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.

an oven in a modern kitchen with exposed red brick wall
(Image credit: B&Q)

Want to know how to clean an oven quickly but thoroughly? For many of us it’s up there among the least favorite kitchen chores, so getting great results without spending ages on the task is the solution we’re searching for.

And coming across a dirty oven that needs a scrub is inevitable when figuring out how to clean a kitchen. Spatters of grease, food particles, and any spills that occur mean that regular cleaning of the cavity, racks, and the glass of the door is one of the kitchen cleaning hacks everyone should master.

But how to do the job and get the best results in the minimum time and with the least effort? 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 an 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.

If you want to find out how to clean an oven quickly just follow our step-by-step guide including the inside track from the pros.

We spoke to Smeg (opens in new tab) 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 buying the best 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. 

Woman cleaning an oven with spray

(Image credit: Getty)

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.

How to clean an oven – inside and out

Cleaning an oven can feel like a laborious as well as time-consuming chore. But follow our steps and you can get the job done efficiently as well as effectively. Here’s how to clean an oven quickly.

You will need:

Safety first: When using a professional oven cleaner always be aware of the recommended safety precautions on the product and read the instructions thoroughly before use. Always wear rubber gloves and make sure your oven is switched off and cool before you start.

1. Use the oven’s self-cleaning function

Does your oven have one? If you're not sure – maybe you inherited from your home's previous owner – check in the manual (or online if you don't have it). If your oven self-cleans, you start the cleaning process following the manufacturer's instructions. 

That doesn't mean that you don't have to be involved, though. 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. Still there's a lot less elbow grease involved. Hot tip? Save this chore for a nice day so you can open the windows – there's usually a fair amount of smoke.

2. Clear the oven of obvious food particles

Self-cleaning functions aside, you can start cleaning your oven the old-fashioned way. First, change into old clothes as oven cleaning can get rather messy and put on rubber gloves. 

Then, remove any obvious bits of food you can see lying on the oven floor and stuck to the shelves.

Quick trick? A damp sponge on a handle or a body brush is good for this. Place a cookie sheet on the floor beneath the oven to catch the burnt food. You can then just flip it into the trash can and pop the cookie sheet into the dishwasher. Don’t forget that you’ll also need to be aware of how to clean a dishwasher.

3. Remove the oven racks

Remove all oven racks and leave them to soak in a sink (or the bathtub if your sink is too small) full of warm, soapy water. The combination of hot water and dish liquid will help break down any burnt-on food or grease residue. You may need to let it soak for a few hours or overnight. 

Quick trick? If you are short on time, place the shelves in a resealable plastic bag, spray all over with oven cleaner, seal the bag and leave the cleaner to work its magic for 30 minutes.

See our full guide to how to clean oven racks for all the tips and tricks to make this job as easy as possible.

woman cleaning inside of oven

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. How to clean an oven with baking soda and vinegar

If you're looking for a natural alternative, cleaning with baking soda is an option for an oven. Sprinkle it generously over the oven's surfaces (you might need to dampen them first to get it to stick), then spray white vinegar over the top. Leave for 30 minutes.

Prefer the old school method? if you're relying on a regular oven cleaning product then spray this all around your oven, onto the ceiling, 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.

5. Clean the inside of your oven 

Once the cleaning product or baking soda/vinegar has had a chance to work you’ll notice leftover food has started to loosen. Take a sponge and a bowl of warm, soapy water and begin wiping the inside of the oven. Rinse your sponge in the water and repeat this step until the oven is clean. Rinsing the sponge after each round will avoid spreading dirt. 

Time-saving trick? Spread a tea towel or newspaper on the floor before you start this step so you don't have to wash the floor afterward. 

6. Cleaning oven racks

Once you have soaked your racks use a scourer to scrub them clean. Turn them halfway through to make sure that they are spotless on both sides. Rinse with warm water and set aside to dry.

Quick trick? Make use of some good old Brillo Pads (opens in new tab) to remove anything really caked on.

7. How do I get baked on grease off my oven?

If you still have grease residue or burnt-on food inside your oven at this stage don’t worry. Simply sprinkle baking soda on the burnt food and leave it to soften overnight. The following morning you’ll be able to wipe away any stubborn stains using a sponge and warm water.

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.

Quick trick? Raid the fruit bowl for lemons, cut four or five in half, squeeze their juice into a cookie sheet, and put the squeezed lemon halves in the tray, too. Set the oven at 475°F (240ºC) 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.

8. Use a toothbrush to clean hard to reach areas

Wondering how to clean an oven in its hard-to-reach areas like the corners? The answer is to use an old toothbrush. Soak the bristles with your oven cleaner or use baking soda and scrub vigorously. 

