How To Clean Ovens: Efficiently And On A Budget
Find out how to clean ovens efficiently and thoroughly. We also included a list of products which are the best when it comes to cleaning your oven.
There is nothing better than a homemade dinner. But as much as we love cooking and enjoy the food that we have made, there is often that moment when you have to deal with cleaning. And we are not talking about washing the dishes – you can always use the dishwasher and enjoy that interesting movie with your family while they are getting cleaned. Instead, there is something that people often tend to forget about after they are finished cooking and is most of the time inevitable – the dirty and greasy oven.
The aim of this guide is to provide you with some useful tips and tricks on the best ways to clean your oven after you have finished cooking. You will find a step-by-step procedure that will guarantee that you will get rid of spatters and drips with just some homemade solutions.
Done with the cooking? What about the dirty oven?
One thing is sure – spatters and drips are always inevitable after you finish using your oven. Heated oil tends to pop here and there which leaves your oven and its front glass with these annoying little greasy spots. People often neglect cleaning the oven right after they are done with cooking which means that all these spatters and drips will harden and will become tougher to be removed. Of course, no one tends to clean the oven after each and every use, but making sure to wipe the stains every once in a while is a necessity.
The months of baking and roasting in your oven often have their consequences as it gets grimy and a good amount of grease builds up here and there. Add to that the charred food that accumulates in the corners of the oven, as well as the fan’s holes, the lights and other hard-to-reach areas. All this dirt has the ability to turn into carbon and cause an unpleasant, yet very strong smell when you warm up your oven once again. The high temperature makes these carbon debris burn which poses some significant risks for the overall operation of your oven, as well as the quality of the food you cook inside.
In a parallel universe, a cook will always clean his oven right after he is done using it. But we can all admit that none of us does that. Even if you have missed cleaning your oven for 6 months or more, although you won’t be considered as the most caretaking housekeeper, you can still get your oven cleaned and shiny as new.
Give the auto-cleaning function a try
Keeping your oven clean takes very little effort. Try it and you will be amazed how quickly and effectively you can get rid of the burned ash, greasy spots, crumbs and food buildups that you have neglected for so long.
First of all, before you go for some manual cleaning, you may be willing to give a try to your oven’s self-cleaning function. Do not be surprised if you find out that your machine in fact has such option – many people fail to realize that for years to come, if they do not pay enough attention or avoid reading the manufacturer’s handbook. Although self-cleaning functions are not always as effective as the manual cleaning, they are still an option that you may try, if you do not want to get your gloves on and deal with that nasty spatters and drips.
Oven’s self-cleaning functions are based on a heating cycles that go up to 900ºF and run for up to 4 hours. After the cleaning function is started, the oven’s door will be locked for additional safety measures, while the high heat burns the buildups and debris. When the process is about to end and the temperature drops to levels where the oven is safe to open, all you will need to do is to wipe the white ash that the food buildups and debris were turned into with the help of a wet cloth. And that’s it – didn’t take much effort, did it? Although you may feel that funky smell around your house, while the self-cleaning function is on, with just an open window for some ventilation, this method is worth trying.
Basically this is the easiest way to clean your oven. Yet it is not always as effective as when you use some homemade mixtures and scrub them all around the oven.
DIY oven-cleaning methods
There are numerous ways to clean your oven with some homemade solutions. Here are the most effective ones that will do the job for you and will take just few minutes to be mixed:
1) The mighty baking soda
The baking soda is present in each and every home. The so called “sodium bicarbonate” is a natural mineral that has the abilities to decompose hard proteins, oils and other solid dirt. Mixing a box of baking soda with water will result into a paste-like substance that is very effective for rust, dirt, grime and grease removal. In order to enhance the cleaning power of the mixture, some DIY pros suggest adding vinegar as in the video below.
Before you start cleaning with baking soda, make sure to remove the oven’s racks. Put them into a bucket of hot water, mixed with vinegar and leave them that way for a while. When it comes to applying the soda, you have to choices – either to mix it with water until you get that paste-like substance or spread it all across the oven and then spray water all around it. If you decide to take the baking soda and sprinkle it all around the oven, you should then fill a spray bottle with water and vinegar and start spraying them all around the thin layer of baking soda. Make sure it does not get too damp. Leave the oven for half an hour and repeat the process for few more hours. Make sure to spray water every time you find that the baking soda is beginning to dry out.
After you have repeated that process few times, it is time to get a sponge and start scraping the soda out of the oven. You will notice that alongside with the soda, there are these nasty food buildups and debris that are released too. But do not hurry to start feeling like a winner – you’ve got some more work to do. If you notice that there are some harder buildups that do not get away with the sponge, use a steel or plastic scrubber. They will surely be removed.
Now get a bucket with fresh water and swab the soda that is left within the oven and its hard-to-reach corners. Make sure to change the water a few times. After you are finished, leave the oven open for a few hours in order for it to dry out.
