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How to clean your oven: Tips, tricks and the best oven cleaning products

Kate Hilpern
8 Jun 2018
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From cleaning the shelves to the best oven cleaners, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to get your oven in tip-top shape

Cleaning your oven is right up there with the least glamorous household chores. It takes serious time and elbow grease and the end results aren’t always as sparkling as you’d hoped for. But with our top tips, you can cut down on both the time and effort while ending up with an oven that looks as good as new.

What will I need?

Starting out with the right equipment is a must. You simply can’t expect a spotless, shiny and hygienic oven if you’re only going to use your usual kitchen sponge and soap. Scroll down for our top recommendations for products, but the bottom line is you’ll need a specialist oven cleaner, large resealable plastic bags or trays, sponges and possibly a scraper if there’s caked-on debris. You’ll also need rubber gloves and newspaper. It’s going to get messy.

How do I clean my oven?

Start by removing the shelves from your oven, following our separate instructions below for cleaning them with minimum effort. Lay out the newspaper on the floor beneath the door, getting it under the front as much as possible.

Once you’ve removed away any larger debris from your oven (rogue oven chips, larger chunks of solidified fat etc), pour the oven cleaner onto the oven floor and scrub over both the floor and door, as well as over any dirt you find on the sides. Pay extra attention to particularly greasy areas, but stay clear of the heating elements. If the door or the glass is removable, unscrew or remove it then soak it in oven cleaner and warm water. Leave your oven for as long as the instructions recommend, but no less than four hours and, ideally, overnight.

READ NEXT: The best ovens you can buy right now

Now use a sponge to wipe away the cleaner, then retrieve the shelves from their bags or tray. Scrub away any remaining grime – along with your oven door if you’ve removed it - and return them to the oven.

How do I clean my oven shelves?

Once you’ve removed the oven shelves from the oven, put them into separate, large plastic bags; you can buy sealable bags purpose-built for the task, but if you don’t have these then just use some black bin liners. Add oven cleaner, seal the bag (or tie and twist the bin bag) and leave them to soak. The instructions on the oven cleaner will tell you how long to leave them for, but our advice is at least 30 minutes and, where possible, overnight. Then, rinse them under warm water and use a scourer to scrub away any remaining grime.

Alternatively, put them in an oven rack soaking tray (or the bathtub). Add your oven cleaner, following the instructions.

But I don’t want to use chemicals

No problem. You can clean an oven naturally with a little vinegar and baking soda. Start by removing the shelves, then lay out newspapers or paper towels on the floor beneath your oven.

Next, mix half a cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water until it has the texture of a spreadable paste. Add a little vinegar which will react with the baking soda to produce a foam. Once you’ve removed away any larger chunks of debris from your oven, coat your oven floor and door, as well as over any dirt you find on the sides, with the foam. Pay extra attention to particularly greasy areas, but stay clear of the heating elements. Leave for at least 30 minutes and ideally overnight.

Meanwhile, put your oven shelves in an oven rack soaking tray (or the bathtub) and then sprinkle them with baking soda and pour vinegar on top. This combination will foam. When the foaming stops, run hot water until the racks are fully covered. Leave for at least 30 minutes and ideally overnight. Next, rinse your shelves under warm water and use a scourer to scrub away any remaining grime.

Now use a damp sponge to wipe away the dried paste from the oven, using a plastic spatula or oven scraper where necessary. Then wipe or spray (using a spray bottle) vinegar to get rid of any final bits of paste – the vinegar will turn it to foam, making it easier to remove. Wipe again with a completely clean sponge and then return your clean shelves to the oven.

How often should I clean my oven?

Whenever you start to notice the door is splattered – or even coated – in grease or grime. Whenever it starts to smell of grease, dirt or old food. And whenever the oven smoulders, with smoke appearing from the build-up of dirt the moment it heats up. In an average family household, it works out about once every three to six months.

How can I prevent my oven getting dirty in the first place?

Well, you could live on sandwiches or takeaways, but there are some more practical ideas:

  • Line the base of your oven with an oven sheet – these non-stick mats are available in various sizes and will stop you ever having to clean the floor of your oven again.
  • Roast meat or fish in cooking bags – not only does this stop them drying out but it stops fat spitting around your oven.
  • When you’ve finished cooking something in the oven, put an oven-proof bowl of water inside and heat on high for 20 minutes to help loosen grease and dirt. Once cool, wipe the floor and door with kitchen paper. If you’ve cooked something pungent, such as fish, pop a few drops of vanilla or citrus essence into the bowl.
  • If your oven is only moderately dirty and has a self-clean setting, use this as soon as you get a slight build-up of grime, removing the shelves first. The self-clean function sets the oven to a very high temperature to help melt and remove your grease and grime. Manufacturers usually suggest a cycle of around two hours (check instructions for the exact time for your oven). Avoid the self-clean function, however, if your oven is very dirty; it can backfire and smoke up.
  • An old, but clean, toothbrush can help you reach nooks and crannies in your oven as they appear – and an electric toothbrush will do it even quicker, thanks to the vibrations.

The best oven cleaning products

1. Oven Mate Complete Deep Clean Oven Kit: Best oven cleaning kit

Price: £20  l Buy now from Lakeland

From one of the best-known oven cleaner manufacturers on the market, this comprehensive collection of goodies has everything you need to get even the grimiest, most disgusting oven sparkling – and then enough to do it all over again a second time. We found the gel works a treat for the oven interior, although we’d suggest leaving it on longer than they advise. There’s also a special gel just for oven shelves, along with the bags (although only two are included so put all your oven shelves in one bag), plus two tough scourers and 50 microwave cleaning wipes in case you’ve got any energy left to clean your other kitchen appliances. The gloves and arm protectors are a nice touch, making this a pretty effortless way to clean your oven to professional standards without actually having to fork out for a professional.

Buy now from Lakeland

2. Oven Mate Just for Racks Cleaning Kit: Best for oven shelves

Price: £8 l Buy now from Lakeland

This cleaning gel (which is included in the Oven Mate kit reviewed above) is a godsend for filthy oven shelves and it doesn’t pong like other formulas do. We didn’t have to scrub even entrenched grease and grime – it just fell off – although there’s a scourer included just in case. The extra-large bottle will see you through several cleaning sessions and the kit includes protective gloves and sleeve protectors so you don’t even have to get your hands dirty. You start by putting the shelves into the bags provided, then apply the gel and let it work its magic. But although you can fit several racks into one bag, it’s a shame they don’t include more bags in the pack. And although our bags didn’t leak, some customers complain this can happen.

Buy now from Lakeland

3. Mr Muscle Oven Cleaner: Best budget oven cleaner

Price: £3 l Buy now from Amazon

If you want something potent enough to clean a seriously dirty oven, but you don’t want to spend a fortune, Mr Muscle’s Oven Cleaner is an excellent buy. You’ll need to have gloves and old clothing at the ready as it’s very messy and may stain anything you’re wearing, but it does the job brilliantly, without the need for scrubbing. On the downside, it is pretty stinky, so be prepared to leave the room once you’ve applied it. For best results, it’s essential to read the instructions thoroughly. One final word of warning: you may need more than one can for larger ovens.

Image of Mr Muscle Oven Cleaner, 300ml

Mr Muscle Oven Cleaner, 300ml

£4.58 (£15.27 / l) Buy now

4. Lakeland Oven Rack Soaking Tray: Best for leaving oven shelves to soak

Price: £11.29 l Buy now from Lakeland

If you don’t want to use your bathtub to leave oven shelves to soak (and we don’t blame you) and you’re fed up with oven shelves poking out of the top of the sink, then Lakeland’s purpose-built rack is a great solution. Big enough to submerge most oven racks into, the tray is made from industrial grade polypropylene, capable of withstanding even the most potent cleaning chemicals. And if you’re wondering how to justify the price-tag, remember it can double up for all sorts of purposes – potting plants, painting with the kids and cleaning the BBQ, among them. But do check that your shelving will fit in them first – oversized oven shelving might struggle. And think about where you can store it; it’s not exactly small.

Buy now from Lakeland

5. The Skrapr Multi-Surface Scraper x 2: Best for scraping debris away

Price: £11 l Buy now from Lakeland

No need to use your metal spatula to get rid of debris from your dirty oven, thanks to this brilliant scraper that is safe to use on all smooth surfaces. We found it particularly useful when cleaning ovens with natural ingredients when a bit of extra elbow grease may be required. And believe us, you’ll find endless other uses for it – cleaning out the fishtank, cleaning the hob and even getting rid of the limescale on taps – and it can go in the dishwasher afterwards with no risk of getting rusty. 

Buy now from Lakeland

6. Oven Mate Daily Oven Cleaner: Best day-to-day oven cleaner

Price: £6 l Buy now from Lakeland

Simply spray this onto the floor or inside door of your oven (after it’s gone cold) and leave it for half-an-hour before wiping the foam away to reveal a lovely shiny oven every time. It won’t do for really grimy ovens – for that, you’ll need something more heavy duty - but for a quick fix to a spillage or just to keep your oven looking new at all times it’s really handy and effective. A great spray for day-to-day use, but be warned that it’s no good for enamel-coated, aluminium or self-cleaning ovens.

Buy now from Lakeland

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