If ever there was a household chore that encouraged procrastination, and to make you think ‘I’ll do that another day’ then it is oven cleaning. This task is certainly not the most glamorous in your house. In the majority of cases you are only reminded of the need to clean your oven when you have just finished cooking the evening meal, hardly the best time to think about starting what is a very arduous task.
- What is Included in a Professional Oven Cleaning?
- What are the Benefits of Having a Clean Oven?
- How Often Should I Clean my Oven?
- Oven Cleaning Guide
- Chemical Cleaning Products
- How dangerous are Chemical Cleaning Products?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Oven Cleaning
However, once you have decided to undertake this task yourself, and set aside the time to do so, then this oven cleaning guide should help you to achieve results that are almost as good as the professionals.
Within this oven cleaning guide we will also look at some of the different types of ovens and any specific requirements that the different variants may have, and the best ways that you can clean them.
Whether your oven has stopped performing as well as it used to, burnt on food is affecting the taste of your food, you are moving out of a rented property or it’s just got to the stage of needing more than a quick wiping over then it is definitely the time to get your gloves on, roll your sleeves up and get that oven cleaned.
You will be amazed by the results and should be filled with an immense sense of personal satisfaction knowing that you have not only saved money, but have restored your oven to a nearly new condition.
What is Included in a Professional Oven Cleaning?
With so many people and companies offering oven cleaning it would be wrong to create an oven cleaning guide without even acknowledging these people. The following checklist identifies what a typical oven cleaning entails. Obviously, this is not an extensive list and companies’ offerings will differ however it should give you a good feel of what to expect and what you should be looking at achieving from your oven clean.
- The cleaner will remove all the removable parts from inside the oven to commence the deep clean. This includes side panels, cooking racks, back panels and any other supporting brackets. Some companies will even remove the fan for cleaning
- Some oven cleaning companies now have vans that contain dip tanks, guaranteeing that removal components can be cleaned with the minimum of mess and fuss in your kitchen
- If required, the cleaner will remove the glass panels from the doors to facilitate a truly thorough deep clean
- Once all of these items have been restored to a pristine condition and the inside of the oven also cleaned the oven will be reassembled and tested prior to a final inspection
What are the Benefits of Having a Clean Oven?
The obvious key benefit is that you have a clean and fresh oven to use but there are several additional things that you maybe haven’t considered.
If you are reading this oven cleaning guide, then you are obviously willing to undertake the work yourself but just in case you need more convincing then here are some more positives:
- Cleaner ovens are much safer as grease and burnt on food increase the risk of an oven fire
- Your oven will be more efficient as an oven caked in burnt on residue will take longer to heat up, additionally if you can see through the door you will not have to keep opening the door to check on progress
- Your food will not always absorb the odours from baked on residue and should ultimately taste better
- If your extractor fan or hood is blocked up with grease and dirt then it will be unable to remove heat, cooking smells and, most importantly, Carbon Monoxide to the levels that it was designed for. Cleaning your extractor fan and extractor hood means that the extractor fan can work exactly how it is meant to. This means it can remove unwanted particles easily, ensuring that they are extracted from your kitchen
Types of Ovens
There are several different types of oven in the UK and some of these have specific cleaning needs and requirements. This oven cleaning guide will identify these and detail these needs individually.
The majority of households in the UK have single ovens in their kitchen. These are usually 600mm high and are either slotted under worktops or mounted at eye level. A single oven clean will usually include removing all shelves, side mounts, top, back and side panels in addition to removing the glass from the door if required. These are the most straightforward ovens to clean.
Double ovens are usually found in larger homes and offer a lot more versatility when cooking. These are commonly installed at eye level and are usually 900mm high. A double oven clean will usually include removing all shelves, side mounts, top, back and side panels in addition to removing the glass from the door if required. Like single ovens these are usually quite straightforward to clean.
Range Cookers combine an oven and hob in one and are typically much bigger than a standard oven. These may also have extra ovens, grills and warming drawers. A range cooker clean will usually include removing all shelves, side mounts, top, back and side panels in addition to removing the glass from the door if required. Additionally all warming drawers and the hob will also need to be cleaned. Because of this extra complexity and larger size the cleaning takes longer.
The most common types of hobs in UK homes are gas, electric, ceramic and induction. The process used will vary between types however the cost will usually remain the same and should be completed within the hour. All removable items such as racks and burner covers should be removed for cleaning.
These are different to most ovens but are included here for completeness. Because of their size, and enamel finish they require special attention and can take between four and five hours dependent on size and model. There don’t tend to be as many removable items on these stoves therefore a lot more old fashioned elbow grease is required. Please use any chemical caustic products with extreme caution as these can adversely affect the enamel finish. Consider researching the proprietary products recommended by AGA agents, these include wire brushes, chrome cleaner and enamel touch up paints.
