How Often Should You Clean Your Oven?

Some internal messes might be out of sight, but that doesn't mean they should be out of mind.

Your oven does a lot of heavy lifting, which is why it demands routine maintenance. Part of this appliance's upkeep involves thorough, regular cleanings. As for how often you need to give its interior a scrub? We asked an expert: Ahead, your ultimate oven cleaning schedule.

clean modern kitchen with stainless steel stove
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Regular cleaning is key.

A dirty oven can reduce the efficiency and quality of the appliance, notes Ron Shimek, the president of Mr. Appliance, a Neighborly company. "Having excess residue built up in your oven will not only make your food taste unpleasant, but will also make your oven work harder to cook or bake your food to the ideal temperature," he says. Additionally, the stress of working through grease, grime, and other build-up can strain the machine, decreasing its lifespan and potentially causing severe unforeseen problems in the future, such as oven failure or a grease fire.

Frequency matters.

Shimek says that you should clean the interior of your oven at least once every three months. "Burners and grates should be soaked in hot, soapy water before scrubbing away debris," he says, adding that you should include your oven's racks in this process, as well. Remove them from the appliance's interior and soak them in a combination of boiling water and dishwasher detergent. "Soak the racks for about two hours and then scrub them with a stiff brush," he says. "Rinse and dry before putting them back in the oven."

Know when to use the self-cleaning function.

There are plenty of ways to clean your oven; picking the best method will depend on the type of appliance you have, explains Shimek. "If you have a self-cleaning oven, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully," he says. "Many newer models have a self-cleaning feature, where the appliance will heat to 800 degrees and remove stubborn burned-on grime by turning it into a powdery ash that can be simply wiped away with a damp cloth." While this feature is an easy (and time-saving) solution, Shimek says you need to use it sparingly. "This task is very strenuous on your appliance. If you opt to use this feature, you should only do so if the mess inside of your oven is mild—if your oven has too much built-up residue, it can become a potential fire hazard."

Understand the benefits of steam.

If you have an oven with a steam-clean option, removing food residue is as simple as adding water and running the cycle. The water will boil, adding moisture to the oven cavity that allows you to swipe away stuck-on debris with ease.

Textured ovens require some elbow grease.

As for textured ovens, you can likely manage messes with a little bit of elbow grease. "These have surfaces specifically designed to burn spills off gradually as you use the oven," he says, adding that they're also called continuous cleaning ovens. Maintain this appliance type by regularly wiping it down with a damp cloth. "Do this often to keep up with messes and residue as they happen," he says. "Remember to never use abrasive cleaners, scouring pads, or even oven cleaners in textured ovens."

Clean your oven as needed.

Depending on how often you use it or what you are cooking, your oven may need attention more frequently, before the three-month mark. Shimek notes that lingering smells, food that tastes strange, and excessive smoking are all signs that it is time for a deep clean. No matter what type of oven you have, he recommends following the manufacturer's instructions: "Same thing goes for if you purchase an over-the-counter cleaner. Thoroughly read the instructions before jumping in and cleaning your oven." Otherwise, you run the risk of making a costly, or even dangerous, mistake.

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