Green alternative to oven cleaner: The (lazy) Baking Soda method

Oven cleaning is usually the toughest cleaning job in a home. Conventional oven cleaners are also one of the most toxic cleaning substances in you home, too. And the self-clean feature? This mode can fry the electronics in your modern range and many appliance sales associates don’t recommend it.

I propose this: the easiest, greenest and laziest method of cleaning an oven.

First, plan on not using your oven for 24 hours.

Get out a large bowl. Start with adding one cup of baking soda. Grab a cup of warm water and start drizzling it into the baking soda until it forms a soft paste… somewhere between toothpaste and clay and wet sand. If you’ll be cleaning the sides or top of your oven, you might have to experiment with the consistency and make sure it’s not too crumbly.

The inside of your oven will be white and chalky. No worries. Now here’s the lazy part: wait 24 hours. You can wait 12 if you’re impatient or have a baking emergency. Even if you forget about it and a week later realize you did this to your oven, no worries.

When you’re ready to clean it up, get out the large bowl again and mix 1 part warm-to-hot water and 1 part vinegar. Start by picking up the large clumps with your hands or a brush and a dustpan. While this substance isn’t toxic, it might dry out your hands a bit so wear gloves if you’re concerned. Now that you’ve removed the major stuff, do a check and see if there are any stains still present. If so, dip a rag into the water and vinegar mixture, wring it out well and using the baking soda residue, scrub that stain away. Don’t worry: you won’t harm the surface.* Scrub in a circular motion. If this still isn’t coming off, add a little more baking soda to the spot and let it sit while you clean the rest of the oven. To clean up the leftover baking soda, saturate your rag a little more heavily and keep wiping until there are no more traces of white powder. If it seems like there’s still a fine grit of residue on the surface, put some vinegar in a spray bottle, spray the whole surface and wipe down with a dry cloth. The vinegar will dissolve the baking soda à la elementary school volcano for the science fair.

The result is a clean oven without using oven cleaner and without a ton of work (in this blogger’s opinion, of course).

As a side note, I’ve tried cleaning ovens with vinegar solutions, including vinegar infused with orange peel which is usually a great grease-cutter. I think it works well on surfaces like counters but baked-on grease needed something grittier. If it was a delicate surface, I’d try Bon Ami. It’s my favorite when I need to scrub something like stainless steel or enamel cookware.

*if you have a fancy oven that’s made with a material other than the blue or black painted metal that most ovens have, be sure to test a spot first. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stainless steel or ceramic oven interior but I’m sure it exists. Baking soda, while gentle enough for fabrics, just might scratch a delicate surface.

2 Comments on "Green alternative to oven cleaner: The (lazy) Baking Soda method"

  1. Mike Tanner says:

    Great info – I’m not a massive fan of those toxic chemicals you can buy – using baking soda seems to be a pretty popular choice these days! I admittedly did resort to professional oven cleaner kent or oven cleaner birmingham based companies to do mine when it got bad until I read posts like this, so thank you! But I actually have a tip that I found really helped: EVERY time you use the cooker, just give it a quick wipe over, inside and out. I found a sponge (just water, nothing else) as the oven was cooling down to remove the spillages and grease from that cook really helped stop the build up and I don’t reach that horrible black, baked on stage any more! Thanks for the advice.

  2. Claie says:

    I am all for the green alternatives, for every aspect of cleaning.

    This is a great little guide, thank you very much. You have learnt me a few things. I usually have expert oven cleaning in a few times a year. I am going to try your guide and then maybe I can cut that down to once per year!

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