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How to Clean an Oven Quickly and Painlessly

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Raise your hand if you've ever wondered how to clean an oven. You're not alone: this most-used household appliance can get pretty dirty, thanks to all the spills, crumbs, and other debris left behind every time you cook. Combine those tough kitchen messes with an oven's high temps, and you have the perfect recipe for hardened, caked-on filth that can be a challenge to remove — making the question of how to clean an oven a headache that most of us try to avoid.

Fortunately, we have your guide for how to clean on oven effectively and easily — and you don't need any special cleaning products or tools. In fact, everything you need to clean your oven may already be in your kitchen cupboards. Forget the harsh household cleaners; these brilliant cleaning tricks get the job done well while keeping the air in your home safe and fresh. With a little time and effort, your oven can be smudge-free and stain-free in no time. Now, let's get to work!

How to Clean an Oven Fast

How long does it take to clean an oven? As every domestic goddess knows (come on, give yourself a little credit!), an oven is a prime spot in the home for collecting hard-to-reach dirt and dried up spills. In the past, you may have gone to town on the appliance, scrubbing it like crazy with spray cleaners and soap — yet still never achieving that mess-free, just-like-new condition you want. Time to forget those old ways: Cleaning your oven is a lot simpler than it seems.

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How simple? Well, let's kick it off with the fact that the perfect gentle cleaner for your oven is already in your kitchen: a combination of water, baking soda, and vinegar. Other than a mixing bowl, an old rag and a sponge, that's actually all you need.

There may be readers wondering how to clean an oven door, how to clean an oven rack, or how to clean an oven window — and we have good news for you: this simple cleaning method works for all of the above. When it comes to what to use to clean an oven, a simple, DIY mixture of baking soda, water, and vinegar is safe to use in all areas of your oven and will have your oven sparkling for minimal effort.

How to Clean an Oven With Baking Soda

Got your baking soda ready? Don't worry, you needn't be a cleaning professional to get this appliance back to tip-top shape. Step by step, this foolproof list of instructions walks you through exactly what to do to clean your oven using baking soda.

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Step 1: Remove the racks. First thing's first: You need to remove the racks to get the job done. (Oven racks dirty too? As for what to clean oven racks with, skip to that section below.)

Step 2: Mix a baking soda paste. In the mixing bowl, blend a half a cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water (Note: You may need to adjust the amount based on how big your oven is.). When you get to a consistency where you have a spreadable paste, start spreading it inside the oven. You'll want to get it all over the interior, except for the heating elements.

Step 3: Wait. Let the mixture sit overnight in the oven for at least 12 hours. Expect the baking soda to turn brown. This is normal, so don’t panic.

Step 4: Use the vinegar. The following day, gently spread vinegar over the surface and allow it to react with the paste, which will make the debris much easier to scrub off. If you prefer, you can try to scrub off most of the debris without the vinegar to use less, and then just use vinegar for any leftover residue.

That's it! While many people know baking soda saves you money around the home, it may be an eye opener that it's a top pick for what to use to clean an oven — and it's definitely a game-changer.

Bonus tip: if you’re looking for an even quicker way to clean your oven, just place a pot of boiling water on the bottom rack after cooking dinner. Wait 30 minutes, and then wipe off the leftover residue with a damp cloth.

How to Clean an Oven With Lemon

Cleaning an oven naturally is super easy and effective. And, because lemons and other citrus oils work great on grease, all you’ll need for this trick is two lemons, a little bit of water, a baking dish, and a scouring pad (like Scotch Brite's Heavy Duty Scouring Pads).

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First, cut your lemons in half and squeeze the juices into a baking dish. Once you’ve squeezed it dry, place the remaining lemon casings in the dish as well. Fill the dish 1/3 full of water and place it in the oven. Bake it at 250 degrees for 30 minutes.

Then, just sit back and relax! As the water and lemon juice heat up, the vapors will begin clinging to the grime, making it loose enough to wipe away.

Once your 30 minutes are up, remove the dish and let the oven cool. After the oven has cooled off, use a scouring pad to scrub away whatever is left inside. (Pro tip — use a spatula to remove larger, clumpier chunks.)

Use the remaining lemon water to rinse away the grime as you scrub. Keep sponging until your oven is clean. Then, dry with a towel.

