How to clean an oven with baking soda, vinegar, lemons and more for quick results

These are the best ways to clean an oven quickly and efficiently using natural baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and more for super sparkling results.

clean oven and other appliances in modern kitchen
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The best methods for how to clean an oven may not be as obvious or as easy as you'd expect. If your oven is caked with burnt-on grease and food residue then you may think that only the most potent of oven cleaners or a professional, will be able to help... Rest assured, this is not the case and you can clean your best oven using baking soda, vinegar and lemons to naturally lift dirt and grime, from even the hard to reach areas.

If you've invested in a modern oven, you may even have the option of using your appliance's self-cleaning function. And of course, there are safe commercial oven cleaning products out there too if you'd prefer. So no, you don't need to use highly toxic cleaning products or spend a lot of cash either to get your oven clean, sanitized, functioning and looking just like new.

We spoke to Smeg about the best ways to clean an oven: 'There are two main methods to giving an oven a good clean. If your oven has pyrolytic cleaning, this is the simple, no effort required solution. It takes the oven up to 500 degrees Celsius and carbonises any stains, spillages or food debris. You're then left with a dusting of ash to wipe, requiring no chemicals or manual effort and just a cheap to run program. Smeg pyrolytic ovens don't even require any extra amp-age for installation, simply a 13amp. Alternatively, Smeg ovens offer a Vapor clean method which replicates soaking an oven dish in the sink. By adding a solution of water and washing up liquid in the oven's base, dirt is loosened and the oven is made easier to clean.' 

So considering an oven with a self-cleaning function could be the best route for you, you simply need to follow your manual to the letter. But, if you want to discover different cleaning methods for more traditional ovens, keep scrolling and check out our top tips from more experts in the world of cleaning. 

  • Take a look at our complete guide on how to clean a kitchen for more advice.

Woman cleaning an oven with spray

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Note: If your oven does have a self-cleaning function, but you would rather clean it yourself, you will need to check that cleaning yours manually doesn't affect your warranty.

1. Clear the oven of obvious food particles

To clean your oven, start by ensuring it's switched off and cool, then put on rubber gloves and remove any loose bits of food you can see lying on the oven floor or stuck to the shelves.

Hot tip: A damp sponge on a handle or an old washing up brush is good for this. Have a baking tray on the floor beneath the oven to catch the burnt food. You can then just flip it into the bin and clean the tray in the dishwasher.

2. Remove the oven racks, shelves and trays

Remove all oven racks and trays, then set them aside to clean while you're waiting for your oven cleaner or natural ingredients to work.

woman cleaning inside of oven

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3. Clean the inside of your oven 

Choose one of the following methods to clean the inside of your oven. Whether you use baking soda, vinegar, lemon or an oven cleaner, let it sit for as long as you are able to/recommended. Then when it comes to wiping down the inside, we protect our floors (and cut down on more cleaning) by laying down an old tea towel or newspaper beforehand. 

Hot tip: Rinsing the sponge after each wipe up will remove the grub rather than spread more dirt and bacteria.

How to clean an oven with baking soda

  1. Sprinkle baking soda generously over the oven's inside surfaces. For easier application, make a paste beforehand with a few drops of water. 
  2. Spread it evenly all over the inside of the oven and note that this will naturally need to be thicker in and around the corners.
  3. Leave this overnight or for a minimum of 12 hours to work its natural magic.
  4. If you have a particularly dirty oven then you can finish this off with a spray of white vinegar over the baking soda, letting it fizz and then wiping it down. 
  5. If using baking soda alone, simply scrub it all off with a damp micorfiber sponge, scourer or pumice to get into the especially grimy sections and to shift burnt on food.

How to clean an oven with lemons

This method is a great way to steam clean your oven which will not only get it clean naturally, but will also have it smelling super fresh. For this method, you will need two large fresh lemons and a small ovenproof bowl. Heat your oven to 250 degrees and cut your lemons in half, putting them in the bowl. Place this in the oven for an hour, at which point turn the oven off and open the door to help it cool. 

When the oven is warm but cool enough to touch, put on your gloves and wipe down the inside with a damp cloth. Use a scourer or pumice for tough areas and get into all the corners, the bottom, top and sides!

Easy, effective and super cheap too.

How to clean an oven with lemon juice and baking soda

For this two-step oven cleaning method, you will need baking soda and two large fresh lemons. Sprinkle the baking soda liberally all over and inside the oven. Add a little bit of water and, while wearing protective gloves, scrub vigorously with a scrubber. Let sit for five to 10 minutes. Then squeeze the fresh lemons into a large mixing bowl or bucket of warm water. Start washing off the baking soda with a cloth or old towel. When all the buildup is gone, go over with the lemon water again – this will leave a fresh scent and give that sparkling, streak-free finish. 

clean inside oven

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How to clean an oven with oven cleaner

Prefer the old school method? If so, spray your favorite oven cleaner all around your oven, onto the roof, right at the back and in all corners. Leave the solution to soften any stubborn burnt-on food, follow the time recommendations on your product – usually at least 30 minutes, but often a few hours. Always wear gloves, have the oven switched off and read the packet instructions before use.

oven top

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4. Clean the oven top

Baking soda and vinegar will get burnt-on stains off your stove top, too. Simply sprinkle the baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda if that is all you have) all over the stove, then spritz with white vinegar. Let this soak in for at least 30 minutes before scrubbing, ensuring the soft sponge you use won't scratch the surface.

