If it’s a job you hate, you’re not alone. Oven cleaning ranks as one of the least favourite domestic chores. But dirty ovens don’t work well, food cooked in them gets tainted with stale or unsavoury flavours and at worst they can be a fire risk. So sooner or later the job has to be done.
In the long run, regular cleaning is much easier than tackling the bottom of the oven when you just can’t bear to look inside the appliance anymore. But even if you’ve neglected your oven, the right tools and materials and a little bit of know-how will cut down on the time and effort involved in returning your cooker to cleanliness.
This post is for you if:
You don’t know the best way to clean your oven floor.
Want to know what materials and detergents are best for oven cleaning.
Are having a hard time getting rid of baked-on grease or food debris from your oven floor.
What you need
Before you start, gather together the tools and materials needed for deep oven cleaning. These will vary slightly depending on exactly how you decide to do the work but are likely to include most of the following:
Protective sheets or newspaper
A plastic or silicone spatula
Disposable cloths or paper towels
General-purpose kitchen cleaner
Specialist oven cleaner
A spray bottle
How to clean an oven bottom with baking soda
Unplug the oven if you can. Make sure it’s switched off.
Whatever method of oven cleaning you’re planning to use, start by spreading protective sheeting, cloth or newspaper in front of the oven and take out all racks, thermometers or any other removable components. Racks and trays can be soaked in hot water with detergent to loosen the grease then scrubbed off and rinsed later.
Put on your gloves, it’s going to be a dirty job. And since you don’t want to splash anything in your eyes, don those safety goggles too.
Before considering how to remove accumulated grease from an oven, it’s best to start by removing loose debris. Do this by scraping it out with a spatula or gathering it together using lightly dampened disposable cloths or paper towels. Have a rubbish bag handy to dispose of used up cloths and towels as you go along.
Mix a baking soda paste, there are various recipes for this. You can use water or mix a baking soda and vinegar oven cleaner. Vinegar adds cleaning power but will cause the mixture to fizz. The paste should resemble a thick batter so it will stick to surfaces.
Make as large a quantity as you need to clean the bottom of the oven and while you’re at it you might as well do the sides too. Don’t coat heating elements. Baking soda is inexpensive so be generous. Dirty spots on the bottom of the oven should be coated with around a quarter of an inch of paste.
If the cooker is very dirty, once it’s coated, close it up and forget about it for at least 12 hours. It’s best to leave the mix overnight. Oven cleaning is a great excuse to order in a takeaway!
Once the cleaning paste has had time to do its work remove it with dampened disposable cloths or paper towels. This is going to take some time. Once you’ve removed all the paste you can with cloths use a spray bottle to apply vinegar to the surfaces. The vinegar will cause any remaining soda to fix, which makes it easier to spot and easier to remove. Again, wipe away the dirty mix using disposable or paper towels. Once the oven is dry you can replace the cleaned racks and trays and you’re good to go.
How to clean an oven bottom with vinegar
Even when you’re relying on baking soda as your primary cleaning ingredient, vinegar plays a crucial part as well. Some people dispense with the soda and rely much more on the grease busting properties of vinegar to get the oven clean. Here’s how to clean the bottom of your oven with vinegar:
As with baking soda, start by putting on your protective equipment spreading protective covers on your kitchen floor, and remove loose debris from the oven.
At this stage, you’ll need to put a single rack back into the bottom of the oven and switch it on. Fill a large metal pan with hot water and add half a cup of white vinegar. Put the pan in the oven and heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Let the water bubble and steam until the vinegar has had a chance to coat all the surfaces, that’s likely to take around 30 minutes to an hour.
Turn the oven off, open it and spray down the sides with a half and half vinegar and water mix. Be careful as you do this, the oven will still be hot. Close the oven up and let the mix do its work for a few hours.
Once the oven is fully cooled you can open it up and wipe it out. If there are any stubborn marks remaining, spray with more vinegar or scrub with vinegar and soda paste. One advantage of this method is that the vinegar steam will also break down grease on the oven glass door.
If you’re not convinced by natural cleaners there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use bought products instead or as well. If you’re one of those virtuous people who really do clean out the oven with every use then wiping down the oven bottom with a strong washing up liquid solution may be all you need. Just be sure to rinse thoroughly so your next meal doesn’t taste of soap!
If the oven bottom needs more than a quick wipe, you have a couple of options. Follow the usual steps to protect your floor and yourself then:
Use baking soda as above but add a few drops of commercial cleaner to it.
Soak a rag with a 1 part cleaning product 4 parts water mix and lay it on the base of the oven. Wet the rags afresh every few hours. Once the burnt-on grease is softened wipe it away with dry rags or paper towels.
Start with the vinegar steam as described above then use a strong washing liquid or general kitchen cleaner to remove dirt on the oven bottom.
Buy a specialised oven cleaner and follow the instructions on the bottle.
How to clean a self-cleaning oven bottom
If you have a self-cleaning oven you may potentially be able to cut down on a lot of work. There are however a few things you should be aware of.
Don’t use the self-clean feature if there’s debris on the bottom of the oven. The oven cleans by heating to a very high temperature and if there’s lots of accumulated grease, you’ll end up with a very smoky kitchen at best. At worst you could start a fire.
Wipe down the inside of self-cleaning ovens regularly but don’t use harsh chemicals that could damage the self-cleaning coating. Check your owner’s manual to see what products you can safely use on your self-cleaning oven.
Since the cleaning feature works by burning off dirt make, sure the house is well ventilated. Pets that can be affected by the fumes from self-cleaning should be removed from your home.
Declare the kitchen out-of-bounds to children or any vulnerable people. The oven is going to get MUCH hotter than normal and you don’t want anyone to get burnt.
Try to keep self-cleaning cycles to a minimum. Some people believe that the very high temperatures required to achieve cleaning could shorten the life of the oven.
Resist the temptation to use the self-cleaning feature before a house party or any event where you’re relying on your oven. Consider booking an oven repair service if your appliance fails after cooking right before Christmas, so you can prepare those tasty meals in time.
It’s possible to buy oven liners that can be fitted to your oven base. Some are designed to be used a few times then disposed of, others can be cleaned, maybe even in the dishwasher.
The simplest liners are made of aluminium and are generally intended to be discarded when they get dirty. Don’t be tempted to just use baking foil though it’s too thin.
Alternatively, opt for a liner made of food-grade silicone, these can tolerate high temperatures but do check their rating before cooking at the very top of your oven’s range.
If you have a gas oven or your heating elements are in the base of the oven you’ll need to use liners on the bottom shelf or rack as they won’t withstand naked flames or direct contact with the elements.
So now you know how to clean your oven. But you may decide you don’t want to. That’s perfectly fine as there are professional cleaners that will do the job for you.
Specialist oven cleaners use eco-friendly cleaners and bring tanks to clean racks, trays and other removable components while they’re tackling the main body of the oven. They’ll take the oven apart, clean everything, put the oven back together, test it and make sure they leave your kitchen clean before they leave. Book professional oven cleaning today and save yourself the hassle!