Instructables

Cleaning your oven without poisonous, earth destroying chemicals

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A few steps on how to quickly get rid of the grime and debris that make your kitchen smell horrible every time you turn on your oven. 


Things You Will Need
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar 
  • A bowl or a squirt bottle (Preferably a squirt bottle)
  • A dirty oven
  • A spatula
     
 
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Step 1:

First things first
Remove the racks. Using a spatula, scrape up as much of the debris as you can, and throw it away. Most of the big stuff should come up pretty easy. Tip: move the trash can closer to the oven....

THEN

Using about a cup of baking soda, more or less depending on the size of your oven, sprinkle it all over the floor of your oven. 

THEN

This is where a squirt bottle comes in handy. Spray vinegar all over the baking soda. Use your fingers or a rubber spatula to spread the baking soda around so that it comes into contact with the vinegar and every dirty part of your oven floor. Let sit for 10-20 minutes. 


(alternative: Mix vinegar and baking soda in a bowl to form a paste, and then spread that over your oven floor. Make sure to pour the vinegar slowly because it fizzes up pretty high.)

Step 2: Scrub a dub dub

Get a scrubbing pad (I used one of those metal curly wiry ones...) and scrub in a CIRCULAR motion, rather than back and forth -- this will make your job go by so much more quickly. Grime should come off pretty easily...  


When you can slide the pad gently all over the oven floor and no longer feel any rough patches, you are ready to clean up the excess baking soda/vinegar mixture.

Use a damp sponge and get it all out of there! 

You will have to keep rinsing off the sponge... 
I HAVE INSPECTION IN 2 DAYS AND WAS NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO CLEANING MY OVEN SO THIS MAKES ME MORE AMENABLE TO CLEANING...ALSO APPLE CIDER VINEGAR CAN LEAVE A FRESH SCENT WHILE CLEANING, THANKS FOR YOUR INSTRUCT-ABLE. WILL DEF CLEAN MY OVEN TOMORROW NIGHT WHEN I DO MY KITCHEN.
Who the heck is inspecting your oven? you poor thing!
lol I actually had an inspection with the rental people in the apartment complex where I live in WV and I actually forgot to clean my oven. I'm being re-inspected because I didn't clean it. I will now....at least this won't take my oxygen away while I'm trying to clean it.
I don't think that is legal in Ontario. Damage deposits are not allowed either. In lots of ways landlords have no rights, which seems a little one sided. How often is your apt. inspected? What happens if you fail and do not comply with their demands?
well...we have annual inspections by the manager as per the owner's rules. Those of us on HUD assistance also get inspected annually to renew the house/apt and see if it still complies...this can be the renter doing something wrong as well as the owner of the complex. I had my annual inspection from the managers that run the development for the owners and I failed because I forgot to clean the oven (I hate the chemical icky part...I have asthma...hard to breathe and scrub with that stuff)....I honestly forgot...I think It was my subconcsious trying to avoid the whole issue. they gave me three weeks to fix the issue. If it isn't done I would get weekly inspections until I comply. If I never comply....well, oops., I'm evicted. I have to say that I have OCD and I can make myself sick cleaning but I have to admit they do keep me on my toes. My place is respectable. I'm dead after all the 'hoop-la-rah' but I suppose its better than filth which I also despise. So everyone gets what they want.... I guess. :-}
I also have asthma, and I know exactly what you are talking about when you mention the fumes. OCD must be so exhausting for you. I'm truly sorry {{{}}} I know I'll get a lot of flack re this suggestion,because of reflection of heat increasing temp etc., but what about lining the bottom rack with aluminum foil?
Well...I tried to use the alluminum foil trick on my oven and the Landlord said I wasn't allowed to do that and made me take it out.....said it was a fire hazard. I just can't win with these guys.

I know this is an old post but hopefully you still check out Instructables.

Here's a link for an oven liner that is NOT a fire hazard, so your Landlord can not make you take it out.

It was made just FOR this use!

http://www.harrietcarter.com/product/oven-liner-4310-1/#

lol A friend of mine suggested that. My feeble mind didn't pick up on that by myself. I thank God for the Instructables info and the feedback...I need the help. lol

