I always like to find an easy way to do things. As I go through life, I find it's important to take advantage of the little shortcuts that save wear and tear on me. Here's an easy way to clean an oven that I've found that works.
The hardest part of cleaning an oven is getting all that baked-on black stuff off the inside walls of the oven. It's called carbon. Here's 8 easy steps that I follow to get the hard-stuck carbon off:
Buy an empty spray bottle and some baking soda.
You'll find that baking soda is cheap -- especially if you buy in bulk.
Using a funnel, place 3 heaping teaspoons of baking soda into the spray bottle.
If the baking soda clogs the funnel, unclog it with water.
Three heaping teaspoons of baking soda is enough baking soda for a large spray bottle. Large baking soda bottles are approximately 1 quart or 1 liter.
Be sure to buy an empty spray bottle. Bottles that previously contained window cleaning solution, or other substances, do not work very well. That's what I hear.
One person, who wrote in, got their empty spray bottle at a flower shop. Years ago, I got my empty spray bottle at Costco. That was over 10 years ago.
Wash the baking soda into the spray bottle by running water into the funnel.
Fill the bottle with water. After the bottle fills, you'll notice undissolved baking soda that has settled at the bottom of the bottle.
Shake the spray bottle so that all the baking soda dissolves in the water.
Unless all the baking soda is fully dissolved, some of it gets left behind in the bottom of the bottle as a residue.
When the oven is cold, spray the baking soda and water solution on to the black stuff. Do this one or more times a day.
It is important to work on a cold oven for two reasons:
Safety. You can't burn your hands if the oven is cold.
Containment. You'll get baking soda all over the house if you start with a hot oven. I know. I've done it.
Starting with a cold oven solves the problem.
Use your oven as you normally would. Keep spraying wet baking soda on to the top and sides of the interior of the oven between meals.
Wet baking soda will break up the carbon sticking to the sides of the oven. Keep spraying baking soda on to the black stuff between meals until it is all gone.
Don't worry about getting baking soda in your food. Baking soda is one of the prime ingredients of many recipes such as corn bread. It is safe to add it to your food should you do so inadvertently.
Using this technique, the black carbon that was stuck to the sides of your oven will flow to the floor of your oven and settle there as a black carbon powder that can be wiped away.
Your oven will look like a mess while this is in process. Choose a good time to do this.
At your convenience, when the oven is cold, wipe your oven with a damp cloth.
Eventually, you will have to wipe down your whole oven with a damp cloth. The black carbon and baking soda will will settle together on the bottom of your oven. Both are easily removed with a damp cloth.
In theory, you will have to apply the spray bottle many times but you should only have to wipe down your oven once. Try not to wipe down the oven prematurely as this removes the active ingredient that makes the whole thing work -- the baking soda.
Important! Let the baking soda accumulate so that it can do its job.
Repeat, repeat, repeat until all the black carbon is gone.
This technique can be used on carbon that is baked on to casserole dishes as well.
Keep Spraying to Clean Oven
This technique is the thrifty person's oven cleaner. You'll notice that the main ingredient in many commercial oven cleaning products is baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate).
One disadvantage to this approach is that it takes time for the baking soda to chemically react with the carbon. Time and repeated applications of the spray bottle solution are your keys to success.
A clear advantage to this approach is that it is not very labor intensive. Just keep spraying the carbon stuck to the interior of the oven until it all flows to the bottom of the oven. Then wipe it all out with a damp cloth.
One more thing to consider: It takes a lot of baking soda to remove a lot of carbon. Be sure to apply a significant quantity of baking soda before giving up on the project. Significant quantities of wet baking soda and the passage of time are your keys to success. Remember! The baking soda does not react with the carbon unless it is wet.
On particularly difficult spots, you may want to dampen the baking soda in a bowl and apply it directly on these spots as a wet paste. If you do this, keep the baking soda wet for an extended period of time by coming back often and spraying it with your spray bottle.
