Is It Time to Clean Your Oven?

Here’s what you need to know to do it easily and safely.

Published Dec. 21, 2022.

How often do you clean your oven? If you are like most people, probably not very often. 

Drips from fruit pies, splatters from roasts, globs of melted cheese that burned onto the bottom of the oven: These things add up to a grimy, blackened oven. 

If you never clean your oven, you might fill your kitchen with smoky fumes instead of fragrant food scents next time you use it. Worse, you run the risk of starting a grease fire inside the oven that could leave it broken and even endanger your home.

Here’s how to clean your oven.

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1. Safety First

Whether you are cleaning by hand or with a self-clean cycle, make sure there is plenty of ventilation. Open the window, turn on your range hood fan, and move pets and kids out of the room. But don’t leave home, so you don’t leave the hot oven unattended, suggest oven manufacturers Whirlpool and KitchenAid

If you’re cleaning the oven yourself, wear rubber gloves and old clothes or an apron, and cover the floor around your oven. Many oven cleaning products are pretty strong, and you don’t want to risk your skin, clothes or kitchen surfaces. 

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2. If You Have a “Self-Cleaning Oven”

Simply run the self-cleaning cycle, following your oven manufacturer’s instructions. Self-cleaning cycles work by making the oven extremely hot—upward of 800 degrees in some cases—literally burning off any residue and turning it to ash, which you need to wipe out afterward with a damp cloth. Depending on your oven, this cycle, which is sometimes referred to as “pyrolitic” cleaning, can take up to 4 hours.

Some ovens also have “steam-cleaning” cycles, which run about 400 degrees, for lighter cleaning. These cycles are also much shorter than full self-cleaning ones, often as fast as 30 minutes. Again, you’ll need to wipe out loosened residue afterward.

Lost your oven’s manual? Look all around the oven for its brand and model number, and then go to the manufacturer’s website, where you can usually find a downloadable/readable manual—or ask customer service reps for the “official” cleaning advice for that brand. 

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Here are some things to keep in mind when using the self-cleaning function.

  • Remove oven racks. Most manuals recommend that you remove the oven racks or their finish may be damaged, making them dull and harder to slide in and out after the cycle runs. 
  • Make sure the oven is empty. Take out any pans, foil, oven liners, etc., and don’t leave anything on top of the oven or in a storage drawer, if you have one—plastic items may melt.  
  • Wipe up any huge greasy spills before you start. This will lessen fumes and make the cleaning cycle safer.
  • Never use oven-cleaning products. You can void the warranty and damage your oven. (It’s OK to use dish soap and water to clean between self-clean cycles, though.) 
  • Scrub the oven window before the cycle starts. Be sure to use a sponge or scrub brush to clean the oven window or grime may bake on. Wipe around the door openings, including any gaskets, but be careful not to soak or damage them. 

3. Don’t Have a Self-Cleaning Oven? Use an Oven-Cleaning Product 

There are several aerosol sprays, gels, and liquids on the market. These use lye, solvents, or other grease-cutters to dissolve old baked-on foods from your oven. You can choose unscented or fume-free versions to make the job a little more pleasant. 

Some work very quickly, and can be used for spot-cleaning between deep cleanings, but most require a few hours to sit on the oven’s interior surfaces and loosen residue. Some work best if the oven is slightly warm. Turn it on to warm (175 to 200 degrees F) for 15 minutes, then shut it off before you spray. Follow all instructions on the cleaning products label very carefully for best results. 

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4. Keep It Clean 

Now that you’re enjoying your clean, shiny oven, try not to let it go so long between deep-cleaning days. If you see spots and dribbles in the oven after you cook, wipe with a damp cloth or scrub lightly with a sponge once the oven has cooled off.

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