As a child, I remember my mom dressing up in her make-shift hazmat suit to clean the oven. It was quite the process for her to ensure that we had enough ventilation in the kitchen as well as a barrier to keep everyone out while she cleaned.
I often found it counter-intuitive that we used a dangerous substance to clean something that we made food in. Oven cleaners can’t really be poisonous, right?
Butane, diethylene glycol monobutyl ether and monoethanolamine are just some of the harsh and dangerous ingredients that are found in conventional oven cleaners (beyondtoxics.org). According to MedlinePlus, these chemicals are known as corrosive alkalis, which can cause difficulty breathing if inhaled along with throat swelling and a collection of other side effects. Oven cleaner is also linked to vision loss, throat pain, abdominal pain, vomiting, low blood pressure and burns. So why do we use it to clean our ovens?
When it came time for me to clean the oven in my house, I faced a dilemma. Do I want to go through the same dangerous and poisonous process that my mom went through or do I try and find a natural alternative?
Like any good millennial, I took to Pinterest to find natural oven cleaners. The most common and popular natural oven cleaner was a simple combination of baking soda and vinegar. Does this chemical free alternative really work? Would it really be a simple and easy way to clean my oven naturally?
What Ingredients to Use for Natural Oven Cleaning
- Baking Soda
It’s not a surprise that the secret recipe behind this natural cleaning hack is baking soda and vinegar. Both ingredients have gained popularity in recent years for their natural cleaning abilities. These ingredients are useful in a variety of different cleaning jobs for various surfaces.
I wanted to quickly clean my oven so I found some instructions on how to clean your oven in one evening—no patience for waiting overnight here. My oven was long overdue for a cleaning. My house still has the original oven from 1969 so some of the stains have never come off. Here’s what my oven looked like before the cleaning:
How to Use Natural Oven Cleaner
- Use a rag with soap and water to remove any obvious debris and wipe down the surface.
- Grab a metal dish and add about ½ cup of vinegar along with enough water to nearly fill the dish. Put the dish onto the top baking rack, set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and leave it for an hour. This will allow the mixture to create a steam. Meanwhile, fill a spray bottle with vinegar.
- After an hour, turn the oven off and open the door. Spray the sides and bottom of the oven with the vinegar spray. Close the door and wait about 30 more minutes for the oven to cool down.
- Remove the oven racks . Soak the racks in the bathtub with a baking soda, water and vinegar mixture. Fill the bathtub with enough water to cover the racks and add 1 cup of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Avoid bathtub scratches by first laying a towel down in the tub.
- Once the oven has cooled down, wipe the easy spots with soap and water. Next, create a baking soda and vinegar mixture (1 tablespoon of baking soda per ½ cup of vinegar). Use the mixture and a scrubbing pad to clean out the rest of the oven.
- Wipe down the entire oven with a wet rag to remove excess vinegar and baking soda.
Does Natural Oven Cleaning Work?
Somewhat. This was a long task for me. More than likely, it took me a long time due to my perfectionist nature. In hindsight, I think the best bet would have been to apply the baking soda and vinegar paste to the oven with a sponge and let it sit overnight. I did repeat steps 2-5 a few times before I was satisfied with my end result. To get the stubborn burns and stains, I used a lot of elbow grease and went through quite a few scratch pads to do so. I applied additional baking soda and vinegar on stubborn spots, which I had many of since my oven was very dirty.
I was ready for bed after cleaning the oven so I didn’t take a final “after” picture, but here is what my oven looked like during the cleaning process. It’s a huge improvement from the first photo!
The next time I clean my oven I plan to use this process over chemical-filled conventional oven cleaners. With a few tweaks to my steps, I think I can clean naturally and save some time in the future.
Alternative Natural Oven Cleaning Recipes
Non-Toxic Oven Cleaning Recipe – TheGreensbackGal
- 2 tablespoons borax
- 2 tablespoons Castile soap
- ¼ cup water
Chemical Free Oven Cleaner – Living Wright
- 1 1/2 cups baking soda
- 1/2 cup sea salt
- 1/2 cup washing soda
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 10 drops lemon essential oil
- 10 drops tea tree oil
- Filtered water
Easy Eco Oven Cleaner – Hometalk
This recipe uses a combination of vinegar, orange peels and baking soda in a spray bottle for great results.
Have you ever tried cleaning your oven naturally? What did you use? Did it work?