s house using their oven to cook dinner!) and found a lot of people suggesting different ways to use baking soda and vinegar. 

Why They Clean

Baking Soda

Baking soda is actually a type of salt and it is a neutral compound with a high PH level, meaning it is basic (not acidic). Because of this, the basic properties of baking soda will absorb acids which is why it works so well to absorb odors rather than just mask them. 

How to Clean an Oven with Minimal Effort


Opposite of baking soda, vinegar is very acidic. Because of it’s high acidity, vinegar can break up sticky messes. Vinegar is also good for getting rids of stains. 

How to Clean an Oven with Minimal Effort

Baking Soda and Vinegar Combination

A very common cleaning combination is to use baking soda and vinegar together. 

Do you remember doing a volcano in school with baking soda and vinegar? That reaction, but on a smaller scale, is why it is so good for cleaning. 

Cleaning the Oven

Ok, now that we have the “why” out of the way, let’s get to the “how” part of this post. When the bottom of the oven is a mess, there are a few options:

  1. Use the self-cleaner
  2. Use a commercial product
  3. Use natural cleaners

I don’t like the self-cleaner because all that does is turn the oven up to an extremely high temperature to burn off everything. Our oven was already smoking at 400F, I can’t imagine how bad it would have been at an even higher temperature. Plus, it’s the middle of the summer and hot, I don’t want the oven to heat up the house more than necessary. And, who wants to smell burning food?

I mentioned earlier, I don’t like to use commercial chemical cleaners because I don’t know what chemicals will linger in the oven and then get infused into our food. 

Knowing these three options, I am left with finding a natural way to clean the oven, which is exactly what I did.

Step 1

Make sure the oven is cool and remove the racks from the oven. Place these in a bathtub to soak in hot water and squirt some dish soap in there. Hint: place a towel on the bottom so they don’t scratch the surface. I also put the grates from the gas stovetop in there to clean, too. 

Step 2

Mix baking soda with a few drops of lemon essential oil or lemon juice until it becomes a paste. Spread the paste out on the bottom of the oven and around the sides as needed. Make sure to concentrate on the areas that are the worst.

Step 3

Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spray it on the baking soda until it fizzes and bubbles. 

How to Clean an Oven with Minimal Effort

Step 4

Let the baking soda and vinegar sit for a few hours or overnight. Since this happened to me at dinner time, I let this sit overnight and cleaned it out in the morning. 

Step 5

While the reaction is happening inside the oven, use a scrub brush on the racks and grates in the tub to try to clean anything off of them. Then take them out and place on a towel to allow them to dry.

Step 6

After the mixture in the oven has had time to set, use a scrub brush and work on the grime stuck to the bottom. For me, this didn’t take a lot of hard scrubbing, just time to get the entire thing. 

How to Clean an Oven with Minimal Effort

Step 7

Use a wet rag or wet-dry vacuum to remove the baking soda and vinegar from the oven. I used a wet rag and had a large bowl right there to dump the bits in and keep going.

I had to clean the rag out a few times, but I didn’t feel like getting the vacuum from the garage then having to clean that our later. 

Step 8

If the oven is really bad, you may have to do this once more. If not, go ahead and replace the racks and marvel at your clean oven!

How to Clean an Oven with Minimal Effort
How to Clean an Oven with Minimal Effort

Now, if only I could figure out a way to clean the glass. No matter what I do, that is always a mess! At this point, I think it’s either burned into it or somehow between the double-panes.

How to Clean an Oven with Minimal Effort

14 thoughts on “How to Clean an Oven with Minimal Effort”

  1. Cleaning the oven is definitely not one of my favorite tasks, so it usually gets to the point where you were at before I do it. Using a natural cleaner is my preference as well, so I am going to try this method next time!

  2. I love that I came across this post as I plan on cleaning my oven this weekend! Definitely going to try it this way!

  3. Patricia Chamberlain

    Cleaning the oven is probably my least favorite household chore. I love using natural things to clean, so I will be trying this method!

  4. I usually don’t mind (and even sometimes even enjoy) cleaning the house, but the oven and microwave are the worst for me! I’m going to try this. I use vinegar around the house for others things, never thought to use it for the oven. Thanks!

  5. I really need to clean my oven. Like you, it normally takes some sort of smoke coming out of it before I even bother, mostly because I hate the smell of the oven cleaners. I can’t wait to try the baking soda and vinegar method!

  6. Well, this is a job I never liked and I try to avoid but sometimes it needs to be done. Using vinegar and soda make the process easier, I have heard this method before, I think now it’s time to try it!

  7. Omg this post is indeed life savior and such a detailed one. I have always struggled with cleaning my oven and last time we moved, I couldn’t figure out how to clean this well and we ended up paying a huge amount of fine. And just by using these simple and easy ingredients is the best part.

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