From sauces that bubbled over to drips of gooey cheese now burnt, your oven is a canvas for spills and splatters of all kinds. And when it comes to cleaning it, chances are you're, well, not. But tackling this appliance doesn't have to be a heavy lift, nor do you need to spend extra money on special cleaning products. In fact, all you need to make your oven sparkle again are two pantry staples, likely already in your kitchen: baking soda and vinegar.
"These ingredients are great, all-natural cleaning agents, especially in place of many conventional oven cleaners which can often leave harmful residual vapors in your oven," says Melissa Poepping, natural cleaning expert and author of the "Chemical Free Home" series. Both non-toxic and safe to use around food surfaces, baking soda (a natural alkali) and vinegar (a natural acid) work together to help lift off stubborn stains and grease for easy wiping. Smell of vinegar turn you off? Poepping says you can easily enhance your homemade cleaners with two to three drops of essential oil, particularly tea tea oil which can act as a natural degreaser. "For cleaning the oven glass, I also like to make a spray of equal parts water and distilled white vinegar with a few drops of added lemon oil for scent," she says.
As for how often you should really be cleaning your oven, Poepping recommends every few weeks, though this will vary depending on how often you use your oven. And while the self-cleaning function can be a great "quick-fix" cleaning alternative, she notes, "You should still aim to deep clean your oven regularly! Think of it as less of a chore, and more of a preservation of your appliance. You likely spent a lot of money on your oven, why shouldn't it be well-taken care of?"
Ready to roll up your sleeves? Here's how-to give your oven a deep clean:
Make a Paste
Stir together 3/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup warm water, noting that a large oven may require more paste. If you are adding any essential oils, you can do so here (two to three drops should suffice, but you may add more if desired).
Remove Racks and Soak
Always take your racks out even if you are using your oven's self-cleaning function; the heat during the cycle can warp racks. Once removed, let them sit in dishwashing liquid for a few hours, scrub with a scouring pad, and then rinse well and dry. If racks need heavy-duty cleaning, apply the paste. Only use on stainless steel racks; baking soda can discolor aluminum.
Apply the Paste
Fill any openings in the oven with foil. Using a paintbrush, spread the paste throughout the oven's interior, avoiding bare metal surfaces and the oven door. To get into tight corners and tough spots, you can use an old toothbrush. Leave overnight.
Clean It Out
Remove the paste with a plastic scraper, wetting as needed. Wipe with a damp cloth, repeating to remove streaks.
Wipe the Door
Using a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar, clean the oven door with a soft cloth. Avoid wetting the gasket.
Then, watch the video below to see Martha's favorite ways to use baking soda around the home: