How to clean your oven
By Hannah Fox
With the right tools and tips, cleaning your oven can be effortless
Cleaning your oven may be one of those jobs that you put off for weeks, months, or even years on end. But, a clean oven will ensure your cooking environment is hygienic and you don’t get funny smells from burnt-on grease.
Read on for advice on keeping your oven clean, or head straight to our built-in oven reviews to pick out a self-cleaning model that can do some of the hard work for you.
Because oven grease can be stubborn, a lot of commercial oven cleaning products contain pretty powerful chemicals. These include ethylene glycol, ethers, methylene chloride, lye (sodium and potassium hydroxide), petroleum distillates and pine oil.
Oven cleaners can be extremely corrosive to skin and eyes, so it’s vital that you follow the instructions on these cleaners to the letter, including wearing the correct protective gloves, eyewear and clothing, and ventilating your room while the oven cleaner is taking effect.
If you’d rather go down the natural route, many people swear by natural remedies such as baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice.
You can make up a cleaning ‘paste’ of equal parts baking soda and white wine vinegar. Or, make up a mixture of lemon juice and salt and spoon it onto any stubborn areas of grease or burnt off food and leave for a few hours, before scrubbing off.
No matter what products you're using, you’ll need decent scrubbing brushes or sponges with scourers. An old toothbrush is also a good idea to help you get grease out of any nooks and crannies in the oven.
Be careful of using harsh scourers on a glass oven door, though. Which? has investigated instances of people’s oven doors shattering violently and it’s possible that scourers can introduce tiny scratches on the surface of the glass, which could leave it vulnerable to shattering.
Can I use a steam cleaner on my oven?
You can use a handheld steam cleaner to rejuvenate the inside of your oven and to remove stains from the oven door. The high powered steam and heat will help to loosen cooked on grease, grime and food without the need for any harsh chemicals.
However, be careful not to use the steamer near the oven's element, as this could damage it.
Discover which are the best steam cleaners to buy in our round up of the top models.
The internal cavity of your oven is the area most likely to get grimy and greasy through continued use.
- Start off by switching off your oven at the mains and laying out newspapers on the floor next to your oven to catch any dirt.
- First, use a dry brush to scrub off any initial bits of caked on food and sweep them onto the newspaper.
- Next, spray the interior of the oven with whichever cleaning products you’ve chosen to use. Make sure you get the sides, corners and ceiling, but avoid spraying the fan or the gas supply elements and pilot light if it’s a gas oven. Leave the product on for the required amount of time.
- If you’re using a baking soda and vinegar paste, it’s a good idea to leave it on overnight, as it will need longer to work.
- Finally, use your scrubbing brushes and scourers to sweep away the cleaning products and debris. Make sure you wear rubber gloves and don't let the products touch your skin.
If you have a double oven, or your main oven includes a grill, look out for the option of a drop down grill. This means you can move the grill heating element aside and clean behind it.
If your oven has a pyrolytic function, you should run these programs about once a month, following the instructions provided by the manufacturer. You’ll still need to sweep out or wipe down the interior of the oven, but you should need less elbow grease than with a regular oven.
If your oven has catalytic linings these will work when you cook at high temperatures. Some ovens with catalytic linings also have a dedicated catalytic cleaning program that can be run when you are not cooking.
Oven racks are usually relatively straightforward to clean as you can easily remove and soak them.
You can buy special oven rack soaking kits. You place the racks inside large, re-sealable plastic bags, and then add specialist cleaning fluid.
The fluid is extremely harsh and corrosive, so make sure you prepare and rinse the racks while wearing protective gloves and clothing.
Alternatively, you could try soaking the racks in a large washing up bowl, a bin bag or even the bath. If you choose the latter, be mindful that some cleaning products could be extremely corrosive on enamel baths, so you’ll need to choose natural ones.
A grimy glass oven door will stop you being able to see what’s going on in your oven and whether your food is cooking as it should.
- Start by using a glass scraper, sponge or microfiber cleaning cloth to remove baked on foods. Don't use harsh scourers such as wire wool, which may introduce miniscule scratches onto the glass, which could weaken it.
- You may be able to remove the glass part of the door for soaking, which will allow you to reach the area between the inner and outer pieces of glass that make up the door, where grease can also accumulate. Check your oven or cooker’s instruction manual for guidance on how to do this.
- Some chemical oven cleaners are suitable for use on glass, but don't use caustic-based oven cleaner, which will damage it. For a softer approach, use standard dish soap and water followed by a vinegar-based glass cleaner, which should leave it streak-free.
- After replacing the glass, you should also wipe down the outside of the door and the control panels. This can be done with standard kitchen cleaner or warm, soapy water.
Leaving months or years between your oven cleaning will land you with a much bigger job. Little and often really is the key here.
We’d recommend you wipe down your oven at least once a month. If you’ve cooked something that you know has splattered everywhere (such as a roast or a bubbling casserole), you should wipe your oven down once it has cooled.
If you notice a strong burning smell when your oven is preheating, it’s usually a sign that something in there is gradually burning off, so it’s best to wipe it down (when cool) to reduce the risk of anything getting ‘cooked on’.
Likewise, if there's a large spillage on the floor of your oven, wipe it out straight after use.
Can I get a professional oven cleaning service?
It's possible to hire a company to visit your home and clean your oven for you. Prices vary enormously and can cost anywhere between £30 to £60 depending on whether you have a single or double oven, and whether that also includes cleaning of the hob and cooker hood.
Some domestic cleaning services will offer it as part of a general home clean, but you're likely to have to pay extra for it and you should ask whether or not you need to provide the specialist cleaning products.
A good place to find a reputable professional service is at Which? Trusted Traders. Companies registered here have been assessed by us and also reviewed by customers. Only those who meet our high standards are eligible to use the Which? Trusted Trader logo.
If you’re slow cooking food, make sure you cover it with a lid or foil to stop it bubbling and splattering into your oven.
Place dishes on a baking tray rather than straight onto the oven racks so that if, for example, your lasagne bubbles over, the food will drip onto the tray.
Some ovens come with catalytic or pyrolytic linings, and it’s definitely worth taking advantage of these to keep your oven clean.
Catalytic oven liners (essentially rough surfaces inside the oven), catch, absorb and break down greasy spills, which are then burnt away when cooking at temperatures of more than 200°C. Ovens often only have liners on the sides, but you do sometimes get them on the ceiling and back, too. This makes the oven easier to keep clean, but you will still need to wipe down the base, door and shelves in the traditional way.
Pyrolytic programs burn off dirt and grease at very high temperatures – around 500°C. All you need to do is sweep out the ash afterwards. These programs take around two hours, and for safety, the oven door will lock while the cycle is running. You will still need to clean the oven door and shelves by hand.
When we test ovens and cookers, we rate them for how easy they are to keep clean, including whether they have a self-clean function and how easy the different elements of the oven to wipe down or keep clean.
Take a look at the ovens below, which have all scored well for cleaning in our tests.
Best easy-to-clean ovens
This single oven comes with a divider and two fans, allowing you to turn it into a double oven as and when you need. So, if you could do with a double, but don’t have the space, this accurate oven with an impressive grill could be the one to go for.copy