Clean An Oven

4 Steps to Clean an Oven Thoroughly—Plus, How Often You Should Clean It

Ovens are one of those kitchen appliances that can quickly turn into a food-related crime scene. There are steak drippings in a sludgy pool at the bottom, a stray french fry that fell through the rack and turned into pure carbon, and a greasy film on the glass that has kept you from looking into the oven for months.

Don’t know how to clean an oven or even where to start? It might seem like a lot of work, but the result will be a sparkling clean oven and food that tastes better. Deep cleaning an oven doesn’t have to be as scary as you might think. Here’s everything you need to know about how to clean an oven, from how to clean it with the touch of a button to how to clean it with mixtures that melt away grease.

How often should Clean an Oven?

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Paul Bristow, the executive director of built-in cooking at GE Appliances, says that you should clean your oven at least every three to six months, or more often if you need to. It’s also a good idea to do spot cleaning a few times a month. The easier it is to clean your oven, the more you take care of it. A clean oven not only makes cleaning easier but also makes food taste better and spreads fewer germs.

1. How to Clean the Oven’s Interior

Use the feature that cleans itself.

Many modern ovens have a feature that cleans them on their own, which almost sounds too good to be true. Bristow says that the self-clean cycle is a time-saving feature. “The oven is heated to about 880 degrees Fahrenheit during the cleaning cycle. At this temperature, food in the oven burns, leaving behind a small amount of ash. The ash that is left behind is easy to clean up with a damp cloth.”

Bristow says that the easiest way to clean an oven is by far to let it clean itself. It’s also one of the best ways to clean an oven if you don’t want to use chemical cleaners or even make your own. The biggest problem is that your oven stays locked for three to five hours and gives off a lot of heat, which isn’t good in the summer. It can also make a bad smell, so you and your pets shouldn’t be in the kitchen while it’s happening.

You should also remember a few things about self-cleaning ovens. “No commercial oven cleaner or oven liner should be used in or around a self-cleaning oven because it will damage the enamel coating. Also, depending on the type of oven you have, you may need to take out the pans and racks “Bristow says so. “Finally, whether you use the self-clean or steam-clean cycles or clean the oven by hand, you should always wait until the oven has cooled down to room temperature before wiping out the inside.”

Bristow says that you may need to use your oven’s self-cleaning feature more than once to get rid of grease and stains that have baked-on, and it may take some effort to wipe away the residue.

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Use an oven cleaner from the store.

Even though your oven’s self-clean cycle does a pretty good job of getting rid of baked-on grease and other grime, there are a few other things you can do. One option is to buy a chemical cleaner like Easy-Off Professional Fume Free Max Oven Cleaner, which costs $5.45 and can be found on Amazon.com. After taking out any big pieces of food that are loose, spray the oven with the cleaner of your choice and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Grime and grease are easy to wipe away because the cleaner lifts them.

Because the chemicals are strong, it’s best to open the windows and wear gloves and a face mask when cleaning the oven.

Make an oven cleaner yourself.

If you don’t have an oven cleaner, you can use baking soda, vinegar, and water to make a natural cleaner for your oven.

“We say to skip the chemical oven cleaners and use something safe and easy that still works great. Baking soda and water make a great cleaner for your oven that you can make at home. The baking soda acts as a scrubber, and the water softens baked-on crud and loosens food particles “Jessica Samson, a spokeswoman for The Maids, says this. “Make a paste and spread it all over the inside of the oven. Wait at least 20 minutes, but ideally longer, for the paste to break down the burned food.”

You can also add a little vinegar to your mixture of baking soda and water to make it even better at cleaning. Just spray the vinegar on top and wait 20 minutes for it to bubble and set up. Next, gently scrub all surfaces with a non-abrasive pad like a Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scour Pad ($2; amazon.com) or a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser ($8; amazon.com), and then wipe everything down with a damp microfiber cloth.

2. How to Clean the Racks in the Oven

Take the racks off and soak them.

Ron Shimek, president of Mr. Appliance, says that the best way to clean metal oven racks is to take them out of the oven and soak them in boiling water with a little dishwasher detergent. This works for any type of oven. “You can soak oven racks in the bathtub, but you may need to clean the tub afterward. After soaking for two hours, use a stiff brush to clean the racks, rinse them, and let them dry before putting them back in the oven.”

Add baking soda to spots that are hard to get rid of.

You can also use a spray made of baking soda, water, and vinegar instead of boiling water. The trick is to let it sit long enough for the ingredients to do their thing so that you don’t have to scrub as much.

For porcelain racks, use the feature that cleans itself.

Bristow says that if your oven racks are made of porcelain instead of metal, you can leave them in the oven while it cleans itself. He also says that, if you’re lucky, your oven may have a steam-cleaning feature that makes it easy to clean up small food spills on the racks. This cycle needs a lot less heat than self-cleaning usually does.

“Steam clean doesn’t use chemicals, so regular pans and racks can stay in the oven while it’s being cleaned,” says Bristow. “It should be used more often than self-clean to keep tough stains from getting baked on.”

3. Cleaning Oven Knobs

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To clean knobs, use a microfiber cloth.

A damp microfiber cloth can be used to clean the knobs and the area around them. If the job calls for it, use a rag with a little soap on it or a wipe that you can throw away.

Try not to spray right on the knobs.

Shimek says not to spray a household cleaner right on the oven knobs. “The liquid could get behind the knobs and switches and cause the control panel to short out,” he says. “Instead, spray a rag with liquid cleaner and rub the controls to keep them from shorting.”

4. How to Clean the Glass Doors of an Oven

Make a paste with baking soda and use it.

The glass door of your oven needs to be handled more carefully than the racks because glass is easier to scratch. That means you shouldn’t use abrasive products and should scrub with less force.

“Mix baking soda and water to make a thick paste. Use this paste to clean the glass on your oven door without scratching it. Spread a lot of the paste on the glass and let it sit for 20 minutes or more “says Samson. “Then, wipe the paste off gently with a microfiber cloth, rinse it well with water, and buff it dry to make it shine like new.”

Use glass cleaner to clean the glass.

You can also spray it with soapy water or an oven cleaner. To finish the job, use a regular glass cleaner or a bit of vinegar that has been diluted with a soft cloth to make the glass shine even more.

Clear away dust and dirt from places that are hard to see.

The glass door of an oven is sometimes made of two pieces of glass, which can cause crumbs, dust, or grease streaks to build up over time. This is easy to clean, but there are a few extra steps you need to take.

First, open the door and rest it on your leg for support. Then, unscrew the screws along the top of the door. (You can keep the door from falling and breaking if you let it rest on your legs.) Once you take off the screws, you can get to the layers in the middle of the oven. Use a vacuum hose with a small tip to clean up dust and crumbs. Use a wet sponge with a long handle to get rid of grease. Bristow also suggests using a yardstick with a damp washcloth tied to it.