5. Clean the oven door

For the finishing touch, remove any stuck-on food using a glass scraper or scourer. To stop puddles on your kitchen floor, place an old towel under the gap between the oven and where the door opens. Now remove all grease with hot water and washing up liquid/dish soap or your oven cleaner. Wipe the glass door dry with paper towels removing all cleaning product residue. Never take your door apart unless your manual says you can without damaging the warranty (and not to mention the oven itself).

Put the clean racks and trays back into your oven and you are done! Bravo.

Wiping the inside of an oven door wearing rubber gloves

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How to get baked-on grease off an oven?

If you have grease residue and burnt stuff on the bottom of your oven – delightful – don’t worry. Simply sprinkle baking soda on the scorched food and leave to soften overnight. The following morning you’ll be able to wipe away any stubborn stains using a sponge and warm water.

Another trick is to use lemons again. Simply cut four or five in half, squeeze their juice into a baking tray and put the squeezed lemon halves in the tray, too. Set the oven at 250°C and cook the lemons for 30 minutes. The steam from the lemons will steam clean your oven. Once it's cooled, wipe it out with a sponge and rinse.

To really tackle hard to reach areas, especially the corners, use an old toothbrush to clean your oven. Soak the bristles with your oven cleaner or baking soda as above and scrub vigorously. 

Hot tip: Use the spray bottle to spray clean, warm water into the corners when you're rinsing them of cleaning product. This is also a great idea if you're cleaning with vinegar around the home.

What's the most effective oven cleaner?

If lemon and baking soda/vinegar aren't quite cutting it, it may be time to invest in one of the best oven cleaners for your appliance. Although we're all for cutting down on commercial cleaning products, ovens are a bit of an exception due to the sheer amount of built-up grease and burnt-on food they can accumulate. Sometimes you'll just get better results from a thick, creamy oven cleaner: it will coat and dissolve the grease and deodorise your oven far better than an all-purpose cleaning spray.

oven cleaning

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Should you use the oven's self-cleaning function?

As mentioned, the self-clean function usually means heating your oven to very high temperatures that reduces the burnt on food to ash, that you then have to clean out of the bottom of the oven. However, there are mixed reviews about this way of cleaning. As, if you haven't removed enough stuck on food then it can be unsafe and is of course, not worth the fire hazard. With the amount of elbow grease involved, we would actually advise you to choose a natural manual method or to use an oven cleaner instead.

If you absolutely want to go down this road – perhaps you have a more modern smart oven – then make sure you read all the manufacturer's instructions and ventilate the room. As mentioned, sometimes cleaning a self-cleaning oven yourself rather than using the functionality can void your warranty so do check this with the manufacturer.

How to keep your oven clean

  • Protect as you cook: Line the base of your oven with foil or an oven sheet before you start cooking. Roast meat and fish in cooking bags or a roasting tin with a lid to stop fat spitting around inside the oven.
  • Remove trays fully: Always fully remove trays when inspecting food halfway through cook time, to prevent any grease splashing off the side.
  • Treat burnt-on food ASAP: Leave baking soda on top of stubborn stains overnight to remove.
  • Steam clean regularly: After cooking, put a heat resistant bowl of water inside the oven for 20 minutes on a high temperature. This loosens grease so you can wipe the surfaces easily with paper towels or a wet cloth afterwards.
  • Watch for stove top spills: Wipe up spills as they happen so that your stove top doesn't let the side down.

cinnamon buns in a clean oven

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Expert tips on how to clean an oven

Melissa Maker author of Clean my Space and creator of one of our favorite YouTube channels suggests 'Cleaning an oven really should happen on a really regular basis... It's really important you're staying on top of this and to clean your oven when you start to see and sell those cues.' Like smoke from burnt spills and the like.' When tackling the cavity of the oven, Maker uses a scraper and paper towels to remove both loose and stuck on food, 'I'm using this scraper to do some cursory cleaning' making it easier when she comes to the actual cleaning. And for the solution? 'I'm making up a solution: 4 parts baking soda, 1 part dish soap and 1 part water... You want a nice thick paste.' Maker waits 30 minutes before using a scrub pad to brush off the dirt.

Next some oven cleaning hacks from Mrs Hinch who tackles burnt-on bits at the bottom of her oven with Elbow Grease,

Now it's time to get cooking!