Because the fans within extractor hoods are designed to recirculate air it is inevitable that these become very stick and greasy very quickly. Over time the filters can become clogged and will no longer perform as well as they should, or once did. More modern extractor hoods have easily removable permanent filters that can be placed in the dishwasher for an easy clean.
How Often Should I Clean my Oven?
An often overlooked fact is that many of us are at risk of a house fire by continuing to use our cooking appliances when they haven’t been cleaned. The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed that cooking appliances like ovens are a leading cause of house fires, responsible for an astonishing one in five blazes in homes last year. Despite this, most of us are cleaning our ovens just twice a year –potentially putting our cherished homes at risk.
Over time grease and food will stick to all of the surfaces of your oven and if this is left to build up will burn every time the oven is used.
Continuing to cook with a uncleaned oven will create carbon based fumes and will also affect the taste of your food. Excessive smoke during cooking is a definite sign that your oven could be a potential fire hazard as well as being harmful if inhaled. If the worst should happen and your oven does catch fire then turn it off immediately, close the doors to starve it of oxygen and let it cool down. Do not put water on the flames as this could cause any flaming oil or fat to splatter and spread the fire further, obviously if this fails to control the fire then contact the emergency services
Most households neglect their ovens, in fact 1 in 4 ovens in the UK are not working correctly due to built-up grease, grime and carbon deposits. This could mean that your food cooks unevenly and your temperature gauges may be displaying improper readings potentially resulting in under-cooked food and possible health risks. An oven should be thoroughly cleaned roughly every 6 months, with a bare minimum of once a year.
Oven Cleaning Guide
The following oven cleaning guide suggests some of the more popular methods, and products that are ideally suited for a home oven clean. This is not an exhaustive list by any means but this will give you several different ideas. Please ensure that your oven has completely cooled down before undertaking any of these steps.
- Dish cloths
- Plastic spatula or glass scraper / windscreen de-icing tool
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- Spray bottle
- Kitchen roll
- Rubber gloves
- Screwdriver if removed glass from non-sealed doors
Whilst the rubber gloves are not completely necessary, things are going to get messy, so a pair of rubber gloves means that you won’t be looking at oven grime underneath your nails for the next few weeks.
Step 1 – Dismantle Your Oven
This is not as scary as it sounds, most ovens have cooking racks and rack mountings that are easily removed by sliding out and / or lifting. Set these pieces aside and remove any food debris and unidentified burnt lumps with a dishcloth or some kitchen roll. At this point it may be useful to take a quick photo on your phone so you can see how the parts are laid out. This will also give you an excellent opportunity to compare before and after cleaning photos.
Step 2 – Prepare Your Oven Cleaner
The jury is out on this one. Obviously, there is a plethora of wonder cleaning chemicals based around harsh caustic solutions that do work well but also have their side effects as described later on. For this oven cleaning guide, we will look at one of the most effective oven cleaners that has been used for longer than most of us have been alive. This is a cheap and natural solution that will make light work of removing grime and grease from your oven.
To make this almost magical solution is remarkably simple. Mix half a cup of baking soda with water to form a paste and prepare to be amazed. Just add a few tablespoons of water initially and then spread this paste across the base and sides of your oven (avoiding any exposed heating elements) and work in to every nook and cranny, this is where you’ll be thankful that you have the gloves on. The paste should have a thick consistency, slightly thicker than toothpaste. Do not be concerned if this paste begins to turn brown, this is perfectly normal and is just the paste doing its job.
At this point the inside of the oven can be left, ideally overnight, allowing your magical paste to do its work. The longer that you can leave this solution to do its work, the easier it will be for you in the long run.
If you want to avoid the wait overnight, or are pushed for time then add some white vinegar to the paste and remove this by wiping after half an hour.
Step 3 – Clean the Oven Racks
Again, there are many commercial solutions that provide bags of chemicals that will strip everything from your racks but there are several other alternatives. Dependent on how much time you have and whether you have a shower in addition to a bath!!
Another method that is more family friendly is to soak the racks in the same solution in a large storage box, you may need to rotate the racks, but this will achieve the same results.
One alternative to scrubbing each individual strip of the shelves is to fill a bath very hot water and washing powder and leave your racks in overnight. After this the grime should be very easy to remove with a gentle scrub. It may be worth scrubbing the racks off whilst in the bathroom to avoid dripping grease on your carpets. Alternatively, the shelves should fit comfortably in a supermarket bag for life for moving.
If the shelves are not too dirty, then they can simply be placed in the dishwasher on the hottest setting available.
