How to Clean the Oven

Many people dread cleaning the oven. If your oven is coated in grease or baked on food, the task can seem daunting. However, it is actually fairly simple to do and does not take much time at all to complete.

There are a few things to consider before you start cleaning your oven, as they will affect the process that will be required to clean it. These things are as follows:

  1. Does the oven have an automatic cleaning feature?
  2. Is the oven an electric range or a gas range?
  3. Which parts of the oven are removable?

Cleaning the Stovetop

Remove the oven racks and place them in a sink full of warm, soapy water and scrub them until clean. You can use liquid dish soap. If there are any difficult to clean spots on the burners or racks, you can leave them to soak in the soapy water for about 20 minutes. That should loosen any stubborn baked-on food.

Cleaning the burners and knobs

If you have a traditional gas or propane stove …
Remove the burner covers and drip trays and place them in the sink full of warm water. You can use the water you used to clean the racks, or replace it if it has become too dirty. You can use liquid dish soap or a steel wool pad that contains soap, such as a Brillo or SOS pad. Be careful with the drip trays, as metal trays tend to scratch easily. Do not try to use a knife or sharp object to scrape them.

You may occasionally need to clean the surface burners. They are fairly easy to remove if your stovetop lifts up. You can clean them in the soapy water just as you did the burner covers. Use a brush or pin to clean the holes if necessary. Never place anything flammable inside them.

To dry the surface burners, place them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. It is important that all of the water is removed. Use an oven mitt or hot pad to remove them from the oven. Replace them when they are cool.

If you have an electric stove …
Remove the reflector bowls and place them in the warm, soapy water in the sink in order to scrub them. Again, use caution, as the reflector bowls can scratch easily when you scrub them. Then wipe the area around the heating coils, including underneath the ring. You do not need to clean the heating coils themselves.

Please note: Before you begin cleaning the stovetop, make sure that it is completely cool in order to avoid burning yourself. Be sure that the burners are securely turned to the off position, as some cleaners may be flammable, and never leave bottles of cleaner or paper towels sitting on the stovetop.

If the knobs are removable, you can take them off, but do not place them in the soapy water. Wipe them with a cloth and use an all-purpose kitchen cleaner if necessary.

Cleaning the Oven

If it is self-cleaning …
The process you need to use to clean the oven depends on whether or not your oven is self-cleaning. For a self-cleaning oven, it is basically a two-step process.

  1. Lock the oven door and selection the option for “clean.”
  2. Let the oven do its magic.

When the cleaning cycle is complete, any food in the bottom of the oven should be removed, baked off at a high temperature. Be sure to keep children and pets away from the oven during the cleaning cycle. It can get very hot and it may not smell too pleasant. You may want to stay away too. Also, it is not advised to use the self-cleaning feature if you have pet birds as the fumes could harm them.

If it is not self-cleaning …
Your oven still has a reliable cleaning mechanism. This would be you and a can of oven cleaner. First, remove any loose crumbs from the oven using a cloth or paper towel. If you wipe the crumbs directly into a garbage can or dust pan, you will avoid unnecessary clean-up later.

Next, spray the oven with oven cleaner and follow the directions on the can. You can ask an appliance store employee or call the company that manufactured your oven to find one that meets your needs and specifications.

If you don’t want to use oven cleaner, you can use ammonia. Pour two cups of ammonia in a bowl and then place a rag or sponge in the bowl. Apply the ammonia to any rough spots on the bottom or sides of the oven and let it sit for about 30 minutes. (You may wish to wear rubber gloves to prevent a skin reaction and be sure to use ammonia only in a well-ventilated area. )

When the 30 minutes is up, simply wipe out the rest of the oven with water. Make sure the ammonia is rinsed thoroughly, unless you’d like this aroma added to your food in the future.

Cleaning the outside of the oven

Use an all-purpose kitchen cleaner and a rag or paper towel to wipe the rest of the surfaces of the oven clean. In order to avoid a streaky appearance, you should clean the window with a glass cleaner or a mixture of one part each of rubbing alcohol, one part vinegar and two parts water. Just apply some of the cleaner to your rag or paper towel and that should take care of it.

Prevent oven cleaning in the future

One way to avoid frequent oven cleanings is to prevent spills from happening. Use pans that are large enough to accommodate the food that’s in them. Also, clean up spills as they happen if they are on the stovetop. This is not recommended if they occur inside the hot oven of course. But try to wipe those up same day.


  1. Marie says:

    I have been cleaning my oven racks for years using this great tip: Take the racks outside and put them in a large plastic garbage bag. Spray oven cleaner inside the bag on the racks. Turn the bag over and coat the other side of the racks to make sure all the foam is on both sides of the racks. Tie the bag and leave it while your oven is being cleaned. Take out the racks and rinse them off under the hose. Baked on grease is all gone!

  2. Greg says:

    As well as the large trash bag tip (which is very good)…warm up the oven to about 200 degrees and turn it off. Now, place in an oven safe Pyrex bowl with a couple of cups of ammonia, and leave it overnight. You can leave it for a few hours instead, but, overnight is even better. Watch how the grease just wipes right off!! Heavily crusted spots may need a little help. :)

  3. Greg says:

    If you want to clean a broiler pan…use the trash bag tip. If you don’t want to use oven cleaner, then put a cup or two of ammonia in the broiler pan, put the top of the broiler pan back on and place it in the large trash bag, twist it closed and seal it with a twist tie, and let it stay for a few hours or overnight.

  4. Kat says:

    I have an electric stove with one of those seamless flat surfaces. I simply use dish soap and a few rags to clean off the top. It may take a few washings to get grease off, though. Make sure you don’t get everything too wet though, or water may drip down the sides into those impossibly small cracks.

  5. Edna says:

    I spilled pumpkin in my oven at Thanksgiving, and thought I cleaned it up sufficiently. However, over the past month, every time I use the oven, it seems to acquire more burns, and the smoke alarms keep going off. I tried Easy-Off last night and this morning, but it doesn’t seem to get all the crud off. It also affects my burners. The flames burn high and red, so I put my beans in my crock pot. Should propane stoves be cleaned differently from gas ovens? I never had a problem with natural gas.

  6. Maria says:

    I recently moved into a house that had been abandoned for two years. The oven works great, although it is an older model (possibly ’70s), but I am renting and even if I wanted to replace it, the kitchen size makes that impossible. My dilemma is that every time I use the oven, it has an awful smell – my brother has told me it was the coils because of non-usage. Is it possible to remove the smell safely? Should the coils be replaced? The smell is almost nauseating. I read and tried to “cook” vanilla, but it still smells! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  7. David says:

    I would strongly encourage everyone to not use strong oven cleaners with their accompanying noxious chemical smell to clean out their ovens.

    I would further encourage people to not use the self-cleaning feature on their ovens. It uses a lot of electricity, produces unpleasant, unhealthy fumes, and is simply not friend to the environment or the lungs of you, your family and pets.

    Cleaning the oven is incredibly simple with one super ingredient: baking soda.

    Just make a paste of baking soda by mixing the baking soda in a bowl with water, adding and mixing baking soda until you have a consistency similar to pancake batter. Then, simply pour some of the paste onto the bottom of the oven and let it sit for 30 minutes. Use a tough (but not too rough) scouring pad and a fair bit of elbow grease, and you should have the oven clean in no time. For the walls of the oven, simply mix a lighter baking soda consistency in a spray bottle. Spray the walls, wait 30 minutes and elbow grease away. For the oven racks, execute the same procedure as for the walls. If 30 minutes isn’t enough time to cut through the grease, simply add some more mixture and wait longer. Some people apply the baking soda mixture at night, go to sleep, and do the cleaning the following day. That’s probably only necessary if there are seriously hardened food particulates stuck inside the oven. In most cases, 30 minutes should be fine.

    So, cleaning the oven can be super easy and super safe.

    Forget the chemicals and the self-cleaner.
    Your health and the environment will thank you.


