Tips: The oven-cleaning tricks that work

Michelle Guerrere

Part of spring-cleaning is that you’re cleaning all the nooks and crannies you don’t get a chance to reach all year round — and your oven should not be forgotten. I’ve been searching high and low for some oven cleaning hacks lately. It all started because I live in an old apartment and realized I have no idea the last time it was cleaned. (Yes, that’s a bit scary). Not only does grime and dried-up oil look unpleasant, but it often produces a foul odor when things are cooking.

And not tending to your oven once in a while also has some more serious hazards far beyond just being smelly. Firstly, it can be unhygienic since old bits of food are being heated and they can actually permeate into your food. Plus, spills can get caked on and can actually cause smoke and even lead to fire. To make sure this isn’t the case for you, follow these totally easy oven cleaning hacks that will make this “chore” a cinch.

Method 1: water + ammonia

1. Warm your oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit and then turn it off.

2. If you have a gas stove, turn off both the gas and the pilot light (this is crucial for safety).

3. Put a large pot of boiling water on the bottom rack and a baking dish with a cup of ammonia on the top rack.

4. Close the door and let it rest overnight.

5. Open in the morning and remove the racks.

6. Air out the oven with the door open for 15 minutes or more.

7. Add a couple of teaspoons of dish soap to your leftover ammonia, plus a quart of warm water; mix.

8. Using plastic gloves, dip a scrubbing pad into the liquid and use it to wipe the remnants of grease out of your oven.

Method 2: white vinegar + baking soda

1. Empty your oven and remove racks.

2. Mix up your own cleaning solution of 1/2 cup of baking soda and some water (a few tablespoons should do the trick). You want to add enough water so that it becomes a paste.

3. Using gloves, spread the mixture all over the interior of the oven, taking care to avoid the heating elements.

4. Let it sit overnight or for a minimum of 12 hours.

5. Using a dampened cloth, wipe the mixture off (it will turn brown from the grease).

6. Spray white vinegar on any areas where it’s a challenge to remove the paste; the vinegar will react with the baking soda to loosen it up.

7. Continue to wipe down the appliance with water until the oven is clean.

Method 3: the self-clean function

A few words of warning: some people say that the self-clean function can actually cause your oven to break since it’s reaching such high temperatures (over 900 degrees Fahrenheit). But to be honest, my mom has always used the self-clean “method” on her oven and has never had any issues. It’s not an option on all ovens, but it is worth considering. Here’s how to do it:

1. Open nearby windows to ventilate.

2. Press the button and let the oven do its thing (the door will lock itself for safety reasons).

3. Most ovens will take anywhere from 21/2 to four hours to fully clean themselves (do not leave the house until the cycle is done).

The Details: Tips + Tricks

For oven racks: Remove them and spray with an oven cleaning product. Seal in large bags for around 30 minutes. Rinse them with warm water to get rid of the residue.

For the glass: Slightly dampen a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and wipe off any leftover grease.

Random spots: Treat little spots causing you major difficulty with some cleaning solution and a toothbrush. Need a little bit more help scrubbing? Invest in a cheap electric toothbrush to help you do some of the work.

The door: The inside glass on your door can get super icky, and the best trick is to wet a dishwasher detergent tablet with hot water and use it as you would a sponge.

For a polish: Cream of tartar — typically a baking ingredient — is the way to get an insane polish on your oven. Swipe it on and let it be for 10 minutes; rinse and it will look brand-new.

For hard-to-reach areas: Hate when crumbs get into the hinges of the oven? To remedy that, simply unscrew your door to get to those hard-to-reach areas.

Now that you have three easy cleaning methods (plus some tips on the details), you have no excuse for avoiding an oven overhaul this spring. Now get to it.

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