Step 4 – Clean the Oven Door
Again, there are many commercial solutions that are good for cleaning oven glass. The widely acclaimed ‘Pink Stuff’ has many plaudits, and is relatively cheap from either online or one of the many high street discount stores. As we already have the baking soda paste this can be used on the oven glass as well, simply apply the paste and leave for half an hour before wiping off.
Another popular method is to use a powdery dishwasher tablet. To use this just dip the tablet in some warm water (without removing the coating) and rub the tablet against the oven glass, keeping it moist throughout. This removes the grease and grime remarkably easily.
If you happy to do so then the glass in the door can be removed relatively easily by removing several screws, this means that the glass can be soaked along with the racks as above.
Step 5 – Clean the hob or Oven top
For this step remove all of the removable parts (if present, usually only on gas hobs) and leave this to soak in the sink with some hot water and washing powder. Yet again we can use our magic paste for this, with the extra addition of some salt for added abrasive qualities. Simply scrub with the paste and then wipe away the excess paste before reassembling the removed components if appropriate.
Step 6 – Remove the Magical Paste From the Oven
Having left the paste overnight begin by scraping off the excess with a spatula before wiping down with a damp cloth or kitchen roll. Now you have removed the majority of the paste pour some white vinegar into the spray bottle and spray the inside of the oven, paying attention to all of the nooks and crannies and wipe out again. There is a chemical reaction when the vinegar meets the baking soda solution so don’t be concerned when the solution foams up. This will smell a little but do not worry, this is normal and means that all of the paste residue is being removed.
Step 7 – Reassemble the Oven
Now the inside of your oven is clean simply reverse the steps that you took above when removing the removable parts, using the photos that you took in step one if necessary. You should now be able to sit back and admire your handiwork, and bathe in the warm glow of satisfaction from not only having completed one of the most despised jobs in the house but have saved money on a professional cleaner.
Chemical Cleaning Products
For completeness we will include this option however the above process is equally effective, cheaper and will not fill your house with unpleasant odours. This solution will not save any time and the results will not be that different. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for good old fashioned elbow grease and getting your hands dirty.
If you do decide to use these products then the steps are the same as above.
How Dangerous are Commercially Available Oven Cleaners
There are many potential risks associated with these products however these risks can be negated if used correctly and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
By their very purpose these products will have many caustic properties and should be treated with extreme caution. Please ensure that you follow all safety warnings. Most commercially available oven cleaners will contain sodium hydroxide, which can also be referred to as caustic soda. This is a very high alkaline product that can cause significant damage to your oven, and more importantly yourself. Common issues experienced when using caustic soda based products are as follows :
- Irritation to the eyes
- Chemical burns to the skin
- Damage to lungs and nostril
- Removal of paint
- Dulling of glass
- Rotting of rubber seals
- Corrosion of certain metals and finishes
- Distortion of heating elements
- Removal of any protective coverings, including Teflon used on non-stick items
Although this is not an exhaustive list this should give you an idea of some of the potential hazards associated with some oven cleaning products. Do not be fooled if a cleaning product does not mention sodium hydroxide specifically. Pay attention to the packaging and look out for the ‘corrosive’ label.
These products are also supplied in aerosol form, these can be particularly hazardous as there is no way to apply these with any real amount of precision, therefore overspray onto all items in the local vicinity can be a big issue.
The alternative is to purchase some of the ‘softer’ environmentally friendly products that are becoming more readily available. These contain surfactants that physically break down fat and grease rather than burning the off as caustic cleaners do. Unfortunately, the downside to these solutions is that they need several applications and a lot of hard work to achieve similar effects. However, they are definitely a lot more environmentally friendly and should present fewer problems around disposal after use.
There are many alternative solutions and tips such as using your own cleaner made of baking soda, salt and water or leaving the removable parts of your oven in a hot bath overnight with some wash liquid. These may have their benefits, but do you really want to be traipsing up and down the stairs with dripping, greasy oven shelves?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Oven Cleaning
I Have a Self-cleaning oven, do I Still Need to Clean my Oven?
How Soon After Cleaning can I use my Oven?
Now you have reached the end of this oven cleaning guide, then you should now know almost everything there is to know about oven cleaning, and how to make this unpleasant task more pleasant and restore your oven to almost showroom condition with as little effort as possible. We are not saying it will be easy but it should at least be easier! You should notice that your food will taste better and won’t always have that underlying taste of oven smokiness, and your oven should work more efficiently. You will be able to see through the oven door and will hopefully not be setting off the smoke alarms so often.
Now that your oven has been thoroughly cleaned you may want to consider looking at some proactive solutions to keeping it clean. There are numerous ways to do this, from specifically designed base liners to simply keeping a spare baking tray in the bottom of the oven to catch any excess liquid spillage and debris. All of these little steps will contribute to making subsequent cleans slightly easier.