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How to Clean an Oven Without Harsh Chemicals (even a really disgusting one!)

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How to Clean an Oven Without Harsh Chemicals (even a really disgusting one!)

How to Clean an Oven title

I know that a lot of people talk about “spring cleaning,” but once spring finally gets here, I want to go outside!  That’s why I’m more likely to tackle a couple deep cleaning projects in the winter, when we’re stuck inside anyway.

I can’t believe I’m going to show you my “before” picture of my oven.  It was so bad.  Like embarrassing bad.  Like “when’s the last time I cleaned this oven?…oh wait…never…and we’ve lived here for over 7 years” bad.

(My only excuse is that for part of that time I had four children under the age of 5 1/2, and although a lot of that time is a blur, I’m pretty sure I was lucky to even bake the things that bubbled over and made my oven crusty, nevertheless clean up after them!  That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.)

Anyway, despite my husband questioning my sanity as he walked by and saw me photographing our oven, I can’t very well do a post on how to clean an oven without showing you the before.  So…

How to Clean an Oven Before

(Judge if you will, just do it quietly… at least it’s obvious that I cook stuff, right? 😉 )

Told you it was bad.  Maybe I’ve just been letting it go all this time to give you a really stellar “before” picture to show you that if we can clean this, we can clean anything. 

Here’s how:

How to Clean an Oven Collage1:  I started by using my vacuum attachment to get rid of some of the crusty burnt-on crud at the bottom of the oven.  Getting the loose stuff out of the way made it easier to get at the baked on gunk.

2 -4: Mix a little water in with a bowl of baking soda to make a paste.  I suppose you could use a spoon to mix it and a washrag or something to put it on the oven, but I did both with my hands.  Just smear it all over the areas that need cleaned.  Then let it sit and work its magic for a few hours or overnight.

5: Some recipes called for just wiping the baking soda out after it had sat overnight, and others called for spraying with vinegar to allow the bubbly action to work.  I had my Dawn & Vinegar spray bottle handy, and almost dumped out the leftover mixture to fill with plain vinegar.  Then I realized that would be crazy.  This bad boy needed all the help it could get in the degreasing department!  So I sprayed with the mixture (about a cup of vinegar to about a tablespoon of Dawn) and let that sit for about 15-20 minutes before getting to work.

Now at this point, some testimonials claimed that “the oven will easily wipe clean.”  And hopefully yours will.  If yours is a hot mess like mine was, be prepared for a little investment of elbow grease.  I used a nylon dish scrubby and went to work.  Some parts just needed a quick hit and wiped reasonably clean, but I’m not gonna lie–the worst parts took a fair bit of scrubbing.  But it’s been seven years, people…I had it coming.

Once you think you’re done, you might notice a bit of a white “haze” from the baking soda after it dries.  Give it another squirt with plain vinegar and wipe with a paper towel, then it’ll be shiny and good as new.

dawn banner

Oven Racks

Obviously my oven racks were gross too, since the drips had to hit them before the bottom of the oven.  For those, we headed to the bathtub.

How to clean oven racksPut a few inches of hot water in the bottom of your bathtub, and add a good healthy squirt of blue Dawn (probably a few tablespoons).  I also sprinkled in some baking soda and dumped in a splash of vinegar, because why not–they clean everything else!  I let them soak for a few hours, then came back and hit them with my nylon scrubby.  A few stubborn spots needed a little extra attention, but they wiped pretty clean without a lot of effort!  I was very pleased with the results.

How to Clean an Oven After

So here’s the finished product.  If you want to be like Clark Griswold’s father-in-law*, you’ll notice a few spots on the bottom that could still use a bit more scrubbing, but this is real life and it was time to use the oven again, so I called it quits so I could make dinner.  As much as I’d like to be all Pinteresty-perfect, um…I’m not 🙂

The good news: Now that I’ve done the hardest work, I know it’ll be much easier to keep it clean.  If I can do this a few times a year, I think I’ll have considerably less scrubbing, and I’m pretty sure I’ll probably get rid of those last few spots too.

The best news: No harsh chemicals.  I don’t like the idea of using caustic, smelly chemicals in the same place where we cook our food.  I’ve used them in the past, and while they’re fairly effective, they’re also smelly and expensive.  This way was effective too, and I just feel a lot better about using my cheap old standbys–if I’m willing to put baking soda in the food I bake, I’m not concerned about the after-effects of using it to clean the oven.

We’d love it if you’d try this out, Pin it, and share it.  And if you get a chance to let me know that I’m not alone in having a disastrous oven like the “Before” picture, it would do my self esteem a world of good! 😉


national lampoons

*In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, when Clark finally gets all the lights glowing, instead of marveling at their beauty his father-in-law says “They’re not twinkling!”  Be cool.  Don’t be like Ed.

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