Cleaning your oven can help extend its life and prevent a burnt-on mess from leaving a bad smell in your oven, kitchen or food. Many ovens have a self-clean feature, but using the self-clean feature isn’t necessarily the most efficient or effective way to safely clean your oven. Furthermore, using abrasive cleaners, scouring pads, steel wool pads or gritty washcloths to clean your oven may damage stainless steel surfaces.
Commercial oven cleaners have harmful chemicals that can cause health problems, so using these cleaners is not the proper way to safely clean your oven. Many cleaning supplies, including commercial oven cleaners, contain harsh chemicals that can irritate your eyes or throat or cause headaches or other health problems. Oven cleaners release dangerous chemicals, including Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which can contribute to chronic respiratory problems, allergic reactions and headaches. Research has shown a connection between exposure to chemicals in cleaning supplies and occupational asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Many oven cleaners contain sodium hydroxide (lye), a corrosive chemical that can burn your eyes and skin. Aerosol spray oven cleaners can be easily inhaled into your lungs.
Swallowing or breathing in toxic fumes from oven cleaner can cause serious symptoms , including (but not limited to) difficulty breathing; severe pain or burning in the nose, eyes, ears, lips or tongue; vision loss; abdominal pain; vomiting, possibly bloody; low blood pressure; burns or irritated skin.
The good news is that you don’t need harsh, toxic chemicals to clean your oven. The right way to safely clean your oven is to use baking soda paste and vinegar.
How to clean your electric oven:
Make a baking soda paste by mixing ½ cup of baking soda with 3 tablespoons of water.
Remove the oven racks and accessories. Use a non-abrasive paper towel to get rid of any large particles of burnt-on food mess from the bottom of the oven.
Using a toothbrush, scrub the oven with the baking soda paste to get rid of the remaining burnt-on mess. Do not clean the heating element. Be sure to clean the oven door. The oven door on most ovens is removable for easy cleaning. Don’t soak the door or window in a lot of water. The water can seep inside and cause staining or discoloration. Clean the door with the baking soda paste. Don’t use any abrasive cleaning pads, powdered cleaners or steel wool that scratch glass and enamel.
Let the baking soda paste sit for 30 minutes to three hours (or longer).
Meanwhile, clean your oven racks in the bathtub Put towels down in your bathtub to keep the oven racks from scratching your tub. Put the racks on the towels and cover them with hot water. Add ½ cup of dishwashing detergent and swirl the water around so it dissolves. Let the oven racks soak for at least four hours. Get rid of any remaining burnt-on mess by scrubbing with a toothbrush, non-abrasive scrub brush or sponge. Rinse and dry the racks before returning the clean oven racks to the oven.
Lightly splash vinegar over the baking soda paste in your oven and wipe it away with a non-abrasive paper towel or damp sponge.
Replace your clean oven racks.
Any remaining stains are the result of standard wear and tear and shouldn’t affect the life of your oven or cause a bad smell in the oven.
How to clean your gas oven:
Avoid getting the heating elements wet, especially when cleaning the broiler section below the heating elements. If you do get the heating elements wet, check to see if the oven will still light. If it doesn’t, dry the heating elements with a dry cloth or paper towel. If the oven still won’t ignite, you may need to wait until it dries completely. Use a hair dryer to speed the drying process.
The bottom of your gas oven requires the most cleaning. Remove the bottom panel by lifting it out or removing a few screws that hold it in place.
With the bottom panel removed, inspect and clean the gas burner. To check how the gas burner is working, turn it on with the bottom panel removed. If the flame isn’t continuous along both sides of the burner, some of the holes are clogged. Turn the oven off and insert a wire (like a coat hanger), toothpick or straight pin into the clogged holes. You can also gently brush the gas ports with a soft bristled brush. For pilot-less ovens, check the ports and area below the igniter and clear them. Debris below the igniter can prevent the gas burner from lighting.
After you clean the gas burner, check to be sure it’s burning efficiently. You should see a steady blue 1-inch cone, with an inner cone of about 1/2-inch. You can adjust the air shutter that controls the air mixture and the color of the flame. Consult your owner’s manual to learn how to adjust the burner flame on your gas oven.
To make it easier to clean your oven next time:
Clean up food spills each time you use the oven. Food spills containing acids, such as tomato, may damage the finish on porcelain enamel surfaces, so be sure to clean up these and other spills as soon as your oven is completely cool.
Do not line the oven bottom, cover the entire oven rack or cover any slots, holes or passages in the bottom of your oven with any type of liner or aluminum foil. Doing so blocks airflow throughout the oven. Air must move freely in your oven to achieve the best cooking results. Blocking airflow in your gas oven may cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Aluminum foil linings may trap heat, causing a fire hazard in your gas or electric oven. Using aluminum foil in your electric oven may result in a risk of electric shock.
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