Part of spring cleaning is going through all the nooks and crannies that you don’t always get a chance to reach—but cleaning your oven is an easy task that you can do year-round. If you live in an apartment where the oven has been used by previous residents (or just don't remember the last time you deep-cleaned your kitchen), it's probably time to pay a little extra attention to your daily appliances. Not only do grime and dried-up oil look unpleasant, but they often produce a foul odor when you're cooking.
Forgetting to tend to your oven once in a while also has some more serious hazards far beyond creating some smelly odors, including the risk of fire: To make sure this isn’t the case for you, follow these simple methods that will make this “chore” a cinch.
Below, read on for oven hacks that can help you clean your space quickly and easily to keep it feeling fresh all the time.
How Often Should You Clean Your Oven?
How often you need to clean your oven heavily depends on how often you use it—so if you aren't exactly a home chef, you should plan to clean it about four times per year (or as the seasons change every three months, for a simple rule of thumb).
Things You'll Need
Each method requires different cleaning products, but you can get a head start with this general list of materials that encompasses various ways to clean your oven:
- Baking soda
- Oven cleaner (like Easy-Off Oven Cleaner or Goo Gone Oven and Grill Cleaner)
- Magic eraser
- Glass cleaner (like Windex)
- Dishwasher detergent
- Cream of tartar
- Lemon juice
Method 1: Water + Ammonia
Step 1: Warm your oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, then turn it back off.
Step 2: If you have a gas stove, turn off both the main gas line and the pilot light (this is a crucial step for safety reasons).
Step 3: Put a large pot of boiling water on the bottom rack, then place a baking dish filled with one cup of ammonia on the top rack.
Step 4: Close the door and let it rest overnight.
Step 5: Open the oven in the morning and remove the racks.
Step 6: Air out the oven by opening the door for at least 15 minutes.
Step 7: Mix together two teaspoons of dish soap to your leftover ammonia, then add a quart of warm water.
Step 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
Step 1: Empty your oven and remove the racks.
Step 2: Mix your own cleaning solution of 1/2 cup baking soda and some water (a few tablespoons should do the trick). You want to add enough water to turn the mixture into a paste.
Step 3: Using gloves, spread the mixture all over the interior of the oven, taking care to avoid the heating elements.
Step 4: Let it sit overnight or for a minimum of 12 hours.
Step 5: Using a dampened cloth, wipe the mixture off (it will turn brown from the grease).
Step 6: Spray additional white vinegar on any areas where it’s difficult to remove the paste; the vinegar will react with the baking soda to loosen it up.
Step 7: Continue to wipe down the appliance with water until the oven is clean.
Method 3: The Self-Clean Function
Step 1: Open nearby windows to ventilate the additional heat in your kitchen.
Step 2: Turn on the self-cleaning function with the press of a button, and let the oven begin to clean itself (the door will lock itself for safety reasons).
Step 3: Wait two and a half to four hours for the cycle to complete. Be sure to stay home until your oven has turned itself off in case the appliance overheats.
Be cautious when using the self-cleaning function on older appliance models (or even a beloved brand-new oven): Since the temperature can reach temperatures of nearly 900 degrees Fahrenheit, some ovens break, or "burn out," over time when this function is used.
Method 4: The Oven Rack Soak
Step 1: Remove the oven racks.
Step 2: Spray the racks with an oven cleaning product (like Easy-Off Oven Cleaner or Goo Gone Oven and Grill Cleaner).
Step 3: Seal them in large bags for about 30 minutes.
Step 4: Rinse with warm water and scrub off additional residue.
Method 5: Quick Glass Cleaner
Step 1: Slightly dampen a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser with glass cleaner (like Windex).
Step 2: Use it to wipe off any leftover grease on the base of the oven for a quick clean, or as a final sweep after you've already used another method.
Method 6: Spot Treatment
Step 1: Treat small, stubborn spots with a toothbrush and white vinegar.
Step 2: Dip the brush in vinegar and start scrubbing small nooks and crannies.
Step 3: If stains still remain, add a paste of baking soda and water. A cheap electric toothbrush can also help you do some of the work.
Method 7: Dishwasher Detergent Tablets
Step 1: Wet a dishwasher detergent tablet with hot water to clean the inside glass on your oven door.
Step 2: Scrub it against the glass door like a sponge in order to eliminate built-up grime.
Method 8: Cream of Tartar
Step 1: It may sound odd, but cream of tartar—typically used as a baking ingredient—acts as a polish when used to clean the oven. Spread it on the inside of the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Step 2: Wipe away the cream of tartar with a wet rag to reveal a polished oven that looks brand new.
Method 9: De-Crumb
Step 1: If your oven is filled with crumbs, you can remove the door to reach difficult areas. Turn to your appliance's instruction manual to learn how best to unhinge the door; many have hinge locks that you can unlock with a screwdriver.
Step 2: Lift the door up and out to remove it and make room for a deep clean.
Step 3: Use a handheld vacuum to remove excess crumbs, then wipe the area down with oven cleaner before replacing the door.
Try to always clean up oven spills right when they happen, as they can get baked on, cause smoke, and even lead to fires.
Method 10: Water + Lemon
Step 1: For a natural cleaning method, ditch the chemicals and pick up a few lemons at the store. Fill a pan with water, then add the juice of two lemons.
Step 2: Place the pan in the oven and turn it on. Since water boils at 212 degrees, set the oven to 225 degrees to ensure it heats properly. When the water boils, the steam will break down grease and other stains.
Step 3: Turn off the oven and let it cool, then use a damp cloth to wipe down the interior.
Tips to Keep Your Oven Clean Longer
While you're planning to deep clean your oven every three months, it's also helpful to clean as you go. If you notice drippings from food, grease marks, or crumbs building up at the bottom of the appliance, be sure to wipe these away as soon as possible. Simple wipe-downs at regular intervals (every two weeks to every month, depending on use) help prevent caked-on spots from turning into stubborn stains down the road.
How to Get Rid of Streaks on Your Oven
A simple glass cleaner like Windex should be strong enough to remove most streaks on your oven's door, but for hardier streaks like grease stains, it's helpful to bring out the degreaser. Easy-Off Oven Cleaner or Goo Gone Oven and Grill Cleaner are two great examples of powerful cleaning agents—but if you already have another brand on hand, most cleaners designed for degreasing should do the trick.
How to Get Rid of and Prevent Smells in Your Oven
If you're dealing with unpleasant smells coming from your oven, choose a method that fights bacteria, grease, and any food build-up. To start, use either the water and ammonia (method 1) or white vinegar and baking soda (method two) steps. When stubborn areas remain and create bad smells, spot-treat them by scrubbing with non-diluted vinegar or a paste made of baking soda and water.
Scrubbing your oven every three months is the best way to keep it clean, fresh, and rid of bad smells, but you should also pay attention to the broiler drawer (if you have one) at least every other time you clean. Twice a year, pull out the drawer when cleaning the rest of your oven, and apply your method of choice. This extra step will fight the buildup of crumbs or grease that can keep your appliance from functioning at its best.