Domestic Details: How To Clean Your Oven

This post may contain affiliate links. Read about my affiliate policy.

Step-by-Step-Tutorial-on-the-best-way-to-clean-your-oven-using-all-natural-productsCleaning the oven seems pretty horrific, which is why most of us rarely do it, if ever. Heavy duty oven cleaning products are scary, and the thought of getting down on one’s hands and knees to scrub charred gunk while inhaling toxic fumes is both stressful and exhausting (especially for individuals with very little upper body strength.)

Unfortunately, there are times in life when performing this task becomes unavoidable. Perhaps you moved into a new pad and the previous tenant screwed you with a disgustingly stained oven, or you mistakenly thought baking a fully loaded pizza straight on the rack was a good idea. Maybe you smoked out your apartment and almost caused a deadly grease fire because bacon fat had somehow managed to congeal on the oven floor, or your kitchen fills with a sketchy smell every time you pre-heat the thing. I could continue with these examples, but the moral of the story is: sometimes your oven just needs a really good clean. So, in the spirit of spring cleaning and domestic tutelage, I thought I’d give you a little lesson on the best way to do it.

Don’t panic, friends, all you’ll need for a gloriously sparkly oven is some baking soda, white vinegar, and a little patience. Basically, you rub the interior with a baking soda paste, let it sit overnight to break down any nasty residues, and then wipe everything down with a damp rag and some vinegar. The whole shebang requires less than half an hour of hands-on labor, and there’s zero risk of death by chemical cleaner or aching muscles from hours of fruitless scrubbing. Thank God. For your cleaning pleasure, I’ve included the nitty gritty details in a step-by-step tutorial below.

If you’re thinking, “UGHHH Serena, can’t I just use the “self-clean” thingie on my oven?” Yes, yes you can. But the truth is, you’ll still have to remove the charred food residue after the cleaning cycle, and the risk of setting off your smoke alarm in the process hovers somewhere around 99%. Not worth it.

How To Clean Your Oven (As Naturally And Painlessly As Possible):

1. MAKE SURE THAT YOUR OVEN IS OFF. I hate to state the obvious, but I worry about some of you.

2. Remove the racks from your COOL oven and set them aside. (We’ll tackle those in a minute.) Using a damp rag, remove any obvious crumbs and loose residue from the floor and sides of the oven.

3. In a small bowl, mix half a cup of baking soda with a splash of water (1-2 tablespoons should do it) to form a thick white paste.

4. Use your hands to rub the paste allllll over the interior of your oven, carefully avoiding the heating elements. Seriously, get in there, people, and make sure you don’t forget the door. (Do the door last, or you will get covered in disgustingness when you lean into the oven. Duh.) I highly recommend wearing rubber gloves for this task, but you’ll survive without them.

5. Close the oven door, and let the paste work its magic overnight. Patience is a virtue.

6. Now it’s time to show your oven racks some love. You’re not going to like this, but the best way to clean these babies is in the bathtub. Cover the floor of the tub with an old towel (this will prevent the racks from scratching the tub), and place the oven racks on top. Fill the tub with about 6 inches of very hot water and a few squirts of dish washing liquid. Let them soak for at least 2 hours or overnight (the longer the better). Once the racks have soaked, use a damp cloth to wipe them down. Most of the gunk should come right off after the soaking, but if there are any stubborn stains/food particles, scrub them with a sponge or non-abrasive scrub brush. Done and done.

7. Back to the oven! Use a damp rag to remove as much of the baking soda paste from the inside of your oven as possible (it will most likely be a very unappealing shade of brown by now). You may need to rinse out the rag a few times to complete the process.

8. Pour a little white vinegar into a spray bottle and spritz the interior of your oven, focusing on any spots with remaining baking soda residue. The vinegar will foam slighty when it comes in contact with the baking soda. (That’s a good thing.) Use the damp cloth to give your oven a final wipe down, focusing on the areas where there’s baking soda/vinegar foam. (Don’t have a spray bottle? No biggie. Just pour a little vinegar on your rag and go to town.) At this point your oven should be pretty clean and sparkly.

9. Replace your oven racks and chest bump the nearest human being. Domestic and proud!

Domesticity is all in the details, friends. Bow to your sensei.

*If you have a burning question that you’d like featured on a future edition of Domestic Details, don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments. Help me help you.

Shop this post

Never miss a post!

Get new recipes and lifestyle tips delivered straight to your inbox.


  1. catherine on April 30, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    What happens if there is a small amount of baking soda left in the oven that I cant get out? is it safe to use? my oven has a tray/cover over the heating elements and a few sprinkles are stuck between under that (not on the heating element) that i can’t seem to get too!

    • Serena_Wolf on April 30, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      Not to worry! Baking soda is not toxic, corrosive or flammable, so it won’t hurt if you just let those leftover sprinkles be.

  2. Dixya Bhattarai RD on April 28, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    i need to get on this ASAP…

  3. Elizabeth Hazlehurst on April 26, 2014 at 10:51 am

    This sounds almost too good to be true, especially since most heavy duty oven cleaners have really toxic smelling fumes that trigger off my asthma, leaving cleaning the oven a job for the hubby… so naturally it hasn’t been cleaned for yonks. Will this still work on a very dirty/crusty oven?

    • Serena_Wolf on April 26, 2014 at 11:01 am

      This will definitely work on a scarily dirty oven! However, you may have to take a few extra steps. First, I would double up on the quantity of baking soda paste. After you let it sit over night and wipe it out, you may need to get in there with a spatula to pry up any hard residues and get a scrub brush involved on the more stubborn stuff. Godspeed.

    • Kiara Sexton on April 27, 2014 at 1:28 am

      I personally have done this on DISGUSTING ovens. I roasted 4 chickens Easter weekend and my oven was black. The smoke detector went off when I preheated my oven a few days ago and my neighbours slid a note under my door asking me to please stop whatever I was doing .

      I did the baking soda vinegar trick to great success. I needed my extremely tall boyfriend to help scrub some awkward angles and the door window wasn’t exactly sparkly see-through clean like it gets with the chemicals, but it was CLEAN. It smelt and looked spotless.

      • Serena_Wolf on April 28, 2014 at 8:42 am

        AH! This is excellent news. The awkward angles can be tricky (long-handled scrub brushes help), but I’m glad you were able to put that tall boyfriend to such good use.

Leave a Comment