If the accumulation of carbon is particularly heavy on the bottom of your oven, you can sprinkle baking soda on to the bottom as a dry powder and then dampen it with your spray bottle.
Glass Window Warning
A woman, who has successfully used baking soda to clean her oven, has sent me an email with a warning: Be careful when cleaning the glass window on your oven door.
The glass is double-pane glass and if you are not careful, it is possible to get baking soda between the panes of glass. This is what happened to the woman who emailed me.
She tells me that once the baking soda runs streaks down the glass, it is nearly impossible to remove these white streaks unless someone qualified to do so disassembles the oven door and cleans up the baking soda that lies between the layers of glass.
The best solution, of course, is to not allow baking soda to penetrate the interior of the oven door. How do you avoid having this happen to you?
Look for the vents on the top of the oven door. These vents, or holes, allow air to escape the interior of the oven door as it heats up. Unfortunately, if you spray baking soda into these vents, it can also allow baking soda to deposit itself between the layers of glass of your oven door.
Your oven door then allows baking soda to run into the vents and down the interior surfaces of the glass window. Of course, you have to spray your oven door with quite a bit of water and baking soda to allow this to happen.
Here are some possible solutions for this problem: It seems to me that if you put a towel over the vents, this would solve the problem as the baking soda would not penetrate the towel. Since baking soda is an ingredient in some laundry detergent formulas, the towel should clean up later just fine in the washing machine.
Another possibility is to finger paint the baking soda on to the oven door, avoiding the spray bottle entirely. Should you have black spots on your oven door, just create a wet paste with the baking soda. Be careful not to make the paste so wet that it runs. Next, finger paint the baking soda paste on. Try to avoid getting baking soda in the holes at the top of the oven door.
Clean Oven Door
in the Horizontal Position
Something that should help you to avoid getting baking soda on the interior surface of your oven door window is to always clean the oven door in the horizontal position. When the oven door is all the way open, it is horizontal. When it is all the way closed, it is vertical.
Always clean the oven door in the fully open, laying down, horizontal position. In this position, it should be difficult or impossible for wet baking soda to run down the interior of the glass.
As I've never personally experienced the problem of getting baking soda between layers of glass on my oven door, all my suggestions are theory only. It seems to me, however, that keeping the door horizontal when actively cleaning it, plus taking all possible precautions to prevent baking soda from entering the oven door vents, should take care of the problem.
Use Baking Soda
as an Oven Door Spot Remover
Besides cleaning the oven door in the horizontal position, I'd also suggest you use baking soda to spot remove carbon on the oven door. In other words, target specific spots rather than using the spray bottle on the whole door.
Better yet, dispense with the spray bottle entirely when working on the oven door. With your fingers, use a barely wet baking soda paste to target remove every single black spot on your oven door.
Your Oven Cleaning Experiences
Please post to my blog or send me an email with your oven-door cleaning experiences. Your feedback is valuable. It helps other people who are having the same problem.
Oven Cleaning Blog
I have started an oven cleaning blog to help answer oven cleaning questions that people ask.
For example, choosing a spray bottle that will take baking soda. Not all will.
On my blog, I write about spray bottles that clog. I also write about spray bottles that do not.
If you email me asking a question that I can answer, I'll probably turn it into an oven cleaning blog post and then send you the link so you can read it.
Fair enough? This way I don't answer the same oven cleaning questions over and over again.
I know very little about oven cleaning. I've done it so seldom. However, if I can't help you to get your oven clean, maybe another person reading my blog will be able to answer it. You can post your question to my oven cleaning blog if you want to.
Oven Cleaning Reader Comments
January 18, 2012
I came across your site some time ago, and finally want to thank you for your baking soda and water oven cleaning tip.
I had an oven that I pretty much daily wiped down on the outside, but in six years I never cleaned the inside or the burner box, because I don't like using harmful oven cleaners. I didn't even know what to do with the latter. And it was filthy, disgustingly so.
