How To Clean Your Oven Without Scrubbing

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Quickly clean your greasy oven with only a few minutes of effort and no scrubbing. All you need are a couple of kitchen ingredients and some waiting time.

Woman using a damp cloth to clean an oven rack without scrubbing

Cleaning the oven will never be a fun household task, but it doesn’t have to involve a lot of effort, harsh chemicals, or scrubbing. Whether you use the self-cleaning function or not, you can get your oven clean naturally without scrubbing and keep it that way without a lot of effort. 

How to Clean Your Oven Without Oven Cleaner

This easy, overnight method works even on crusty, messy ovens. You just need a bit of elbow grease and a few common kitchen ingredients.

Supplies You’ll Need

  • Baking soda (bicarbonate)
  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Small bowl
  • Sponge, rag, or paper towels

Step 1: Pre-Clean

Remove the racks and soak them as described further down. Then, use a wet rag to wipe your oven’s floor. If you need to scrape or pry up any burned-on bits, use a non-metal spatula.

Step 2: Use Homemade Oven Cleaner

To make homemade oven cleaner, combine 1/2 cup baking soda with 1/3 cup water in a small bowl. Add more water as needed to create a spreadable paste. Using a sponge or paper towel, apply the DIY mixture to your oven’s interior surfaces, avoiding the heating elements. You can use it on your oven door’s glass, too. Wait at least 2 hours for the cleaner to dissolve grease and loosen grime. For very dirty ovens, leave it in place overnight.

Step 3: Spray and Wipe

Loosen the dried paste by spraying it with plain hot water and wiping away large bits with a rag. Then, empty your spray bottle and refill it with equal parts warm water and white vinegar. Mist this everywhere in your oven — it will fizz and foam as it hits the baking soda. Wait for the fizzing to stop and wipe away the residue with a warm, damp rag or paper towel. Let it air dry with the oven door open and put your racks back inside to finish.

How To Clean A Self-Cleaning Oven

Self-cleaning ovens are convenient but not effortless. For one thing, you’ll need to be home during the entire self-cleaning cycle to watch for excess smoke and fire. Also, although this function does not use harsh chemical sprays, it still produces greasy smoke. So, you’ll want to open your kitchen windows to let in fresh air and keep pets out of the kitchen.

1. To prevent fires, empty the oven and clear the cooktop. Self-cleaning ovens reach temperatures over 550°(F) so anything touching them can get damaged. You should remove the metal racks and wash them as described further down. (It’s safe to leave enamel-coated racks in for self-cleaning cycles.)

2. Wipe charred bits of food and other loose debris from your oven floor. This step helps reduce the smoke and odors produced during the cleaning cycle. It also reduces the risk of fire.

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3. Most ovens will not begin the self-cleaning cycle if the door is not locked. If your oven does not automatically lock for you, press the lock button or slide the lever to lock it. Do not attempt to open the oven after it’s locked.

4. Turn on the oven’s self-cleaning function. How long a self-cleaning oven takes depends on which cycle you choose. Most offer a 2-hour cycle suitable for light cleaning and a 4-hour cycle for very dirty ovens. Whichever cycle you choose, plan an additional hour for cooling time. Your oven will turn off when the cycle ends. It will release the lock once it cools to a standard cooking temperature (around 350°F).

5. Wipe away any ash with a damp cloth when the oven is cool. Finally, put the racks back inside and enjoy.

The Quick Method to Steam Clean Your Oven

For a fast and natural way to clean your oven without scrubbing, steam is a perfect choice. This is also a great method to use between self-cleaning cycles.

  1. Begin steam-cleaning your oven by removing all but the middle rack.
  2. Put a large metal roasting pan or Dutch oven on the middle rack. Carefully fill this with 3 inches of boiling water.
  3. Turn your oven to 450°F (233°C) for a half-hour, then turn off the heat and leave the door closed.
  4. When the oven interior is cool enough to touch (at least an hour), discard the water and remove the rack.
  5. Wipe away loosened grime with a damp cloth, and put all the racks back in place once the oven is dry.

How to Clean Oven Racks

To clean your oven racks, line the bottom of a large sink or bathtub with a towel and fill it with hot water. Add a dishwasher pod or 2 tablespoons of dishwasher detergent and swirl to dissolve. Lay the racks on the towel and let them soak for at least 4 hours, or overnight if possible. Scrub remaining grime with an old toothbrush then rinse and dry the racks.

How to Clean Greasy Oven Door Glass

To clean your oven door’s greasy glass, place some towels on the floor in front of your oven and open the door all the way. Apply a very thick layer of the homemade oven cleaner to the glass. Dampen a rag with warm vinegar and lay it over the cleaner. It will fizz as the baking soda interacts with the vinegar to loosen grime and dissolve grease. Wait an hour then remove the rag and wipe the glass with a clean, damp microfiber cloth.

For stubborn grease on your oven door’s glass, reapply the mixture then scrub it with a cut lemon. You may want to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the juice. Some readers also recommend trying a tablespoon of hot water and a dishwasher tablet or a Magic Eraser.

Tips to Keep Your Oven Spotless

Cleaning an oven is never really a fun task, so it makes sense to do what you can to prevent spills and messes.

Keep Spills from Happening

Don’t overfill cookware. Ideally, you want a least an inch of space between the surface of whatever you’re cooking and the top of the dish. If you don’t have that much space, put an empty baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch drips.

Apply Salt to Fresh Spills

To make food splatters in your oven easier to clean, sprinkle them with table salt right away. The salt will absorb liquids and make the spill easier to wipe up once it’s cool. 

Line the Oven Floor Properly

Never line your oven with aluminum foil, even if that’s how your grandmother did it. Foil can fuse to the floor of modern ovens and cause fires, plus it voids your warranty. A removable, washable oven liner is a safer alternative. When a spill happens, you just pull out the liner and rinse it off.

How Often Should You Clean Your Oven?

To prevent stubborn oven stains, wipe spills when they’re fresh. Then, clean your oven every three months to prevent pests and fires, or immediately if it smells bad and starts to smoke while in use. (Here is a chart explaining how often to clean everything in your home, including your oven.)

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2 Comments

  1. Unfortunately, my husband did line our oven with aluminum foil and it did indeed melt. How can I get it off? (By the way, I love your site!)

    1. Katie Berry says:

      The homemade oven cleaner can help here! First, soak the area with a thick, very hot rag loosen things up then apply a thick layer of the paste. Immediately spray a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water (both hot) and scrape the foil with a wooden spatula. Repeat from step one until the foil is gone. (Alternatively, store bought oven cleaning spray will melt the foil and make it easier to lift if your rather go that route.)