Instructables is totally cool. We get to cyberly meet such creative and kind people. My life is really enriched by the group of people that hang out here! :0)
if you visit the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board website for the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act it does say: A landlord may enter a rental unit to inspect for maintenance problems, make repairs, do work or replace something, and then goes on to give details as to how this must be done (ie written 24hr notice, why they wish to enter, the date, and the time between 8am-8pm). on a side note, Co-ops aren't governed by the this Act but by their own by-laws.
I didn't see your post until now. Thanks so much for the info :0) Do you think a landlord could check for general cleanliness? I just purchased a duplex, and the tennants have some questionable habbits that concern me.
why bother telling them you're only there to inspect cleanliness? just tell them you're there for an 'inspection', don't give details. as far as whether or not you are allowed to tell them that they aren't keeping the place clean enough, i don't know about that. are we talking bugs? hoarding becomes a fire safety issue, that's for sure. take a read around the LTB website: http://www.ltb.gov.on.ca/en/index.htm i did find the following on the site: [I]A tenant must keep their rental unit clean, up to the standard that most people would consider ordinary or normal cleanliness.[/I]
This is totally normal and legal pretty much everywhere in the US, including West Virginia where the previous poster is from, Kansas where I grew up, and North Carolina where I am now.
And generally, though this varies by how the rental agreement is set up and local laws, a failed inspection loses you your deposit or gets you kicked out.

I'd hate to own rental property in Canada. Sounds like a renter can pretty much just use it as a party house and destroy the place without being responsible for it at all.
at least in Vancouver -you're right - I'm a renter but I clean professionally and I've seen some horrendous apartments after the tenants have left, booted out or done a bunk without notice, etc. The landlords here say it's all part of doing business- personally I'd check out their refs before they'd get into any of my property.
Recently, a landlord I worked for had to call in a specialty hazmat cleaning team, protective gear & breathing apparatus, etc because the place was that bad and the tenants had only been there a few months!
Rutitut1 year ago
I so hope this works, I make yorkshire puddings or as they are know in the US as popovers, I think, so I have oil burnt into the bottom of my ovens, have tried to turn them up full blast, its burns but its doesnt clean it and neither does the poisonous cleaning products, so here goes
Kind of sort of on topic... I read that if you lay waxpaper on top of high cupords, dust and grime will end up on the wax paper, and all you have to do is change out new waxpaper every 4 months or so.
ejarrell (author)  porcupinemamma1 year ago
That's a really great tip! I don't have tall (or any, really) cabinets at my house, but I am going to pass that tip along to my mom!
Use baking soda to clean the kitchen cabinets and counters. The stove and refrigerator will come out sparkling. Baking soda is a mild abrasive, so check for wear on “soft” paints and varnishes.

http://www.localrestoration.com/ water damage restoration

MsJan1 year ago
Most shelf cleaning products are toxic to humans. My main cleaners are vinegars, baking soda, peroixde, washing soda, and borax. Glad to see someone else using their head and keeping our world a safer place to live. A Healthy Home Has No Smell.
ejarrell (author)  MsJan1 year ago
:)
So this works for someone who bakes alot? I use the oven about 4-5x a week and I hate cleaning it so it only gets cleaned about once a month. Would this work on heavily used ovens?
ejarrell (author)  fabled_tales1 year ago
I'm not sure... My oven is small and only used by a family of two. Perhaps for a larger, more used oven, you could try the self cleaning method Raksab mentions below...
Raksab2 years ago
There is a way that is even easier than this! A lot of ovens have a "self-clean" setting, and the ones that don't, just turn them up as hot as they will go (500 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) and leave it on for a couple hours. All the gunk in the oven will burn to ash. Then you just have to turn it off, let it cool, and wipe away the ashes with a damp cloth.
ejarrell (author)  Raksab1 year ago
I'll have to try that!
tqwerty2 years ago
I read this instructable a long time ago and finally tried it out today.

Worked great! Thanks ejarrell!
ejarrell (author)  tqwerty1 year ago
You're welcome :) I'm glad someone got something out of it!
I don't care what the reason is-the vinegar and soda really worked. I tried it on a drain pan the I call "seasoned" but my husband calls "dirty". I keep a spray bottle of vinegar (so many uses). After a few minutes of the soda-vinegar mix, most of the crud came off. Thanks!
Next time, try just the baking soda and water procedure, and see how it works. Baking soda and vinegar have pH levels that essentially cancel each other out, depending on the amount of each that is used. Because of this, it's about the same as using just water. If you use just baking soda and sprinkle with water, then allow to sit overnight, there will be no scrubbing needed. Just wiping away the amalgam of baking soda/water/grime that has been created with virtually no work on your part! Chemistry is wonderful! We just need to use it to our advantage. :-)
Because of Princessalex's thoughtful reply, I tried just baking soda and water on the other side of my crusty pan and let it set all night, just knowing it would not work as well. It did. A little bit better. The other upside to this is that the stainless sink I had it in is cleaner and shinier than I have ever seen it. Yes! You can teach an old dog new tricks.
I was curious how much better it would be, too. I learned about natural cleaning when I was pregnant with my first son, and knew that I didn't want heavy chemicals being used around my babe. While pregnant with my second, we moved and needed to clean everything up. I had no problem cleaning my oven with just baking soda. And, while the oven didn't come out perfect, it was far better than it was when we moved in! I'm thinking that some items may need this application 2-3 times, if they have a lot of grime.