Please note, the oven will smoke during this process. Just be cautious — be sure to turn on the oven fan and open a window.

How to Clean a Self-Cleaning Oven

If you bought a self-cleaning oven, congrats! You’re halfway there.

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First, you’ll need to remove all oven racks, foil, and anything else that is removable from the internal oven. Refrain from spraying any type of cleaner inside of the oven and dispose of the foil and wash racks in the sink.

Once you’re looking at the bare bones of your oven, flip on the self-cleaning switch. Self-cleaning cycles usually last three hours. Because the oven temperature gets extremely hot during this cycle, you should expect the oven to smoke.

When the cycle ends, let the oven cool down for a few hours. Then, using a damp cloth or sponge, wipe the ash and other debris from the inside of the oven. Be sure to pay special attention to the seals and the front exterior of the oven door as these areas will not be cleaned by the self-cleaning cycle. You can easily clean these areas with a damp cloth and hydrogen peroxide.

How to Clean a Glass Oven Door

If you thought cleaning the oven was easy, then you’re going to love this quick tip for cleaning a glass oven door. Just add a little bit of water to ¼ cup of baking soda and mix to form a thick paste. Then, open the door, spread the paste across the inside glass with a sponge. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes, then wipe it off with a damp sponge. Finish by buffing with a paper towel and viola! Your oven door glass will be good as new.

How to Clean Oven Racks in the Bathtub

Most oven racks can be washed in the sink with dishwashing liquid and water. (Only some oven racks are dishwasher-safe, so be sure to consult your oven manual if you want to take that cleaning route.) But since using your sink might be challenging due to space constraints, an easier option involves your bathtub or a plastic trash bag.

First, fill the tub with very hot water, just enough to cover the oven racks. Add up to 1/2 cup of dishwashing soap (or up to 3/4 cup laundry detergent). Let sit overnight. Alternatively, you could sprinkle baking soda over the oven racks, then douse them with vinegar. Once the foaming stops, submerge the racks in a tub of hot water and let sit overnight.

In the morning, dig through your box of old cleaning supplies and find an old dish towel to scrub the racks with, dislodging any caked-on grease and grime. For really stubborn bits, an old toothbrush can help your cleaning efforts: sprinkle sea salt on the old toothbrush to make the scrubbing more abrasive and carefully brush the hard-to-clean spots. Afterwards, rinse the racks thoroughly before returning them to the oven.

As an alternative to using your bathtub to clean oven racks, you can also place your oven's racks in an unused trash bag with a 1/2 quart of ammonia. (Warning: You may want to do this outside, or in a very ventilated room with plenty of open windows and even a fan.) You should also wear a mask to protect yourself from ammonia's harsh fumes. Seal the bag and let sit overnight. In the morning, rinse the racks thoroughly and replace.

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Can you clean an oven with bleach?

Yes, but we don't recommend it. The general purpose for using bleach is either as a disinfectant, such as killing bacteria or mold, or to remove color or boost the cleaning efficiency of certain laundry detergents. For cleaning an oven, you're better off using a solution that's specifically designed to cut through grease and hardened foods, such as a commercial oven cleaner or the DIY mixture of baking soda and vinegar described above.

If you decide to clean your oven with bleach, use only a small amount and dilute it with at least four parts water. Then, be sure to rinse the oven thoroughly before using any heat in your oven. It's important to note: Household bleach (sodium hydroxide) is not technically speaking considered corrosive or toxic, even if ingested, but bleach exposure can cause irritation in the eyes, mouth, lungs and on skin. You should also follow the standard bleach safety tips you'd use anytime you're working with bleach for regular loads of laundry: staying in a well-ventilated area and protecting your eyes and skin.

Can you use Coca-Cola to clean an oven?

There's an internet rumor out there that Coca-Cola (and other soda products) makes for fantastic cleanser because it can cut through grease effectively (and it's also cheap, and probably readily available in your fridge). But to us, it sounds like a sticky, bubbly disaster-in-the-making. So, what gives?

While Coca-Cola may make an easy household cleaner for things like cookie sheets and dirty pots and pans with caked-on debris and grease, we don't recommend it for cleaning your oven. It still requires plenty of elbow grease with a scouring pad to lift the worst of the stains, it contains sugar, and it's certainly a sticky solution. You're far better off using baking soda to clean your oven, as described above.

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