2) Hot water and steam
Another very popular way to remove buildups, spatters and drips, that is way easier to apply, when compared to the soda-vinegar mixture, is the hot water and steam method. It requires an oven-proof container that is filled with water to be placed on the lowest rack, in the center of the oven. After you do this, make sure to close the door and turn the oven on. Leave it running on the highest temperature for approximately 30 minutes. After these 30 minutes have passed, turn the oven off and leave it to cool down for as long as it takes but without opening the door. What makes this method effective is the generated steam. The water in the oven-proof container will start boiling and the steam will react with the buildups, leading to their effective loosening. After that, all you need to do is to get a damp cloth and wipe the oven all across its surface. You will be amazed how much of the nasty dirt is removed.
Bear in mind that this method is not so effective if significant grease is present. The hot water and steam method is a good choice if your oven is relatively clean. Otherwise, you should focus on choosing a more aggressive method, like the abovementioned one.
If you do not have the time to deal with homemade mixtures and want to bring out the big guns, then you can head to the store and buy a cleaning chemical-based solution. When it comes to oven-cleaning products, there is a wide range of options that you can choose from and all of them at a reasonable price.
For example, one of the most popular choices, when it comes to oven cleaning products is the Easy-Off Oven Cleaner. You can get that for the price of $7.99 for an aerosol of 16 oz. It is a proven solution against heavy greasy buildups, as well as food spills, left for ages. It works its magic rapidly and you can finish with the cleaning of your oven for less than 10 minutes. The product wipes out easily and is suitable for cleaning cold and warm ovens.
If you do not fancy cleaning with aerosol sprays, then the Oven Pride Cleaning System 500g is a very good choice. It is called “a system”, because it contains a plastic rack bag, rubber gloves, sponge and a 500 ml bottle of cleaning chemical. This product requires to put the racks into the bag and pour half of the bottle inside. With the other half, you should tackle the dirt on the inside of the oven. This product is priced at approximately $14.
Oven Brite is another good choice, that is similar to the abovementioned product. It also comes with gloves and a bag but is priced way higher at $24.99 per 500 ml. It is highly chemical (a mix of sodium metasilicate, alkyl polyglycoside and potassium hydroxide) and working with it requires serious being extremely cautious.
A widely popular solution is the Mr. Muscle Oven Cleaner. It comes at a price of $14 for a can of 19 oz. Yet, the product is not so effective when it comes to hard buildups that have been piling up for months. It also smells bad which requires good room ventilation to be ensured. Nevertheless, if your oven is significantly dirty, you should choose something more aggressive.
If you want a product that is more “user-friendly”, then Citrusafe Oven Cleaner is your best shot. Based on the power of citrus oils, this cleaner removes significantly greasy and burned spots, while at the same time effectively handles sticky stained areas. While you are working with the product, you won’t have to deal with stinky smell as you will feel you are surrounded with oranges and lemons. The product comes at a price of $7.59 for 23 oz.
No matter which product you choose, make sure to read the producer’s instructions. Some of these products are highly chemical and can possess significant risk for your health. Be cautious and abide the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Useful tips and tricks
The fact is that you can’t stop your oven from getting dirty with the course of its exploitation. Oven cleaning is far from the most pleasant thing to do. Yet it is often necessary in order to ensure the proper operation of your oven and the delicious smell of your food. That is why, the better periodical maintenance you ensure and the more you reduce the potential accumulation of dirt and food buildups, the less frequently you will have to put your gloves on and spend your weekend in oven cleaning.
Here are some useful tips and tricks to help you reduce the amount of dirt and buildups your oven accumulates with the course of its exploitation:
On catching cooking overflows. Boiling oil or water often tend to overflow, thus spilling all over your oven. Placing a wide baking dish on the rack, below the dish that you cook in, will help you catch all those annoying overflows. That way you will get a suitable cover for the bottom and the sides of your oven. And after you finish cooking, that additional baking dish can jump straight into the dishwasher. If you do not have suitable baking dish, you can use aluminum foil or oven sheet – just make sure to place them directly on the rack, instead of the bottom of the oven. Otherwise you risk causing fire.
On keeping your oven clean. If you want to keep your oven as clean as possible, a good thing to do is to roast any meat and fish within cooking bags. That way you will avoid oil and fat spits. Also, if you intend to fight dirt and grease right after you finish cooking and before they have had the chance to harden up, then fill a heat-resistant bowl with water, leave it in the oven for 30 minutes at a high temperature. That way you will loosen all dirt and can easily wipe it out. Aside from water, the salt is also a good tool in the fight with food bubbles. Just make sure to toss some salt across the oven’s surface, while the spits are still liquid and leave it there to absorb them. Then get a towel and wipe what is left.
On racks cleaning. Another way to clean the rags is to put them directly inside the dishwasher (if they are made from stainless steel and can fit inside the washer). Turning the dishwasher on the highest temperature will ensure the effective cleaning of any greasy and dirty spots.
The only way to avoid getting your oven dirty is to not use it at all. Yet, with these simple tricks you will be able to significantly reduce the amount of food spits and buildups that you will have to deal with later. And even when it’s time to get your gloves on and clean your oven, you will be fully equipped with all the tools and knowledge about the easiest and most efficient ways to make your oven look like new.