Quick trick? Use a spray bottle filled with clean, warm water to spray into the corners when you're rinsing them of cleaning product. 

oven top

(Image credit: Getty Images)

9. How to clean your oven’s stove top

Baking soda and vinegar will get burnt-on stains off your stovetop, too. Simply sprinkle the baking soda over the stove, then spritz with vinegar. Let this soak in for at least 30 minutes before scrubbing, ensuring the soft sponge you use won't scratch the surface. 

Quick trick? Wipe up spills as they happen. Yeah, you knew we'd say that...

Wiping the inside of an oven door wearing rubber gloves

(Image credit: Getty)

10. Polish the oven’s glass door

For the finishing touch you’ll want your glass door to be gleaming. First remove any stuck-on food using a glass scraper or scouring pad. 

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 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).

Cleaning stainless steel? Like other kitchen appliances an oven may have stainless-steel surfaces that need attention, so follow the rules on cleaning stainless steel for these.

How to clean an oven with lemon and baking soda

For this two-step oven cleaning method, you will need baking soda and either two large fresh lemons or a bag of powdered citric acid. 

Step 1: 

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.

Step 2: 

Squeeze the fresh lemons into a large mixing bowl or bucket of warm water. If using citric acid, dissolve about a half a cup of the powder in the 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 a sparkling, streak-free finish.  

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.

clean inside oven

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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. 

The best steam ovens (opens in new tab)
Going for the latest healthy trend for steam ovens to kit out your new kitchen? We've found the best new models.

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

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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 (and cut down on elbow grease)

  • 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

(Image credit: Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash)

The best range cookers (opens in new tab)
Thinking big? Love the farmhouse look? Want a family-sized oven? A range cooker is a fail-safe investment.

Expert tips on how to clean an oven

Melissa Maker (opens in new tab)author of Clean my Space (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) who tackles burnt-on bits at the bottom of her oven with Elbow Grease (opens in new tab),

How do you clean a really dirty oven?

To clean a really dirty oven, you need look no further than your store cupboard. ‘We recommend taking the natural approach to oven cleaning with baking soda, vinegar, and water being the primary items used,’ says Danesh Deonarain owner of NYC-based house-cleaning service Galaxy Maids (opens in new tab).

‘For a really dirty oven, the key is to have the cleaning mixture sit on the dirty surfaces for some period of time. The longer it sits, the less elbow grease you have to use to scrub it off. For folks at home cleaning, we recommend overnight application of a one to two ratio of vinegar to baking soda.’

What is the easiest way to clean an oven?

We’re going to be straight with you here: the easiest way to clean an oven is with the self-cleaning feature. 

‘The self-cleaning function sets the oven to around 880ºF (470ºC), which incinerates food debris and leaves behind ash,’ explains Brian Nagele, CEO of Restaurant Clicks (opens in new tab), and who has owned and operated in restaurants in the Philadelphia area. ‘After the cycle, you can wipe out the ash with a damp cloth. This does a great job of removing grease and grime with minimal effort.’ 

But if your oven doesn’t self clean, try this solution from Elyse Moody, kitchen expert at Designer Appliances (opens in new tab). ‘For regular maintenance, we recommend placing an oven-safe baking dish filled with water, a little vinegar, and some dish soap in the oven and letting it steam at 225ºF (110ºC) for about 25 minutes to soften the baked-on grime. Then you can just wipe the gunk away – easy! You won’t have to scrub anything off the oven walls or the door or the glass. This is also what La Cornue recommends for cleaning its luxury ovens. It’s gentle and very safe. You’d want to do this after each time you cook something splattery, like a lasagna or a roast chicken.’

But bear in mind that this isn’t the answer to how to clean an oven if you’ve neglected the task. ‘It’s not tough enough to remove six months’ worth of baked-on grease,’ she adds.

How do I get burnt stuff off the bottom of my oven?

To get the burnt stuff off the bottom of the oven, try this pro trick from Jessica Randhawa of The Forked Spoon (opens in new tab). ‘The best thing to do is to spray it with a thick coat of Easy-Off, preferably fume-free, and let it soak for two to three hours. Then use a non-scratch sponge to wipe away the burnt stuff revealing a clean oven bottom.’

If you're giving your entire oven a good scrub – trays, glass, and all the rest – then you could use one of our top-rated oven cleaning products to help with this job. See them below and use them as per the instructions on the bottle. Some require you to leave the solution in your oven for a while, and others are a quick 20-minute job. The choice is yours.

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