I bought a ton of baking soda and a spray bottle and got to it. I sprayed every day and when I wasn't baking, I just turned on the oven to let the solution work. After about a week, I wiped this whole mess out.
That was it. No work whatsoever! And the oven looked like new!!! No nasty fumes to assault my lungs; no work to bother my lazy disposition:)
Thank you SOOOO much!!!!
Cheers from a truly impressed,
Editor's note: Turning on the oven is not necessary. Baking soda seems to break down carbon build-up on the inside walls of the oven, regardless of the internal temperature of the oven. However, the baking soda does need to be wet in order to work.
In short, you can turn the oven on or leave it off. To the best of my knowledge, it does not matter. Go ahead and bake with the wet baking soda on the walls of the oven, or leave the oven cold. As far as I know, your results will roughly be the same, regardless.
September 9, 2010
just tried your method for cleaning an oven using baking soda and water. Thank you so much. This is better than the magic eraser! I cooked a lasagna a week ago and some of the lasagna dropped on to the oven. I didn't realize that until I went to use my oven last night and my house was smoky!
I was in a hurry and needed my oven in a certain amount of time, I tried your method and it came right up within minutes! Thank you so very much, it was hassle free and nice not to have [to use] harsh chemicals.
I did research about cleaning a refrigerator a year or so ago and I read to use baking soda and water as well. That was a miracle. Made it much more easier to clean! Thank you again, I am truly impressed.
March 21, 2010
I just tried your method for cleaning an oven using baking soda and water in a spray bottle. My husband did not believe that it could work, but I was DREADING doing the whole oven cleaner process...so messy and so hard to get all the chemicals off. I followed your instructions for 3 days of spraying.
We were both thrilled and amazed with the results of your method. My oven is gleaming and the best part is that I did not have to use any elbow grease at all. Everything wiped beautifully clean, even the racks. Thank you so much! What a great tip and what a great site!
February 27, 2010
I want to thank you so much for this method. It took over a week, but it was so easy and no mess.
I have used oven cleaners in the past and what a mess. This method just took longer but was so easy to wipe out, no fumes and no big preparation.
I will use this method in the future. I plan to do it before it gets so bad and it should be easier next time.
August 25, 2009
I just had to write to thank you.
I have lived in a rental apartment for over a year. Last Christmas, I prepared a Christmas dinner of fresh ham which under good circumstances makes a huge oily mess.
I went to self-clean the oven afterwards only to find out that it was not self or continuous cleaning. Well, after putting off cleaning the mess until now, I was faced with the task.
I came online and read your article and decided to give it a go. Over the weekend, and through this morning, whenever I went near the kitchen, I would spray the solution as you suggested.Tonight I came home and decided to tackle finishing the job. I am still sitting here in amazement as to how easily the baked on grease came off with just a damp sponge. Even the racks came just like new. I normally would never write in but I just need to thank you for this wonderful tip that really works.
I have recently read your article on cleaning the oven with the baking soda and the squirt bottle. It works great and I do agree that it takes many applications but -- who cares -- you are not down there scrubbing your knuckles off for 2 hours on your hands and knees. I just wanted to say thanks for the tip.
. . .Some of my friends are still in the process of the spraying part and they said they will e-mail you also once theirs [are] clean . . .People, it seems to me, are more apt to do or at least try something new when there [are] others who go first (lol). Thanks again for the for the tip. It has been a real back saver (lol). Have a great day.
Update!! It works! Beautifully! A month or so ago I got a new bottle at the flower section of my local Stop and Shop, mixed it up, sprayed it on and left if there for a fairly long time and didn't use the oven for a few weeks. I think I sprayed some more once or twice between then and now. A few days ago I wiped it down and I couldn't believe how well it worked! Phenomenal.
I will keep doing this from now on. It's too good to be true! I won't have to use toxic chemicals on it again!
(I know I sound like a rabid housewife but this impressed me...)
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©Edward Abbott, 2002-2013. All rights reserved. Revised February 20, 2013.