  8. Anita says:

    I was just wanting to know how to clean the top surface wall of the oven. Do you know if there is a special product to help clean that top wall in the oven? I have no muscles to turn my wrist facing up. I am thinking of making a hanger type scrubber, but am scared to get a shock. Please help. So frustrated only on this part. As for the all the other walls of the oven, I have no problem cleaning them. Thanks.

  9. Melanie says:

    There are specialty oven brushes that usually have a bristle brush and a metal scraper. They often have a long handle so they can be used to clean a pizza oven. Here is an example. Since you might not need the extra long handle, you could try using a back scrubber for the bristle brush and back scratcher as a scraper. Another idea is to use a brush for cleaning snow off a car; those usually come with ice scrapers too, which might work. Or you could use a spackling knife as a scraper.

  10. Michelle says:

    I like to leave some tin foil at the bottom to catch falling food/grease for easy cleanup later.

  11. Melanie says:

    Although the foil idea may work for your current oven, I strongly suggest that you use caution if you visit a friend or relative, or buy a new oven, etc. Newer ovens are not made to work with foil. Read some of the comments on this post, How to Remove Melted Aluminum Foil from the Oven, and you will quickly see what I’m talking about.

  12. Wayne says:

    I have a gas stove and am wondering if I can put the stovetop burners in the oven during the self clean process and get them clean?

  13. Myra says:

    I clean my oven with soap and SOS pads, but it’s still smoking. What should I do?

  14. Melanie says:

    This is the article that you need: My Newly Cleaned Oven is Smoking.

  15. John says:

    Further to the baking soda tip, if you smear a baking soda mixture over the inside of your oven, it prevents grease from sticking to it and can usually be wiped off.

  16. Marsha says:

    When I got my new stove, I vowed to keep the oven clean. I wipe it out after every use practically. My oven is clean. However, does anyone know how I can restore the shine to the oven floor interior, which would aid in keeping it clean?

  17. Bill says:

    We have a Sears Elite propane range. The oven self clean works fine except for the inside door glass. There is no mention in the owner’s manual of how to clean this. Any suggestions?

  18. Melanie says:

    This is the article that you need: How to Clean Inside Double Glass Oven Doors.

  19. Diane says:

    I am not reading enough information to help me finish cleaning my PROPANE oven. In a very large cooking sheet with deeper sides than the typical cookie sheet, I was removing cooked bacon from the oven. The pan was not overloaded with too much bacon, but as always, there was lots of grease. With the help of my dog’s cold noise, the pan went flying and the bacon, pan & tons of grease landed upside down throughout the oven & looked like a crime scene. Grease ran right through the open slates that leads to the 400 degree flame. I turned my propane oven off immediately. I took most of today cleaning the oven and drawer, etc. I found I had to remove by drill the metal plates right down to the igniter. Grease was within 1/2″ from where the flame sets. I paper toweled the grease away, but that doesn’t clean it off the metal. How do I safely clean this metal portion surrounding the igniter area. Please HELP, people who are smarter than me.

  20. Melanie says:

    There are two things that would work: 1) Soaking up the grease with an absorbent, such as cornmeal, or 2) using a grease-fighting dish liquid like Dawn. To use the cornmeal, just sprinkle a generous amount (about 1/4″ thick) over the area and let it sit for about an hour, then sweep or vacuum it up. To use the dish liquid, just wash the parts with the soapy water, then once the grease is removed, wipe the area with a damp cloth to rinse off any soap residue.
    Obviously the cornmeal would be difficult to use on a vertical surface, but you could try wrapping a vertical surface with plastic wrap and sprinkling the cornmeal into the plastic wrap; this will require two people: one to hold the base of the plastic wrap in place and press the plastic wrap up vertically as the cornmeal falls in place, and the second person to sprinkle the cornmeal. If that’s not an option, you can try using paper towels again, but let them act as an absorbent by taping them in place and leaving them there for about 30 minutes; use a small stack of them. It may take several applications with the absorbent to soak up all the remaining grease. Other absorbents that would work besides cornmeal are flour, wheat germ, sawdust, or baking soda.
    Good luck!

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