Cleaning 101: How to Clean an Oven

Want to know how to clean an oven the effective way? See how to clean the racks, glass door, and inside of your oven using simple cleaners like vinegar.

Want to know how to clean an oven the effective way? See how to clean the racks, glass door, and inside of your oven using simple cleaners like vinegar.

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Have you ever met somebody that actually likes cleaning an oven? I haven't. It's just flat out not fun. Some cleaning tasks I can get behind (I actually really like vacuuming), but oven cleaning isn't one of them.

Want to know how to clean an oven the effective way? See how to clean the racks, glass door, and inside of your oven using simple cleaners like vinegar.

So, I try to make it as easy and as painless as possible. It's on my Journey to Clean monthly tasks during the kitchen week, so it's something I've at least got to think about once a month. I don't do what you'll see in this post every month – that would be way too much work! Usually, when that task comes around on the cleaning schedule, I make sure there aren't any big spills and make sure my stove is nice and clean. But, every few months, I'll give the oven a deep clean – it usually only needs it that often.

As you can see, it needs cleaning, but my oven doesn't get overly dirty. You guys know I'm a big Instant Pot fan, so the oven just isn't something I use every night. Your mileage may vary…if you see that your oven needs a monthly cleaning, by all means, go for it!

Step 1: Remove and clean oven racks

By far, the dirtiest thing in my oven is always the racks. I'm pretty good at managing spills, but the racks usually take the brunt of my messes.

I have a somewhat unconventional way of cleaning these. I read this weird trick online a few years ago, and crazy enough, it works!

Remove all of your racks (I have a double oven, so I have 4) and place in the biggest bathtub you have. Fill with the hottest water you can…just enough to completely cover the racks.

This is where it gets weird. Take 8-10 dryer sheets and throw them in the tub.

Want to know how to clean an oven the effective way? See how to clean the racks, glass door, and inside of your oven using simple cleaners like vinegar.

Allow this to sit (no need to mix) for a few hours – the amount of time it takes for a clean cycle to run on your oven is perfect.

Want to know how to clean an oven the effective way? See how to clean the racks, glass door, and inside of your oven using simple cleaners like vinegar.

After a few hours, use the wet dryer sheets to scrub the gunk and grime off of your oven racks. Most of it should fall right off!

Want to know how to clean an oven the effective way? See how to clean the racks, glass door, and inside of your oven using simple cleaners like vinegar.

This is after wiping with almost no pressure. There's something about the softeners in the dryer sheets that takes baked-on messes off of stainless steel.

I usually have to also use a melamine sponge to get the really stubborn messes off. (I order mine from Amazon – they're just as good as the name brand, but so much cheaper!) The dryer sheets help break up the grime, so it's easier to scrub the gunk off than if you didn't soak your racks. (And, for really stubborn messes, a small scrub brush also helps.)

Want to know how to clean an oven the effective way? See how to clean the racks, glass door, and inside of your oven using simple cleaners like vinegar.

Once you've scrubbed your oven racks really well, make sure and spray them down with water to remove any extra film or residue.

This won't 100% make your racks look brand new – I don't know that this is possible without hours and hours of scrubbing. If you're willing to do that, go for it, but it's just not worth that to me…I want them clean, but they don't have to be perfect!

(And one more note: I do switch out the racks in my double oven when I clean them. I rarely use the bottom oven, so if I didn't do this, there would be one set of racks that was way dirtier than the other.)

Step 2: Clean inside of the oven

Now, if you're lucky enough to have a cleaning cycle on your oven, this is a no-brainer. The cleaning cycle gets the oven extremely hot for a few hours to basically turn any messes into ash, making it simple to wipe away. You'll need to pick a day you're going to be home for awhile and, preferably, a cooler day – this makes the house really hot!

Once that clean cycle is done and your oven cools down enough to not burn you (but is still warm), give everything a good spray with a vinegar/water combo and scrub any leftover stains with a melamine sponge. I usually have to go over glass stains a few times, as they tend to be the most stubborn – but the melamine sponge takes it right off.

Want to know how to clean an oven the effective way? See how to clean the racks, glass door, and inside of your oven using simple cleaners like vinegar.

Then, it's as simple as wiping any ash out of the inside!

Want to know how to clean an oven the effective way? See how to clean the racks, glass door, and inside of your oven using simple cleaners like vinegar.

If you don't have a cleaning cycle, there are still options for cleaning! 

You might have seen the method of making a baking soda paste and smothering it all over the inside of the oven; I don't recommend this at all. I've tried it and, trust me when I say that you will be cleaning baking soda out of corners of your oven for months. Not only can this bake onto the heating element and cause a fire, but it's almost impossible to completely wipe away. Try it at your own risk.

Instead, I like using the steam method. Fill an oven-safe dish with half vinegar/half water. You can get this boiling before putting it in the oven, but it's not necessary (it will speed up the process, though). Set your oven to 400 degrees and allow the mixture to boil for 30 minutes or so, creating steam. At that point, cut the oven off and leave the vinegar/water solution in the oven for a few hours (overnight if you can). Then, use your melamine sponge to scrub any baked-on stains. At this point, it's totally ok to use a paste made out of baking soda and a little bit of water to scrub especially stubborn stains! I just don't recommend caking it on the entire oven.

Step 3: Wipe down the outside

Want to know how to clean an oven the effective way? See how to clean the racks, glass door, and inside of your oven using simple cleaners like vinegar.

And now, the easy part (and the part that I do every month)! Simply give the outside of your oven a wipe with your vinegar/water combo and a microfiber cloth. I love that these cloths get glass streak-free without using fancy cleaners. If you have a stainless steel oven, you can see more about cleaning stainless steel in this post.

Want to know how to clean an oven the effective way? See how to clean the racks, glass door, and inside of your oven using simple cleaners like vinegar.

As much as I dislike cleaning an oven, it is nice to have it clean. 😉 With a little maintenance it's really not that bad! And, you get to tell people all about the cool way you clean your oven with dryer sheets. 😂

Catch up on the rest of the Cleaning 101 series with the links below!

How to Clean a Microwave

How to Clean Cast Iron

How to Clean a Top Loader Washing Machine

How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances

How to Clean a Dishwasher

How to Deep Clean a Dryer

How to Clean Upholstered Furniture

How to Clean an Oven (you're here!)

How to Clean a Mattress

How to Clean Grout

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4 Comments

  1. I have never used the cleaning setting on my oven; it came with the apartment and had no instructions – is there a reason you can’t leave the racks in the oven and have the dirt baked off of them too? I’ve seen recommendations of using it to clean BBQ grill grates.
    Truthfully, I rather like cleaning the oven. Everyone will leave you alone and it is very satisfying when it’s finished. I’d rather do it than most other jobs in the kitchen. I may give the self-clean a try when it gets cooler and I can leave the porch door open.

    1. I believe the racks can’t withstand that high of a temperature. My oven always instructs me to take the racks out before cleaning…I trust it! 😉 And yes, definitely recommended to do the self cleaning option on cooler days, it can make your home very hot.

  2. Thanks for posting this! This was great!