:-)
As an additional benefit I have discovered, once it finally sunk in that baking soda cleaned and then vinegar neutralized it, I scrubbed my dirty dishes with a damp cloth dipped in soda. Then heated up a pan of water and put a couple of dashes of vinegar in it. I rinsed the soda-washed dishes in this. Wow! my glass, plastic, stainless utensils all cleaner than they have ever been. Additional benefits is that I used a lot less water with better results. I have always felt that dish detergent left a coating on especially plastic. Also, don't need to worry about my having to wear rubber gloves. There is only one drawback. It seems too easy.
follox3 years ago
I might try this, I think we've cleaned our oven once since we got it O.O It's a gas oven though, with holes in the bottom for the flamey bits... I'm a bit scared of dropping or spraying anything down there. Anyone got any tips for the housework-impaired?!
who1buffy3 years ago
Vinegar (acetic acid) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) yield salt, water, carbon dioxide (the fizz) and possibly sodium acetate. Classic titration reactions (and acid & a base, just like we're doing here) yield a salt and water.
Seems like the baking soda & water would be more effective.
The throw away foil barrier sounds like the most practical method of keeping the oven clean.
Abstract Dragon, you are totally right. In many cases the sheriff has to be called after rent is way over due, and the court hearing takes forever. The people in the apt. can be actual squatters for a long time before the landlord has any help. Many of the apts. are totally trashed (in every unimanigable way) and the landlord is stuck with the clean up bill. Not fair at all.
KittyF3 years ago
I use a baking soda/ Dish soap paste. cuts grease, and makes a good mild abrasive as well.
bumsugger3 years ago
Pretty good Instructable...........pretty good looking cutie too.
Broom3 years ago
The second step can also be: run oven at highest temperature for a half-hour, with windows open & fan running, to burn off all residue.

Uses more energy (bad), but involves less work (good) and no toxic cleaners (good).
You are a way better house keeper than I am! personally, I wait until the oven is stone cold and then i vacuum it- been doing it for nearly 40 years! we haven't died yet. lol
ejarrell (author)  porcupinemamma3 years ago
That works, too! The big stuff that causes the stink comes off pretty easily but us OCD folk don't like the greasy grime :) Purely aesthetics.
theo673 years ago
It did not work on the oven door or is that not yet done?
ejarrell (author)  theo673 years ago
When you run your hand over the stains on the oven door, you can't feel them, they feel just like the enameled metal part. We are living in a rental apartment, and the oven is in a lot better shape now than when we moved in, so I'm not too concerned about it.., so I'm thinking that over long term use (she's been renting the apt for 42 years! Who knows how old the oven is...), they are just stains from having been cooked on again and again...
junits153 years ago
all vinegar is made from wine...with the exception of rice vinegar
Rice vinegar is still wine. Hear of sake? Its a Japanese rice wine.
No it's not.
(wine is wine, vinegar is vinegar. More accurately and ignoring the flavourings, wine is alcohol and vinegar is the oxidation product of alcohol: acid)
dwebb5 junits153 years ago
I use Apple Cider Vinegar and it helps if the oven is warm.
Its made from fermentation; not necessarily wine. e.g. Palm Vinegar
Actually industrial acetate can be produced chemically from a number of sources, and acetate is nothing more than the conjugate base for acetic acid ( which we commonly call vinegar ). So while much vinegar is made from wine ( as the name suggests ) it isn't true that all vinegar is produced this way.
CaseyCase3 years ago
I've heard of putting a bowl of household ammonia into a warm oven overnight will loosen up the gunk--you should be able to wipe out the mess with a sponge.
ejarrell (author)  CaseyCase3 years ago
My mom used to do that, and it does work well, but we try not to use ammonia in our house because of the smell and its toxicity....
NexxuSix3 years ago
As a side note, once you have the oven cleaned, you can put down a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom to catch any food that might otherwise fall onto the bottom and get baked on. then, when it comes time to clean, just peel up the foil, and recycle it.
ejarrell (author)  NexxuSix3 years ago
Thanks! That's great advice!
An even easier route is to liberally sprinkle baking soda all over, spray with water (not vinegar) once an hour or so, then leave it to sit overnight. In the morning, all you have to do is wipe all the grime away with a sponge! No scratchy things needed at all!
I agree with you princessalex.  From my limited knowledge of chemistry [learned in high school and college over 50+ years ago] it is my opinion that adding Vinegar to the Baking Soda DESTROYS the soda. 

That "fizzing" action observed is evidence of a chemical reaction between the soda [which is basic] and the Vinegar [which is acedic].  This reaction destroys the soda AND the Vinegar, and thus reduces the amount available to attack the greasy baked on coating.

With the amount of soda reduced, the action on the oven grease and grime will be reduced.

The "cleaning" action of the Baking Soda on the oven grime is a chemical reaction called "Saponification" in which the soda compound [a "base"] combines with the grease creating brown SOAP, resulting in a softer mass which can be wiped off. Even the STRONG store-bought oven cleaners work on this principle of Saponificaiton.

So... agreeing with you, I suggest making a paste of Baking Soda and water, apply it to the oven crud, close the oven door tightly to retain the heat from the pilot light [IF one has a gas oven and a pilot light] and allow to sit overnight.  By morning most, if not all, of the greasy baked on crud will be softened and more easily removable.

Another principle of chemistry is that the WARMER the chemicals are, the faster and deeper the chemical reaction. IF one does not have a gas oven and thus no pilot light to heat and thus speed up the reaction, then occasionally turnng on the electric oven just enough to keep the interior  WARM NOT HOT, will enchance the chemical reaction. 

Also, it improves the Saponification action IF you keep the soda layer damp [by MISTing/dampening the soda layer with a pump spray as often as possible as the chemical reaction works better in a wet environment.  Totally dry, the reaction will almost cease.
ejarrell (author)  johnny3h3 years ago
Hm, that is very interesting. I will try using only baking soda next time. I realized from reviewing my instructable that it looks like I am using a lot more energy than it really took to clean the gunk off. It came off pretty easily. But I was taught this way by my grandmother and have always cleaned grimy things this way, and have never had issues. But maybe if I try it with baking soda and water, it will help to remove the deeper stained parts like on the oven door....
ac-dc johnny3h3 years ago
Indeed! There is no reason to combine vinegar and baking soda for any cleaning purpose.

Use either/or depending on what the *dirt* is. The baking soda is for grease based (suspended) grime while the vinegar is for breaking down mineral deposits and other non-grease particles. If a job needs both actions to effectively clean, apply the baking soda, clean it as well as possible getting as much as possible of the remaing baking soda off, THEN use the vinegar containing cleaner.
ac-dc ac-dc3 years ago
I meant, as you stated if you combine them they just react with each other cancelling out the benefits of each, leaving only a milder cleaning action from whichever hasn't been depleted yet which would be the same thing as just using less of that component.
farmsteader3 years ago
Hey Babe , you missed a spot, yeah over there to the left !
Great Green Solution, you deserve an award, Best Regards
WoundedEgo3 years ago
I bake bread, which requires the oven to be about 475 to 500 degrees. Sometimes I clean the oven right after that and the baking stones store a lot of the heat. It doesn't take that much power to clean up. But your way is awesome.
rippa7003 years ago
Be careful with the metal scratchy things - they work well but are abrasive on the enamel surface. Better use a green plastic one and work a little harder - that wont spoil the enamel in the long run. Great intructable - good sense to keep those foul chemicals out of our world.
eusar3 years ago
made me wanna make honeycomb to!! lovely way to clean!!
eblisster3 years ago
Just in case you didn't know, they make liners for the bottom of ovens that can be removed and cleaned much easier than having to do this. But if you are going this route, this is a great way. It does my heart good to see people using what our great grand parents used to clean their homes decades ago.
binabinacat3 years ago
I cleaned my oven this way but I found I had to watch to make sure the baking soda doesn't fall inside the door between the glass. I don't know how to get the old baking soda out.
ejarrell (author)  binabinacat3 years ago
Oh, hmm. That would be frustrating... I don't have glass on my oven so I never ran into that problem. Maybe putting tape down before you cleaned would help prevent that from happening
You should have a couple screws on the inside holding the handle on, then from there its just a piece by piece taking it apart...Be careful though; mind had to lift the glass straight up separately.
I just used this same method last weekend to clean my oven. We had some black... whatever in the bottom of our oven. Did a spectacular job getting all of that stuff up. It was great because we have a 10-month old in the house and it would have been difficult keeping her out of the kitchen while we cleaned. Glad you made the ible for this. Great job and pics.
ejarrell (author)  somewhiteguy3 years ago
Yeah, having children around is certainly a reason to keep nasty chemicals out of the house. My boyfriend hates the smell of chemicals, so we try and use normal things to clean with when we can...
FreeTibet3 years ago
I use baking soda & vinegar to clean lots of things but I never thought it would handle the oven. Duh! I'm off to try it! Thanks.