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, especially when you know the tricks we share below. Some of the tips below are even from renowned cleaning sensation @LittleMissMops known from Instagram and Youtube who is a professional cleaner in the United Kingdom and regularly cleans some truly gruesome ovens for her job.
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:
- Does the oven have an automatic cleaning feature?
- Is the oven an electric range or a gas range?
- Which parts of the oven are removable?
Cleaning the Racks and Range
Cleaning the Racks
- Remove the oven racks and place them in a sink full of warm, soapy water. If the sink is not large enough for this and no storage tub is availale to use, they often will fit in a bathtub or if necessary, a trash bag can be improvised with (though it’s best to keep the bag in the shower or outside for easy drainage of the water).
- Add some liquid dish soap to the water to help loosen the grease.
- 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 so that it can be scrubbed away. Little Miss Mops recommends that you be sure to finish cleaning the racks and remove them from the water before it fully cools as the loosened grease will harden up again in the cooler temperature.
If your oven has wire rack holders on the sides, you may be able to simply pop them out and clean them right along with the racks. Here is a video by Ms. Mops showing their removal.
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 or cool. Be sure to only use a non-scratch scrubber if scrubing is needed as the painted-on labels on the knob dials could scratch off and 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, they can be dried with a hair dryer on hot air or an easier method is to place them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. It is important that all of the water is removed from inside the tubes. Use an oven mitt or hot pad to remove them from the oven. Replace them when they are cool.
Keep in mind that you must be very careful with a gas stove that you do not accidentally turn on the gas! This recently happened to Little Miss Mops while she was cleaning an oven, so you know if it can happen to a pro, it can happen to anyone.
If you have an electric stove:
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.
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. After removing the reflector bowls, wipe the area around the heating coils, including underneath the ring. You do not need to clean the heating coils themselves.
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. Little Miss Mops recommends removing the knobs (“pop your knobs” as she likes to say) regularly (at least every few cleans) as grease and food debris can build up under the edges of the knobs to a shocking level.
Cleaning the Cooktop
We have created a full guide for How to Clean a Stovetop with recommendations for the various types: ceramic/glass or electric coil. There are also many problems that can affect stovetops which regular cleaning won’t remove, so if you’re having trouble, be sure to check these out or search the site for others that you may need:
- How to Clean Burnt Food from a Glass Stovetop
- How to Remove Burnt-On Grease from a Ceramic Stove
- How to Restore a Dulled Electric Smooth-Top Stove Top
Cleaning a Self-Cleaning Oven
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.
- Lock the oven door and select the option for “clean.”
- Let the oven do its magic.
However, those are the steps for regularly using the self-cleaning cycle. If it has been a while since you last cleaned the oven, it’s a good idea to wipe out as much food, debris or grease as possible before starting the self-cleaning cycle to prevent a fire and also prevent the food from baking onto the floor of the oven. After the cleaning is complete, you may need to wipe out some ash that will be left from any debris that was not removed prior to cleaning.
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.
Keep in mind also that not all oven racks are meant to stay in the oven during the self-cleaning process. Be sure to check the manual for your specific oven or if that is not available, inspect the racks for any rubber pieces, which would indicate that they cannot go through the high heat of the self-clean process. Even if the racks do not have rubber parts, they still may not be safe to keep in for the self-cleaning process; in particular, the metal could discolor. It’s always best to clean the racks by hand unless you’re sure it’s safe to keep them in. Also, be sure to remove any oven liners or tin foil that you have placed in the oven for protection.
Cleaning a Non-Self-Cleaning Oven
Cleaning with Oven Cleaner
Your oven still has a reliable cleaning mechanism; this would be you and a can of oven cleaner. Every oven cleaner is unique, and many are very caustic products, so be sure to fully read the label of your chosen product before you begin. In particular, be sure to follow all safety precautions for your oven cleaner, including ventillating the area before use and wearing gloves and protective clothing. When ready, continue with the steps below (or avoid using traditional oven cleaner altogether by skipping to the next section on Cleaning with Ammonia). If needed, the oven door can be removed for you to more easily reach the back of the oven. Removing the door is usually very easy. To do so, simply lift it off of its hinges at a slight angle.
- 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. Use paper towels to scoop out the oven cleaner and gunk from the oven as using a cloth will require a lot of rinsing and likely stain the cloth.
Cleaning with Ammonia
If you don’t want to use oven cleaner, you can use ammonia. This also works well for cleaning the sides and roof of the oven. Wear rubber gloves to prevent a skin reaction and be sure to use ammonia only in a well-ventilated area. See Wikipedia for more ammonia safety information.
- Pour one cup 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 if needed.
- Close the door to the oven and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
- 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 Oven Door
The inside of the oven door can be cleaned the same way as the rest of the oven: by applying oven cleaner or ammonia and then scrubbing off the grease. However, there is another method that Little Miss Mops uses that works extremely well: a window scraper (also known as a razor blade). The stuck on grease and gunk and simply be scraped off the glass with a window scraper. You can see how easy this process is in the video below by Little Miss Mops. Never use the scraper on the inside (enamel) parts of the oven though; only on the glass.
If your oven has a door with double panes of glass that needs to be cleaned inside, use the guide How to Clean Inside Double Glass Oven Doors.
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 rubbing alcohol, one part white vinegar and two parts water. Just apply some of the cleaner to your rag or paper towel and that should take care of it.
Can Brillo or S.O.S pads be used in the oven?
No, steel wool pads should never be used in an oven as they can scratch the enamel. Use only non-scratching sponges or cloths when cleaning inside the oven, such as nylon scrubbers.
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.
Oven liners can help with inner-oven spills, as can lining the oven with tin foil or placing a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven. However, do not ever place these items on the bottom of a newer oven; newer oven models have the heating element below the oven floor rather than inside the oven, which heats the oven floor up much higher than in older ovens and can cause the silicone oven liner to melt or tin foil to fuse to the oven bottom. Take it from the hundreds of comments on our post How to Remove Melted Aluminum Foil from the Oven; this is not something easy to fix!
- If there are young children in your home and the knobs on the oven are within their reach, pop the knobs off and keep them near the stove in a bowl or other container that is out of reach for the children.
- Grease build up in or on the oven is a fire hazard; it can literally catch fire and spread to the rest of the kitchen or house from there. Be sure to clean the oven regularly to prevent this dangerous buildup.
- Ventillation is essential when cleaning an oven, so never take on the task at a time when ventillation will be unavailable (such as being unable to open a window during a snow or rain storm).
- Oven cleaner usually contains lye or other caustic cleaners; be careful where you set the can as if could drip onto the surface and damage it (particularly stone countertops or wood floors).
- In the Kitchen with Heloise by Heloise
- Green Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck
- Clean It Fast, Clean It Right by Jeff Bredenberg
- Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson
- Carli Ann James, a professional cleaner known as @LittleMissMops on Instagram and YouTube
- Check out the awesome (really awesome!!!) video trailer for Miss Mop’s Youtube channel:
- Check out the awesome (really awesome!!!) video trailer for Miss Mop’s Youtube channel: