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July 25, 2021

How to Clean an Oven with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Truth be told, most of us never look forward to cleaning the oven. Unless you are a professional cleaner, you will need to gather enough cleaning solutions and brace yourself for one of the most challenging cleaning tasks around the house.

Sure, you can simply heat the entire house with the “self-clean” cycle or turn to a heavy-duty cleaner to make your oven cleaner than ever. If none of these solutions sounds appealing to you, you can always use some baking soda and vinegar to give your oven an excellent cleaning.

Cleaning the oven without harsh chemicals- is it possible? Why should you try it?

If you were curious enough to check out the ingredients on the label of a commercial oven cleaner, you would see a long list of chemicals. Regular oven cleaners are made with many chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, monoethanolamine, and butoxydiglycol. These chemicals, along with other chemicals, can irritate the respiratory system and burn the lungs, skin, and eyes. You have to wear long gloves and avoid inhaling the fumes. This should be enough of a warning that regular oven cleaners may damage your health. It makes perfect sense that many consumers avoid using the chemicals around their children and pets or appliances they use for cooking.

As with almost everything in life, before the chemicals, there were natural solutions. It’s the same for oven cleaning, where a natural solution is safer and more effective than you think. Additionally, you don’t have to wear long gloves and it costs a fraction of the price of regular oven cleaners.

Oven cleaners can be dangerous for your health

For the last decades, toxic chemicals were the most common solution for cleaning the oven. It only takes a minor accident such as spilling oven cleaner in the oven door crevice to have your house smelling like chemicals for years every time you use the oven.

Manufacturers strongly recommend users follow the instructions when using such solutions, and we suggest the same. If you still think about using chemical products instead of natural, here are some of the reactions that common ingredients in oven cleaners can cause:

  • Butane:

The fuel is commonly used in cigarette lighters, and it can cause drowsiness when inhaled. Asphyxia and cardiac arrhythmia are also possible.

  • Diethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether

It irritates the eyes and skin and becomes toxic when ingested.

  • Sodium Hydroxide

It can generate irritation of the skin and eyes and even allergic reactions.  

  • Monoethanolamine (MEA)

Monoethanolamine may cause skin and eye burns. If contact with skin is widespread or prolonged, it can be absorbed and cause even more harm.

How to clean your oven with baking soda and vinegar

You don’t need to turn to chemicals to have a nice smelling and clean oven; some baking soda and vinegar will do. Baking soda can help you with many cleaning tasks around the house, and this method is recommended when you haven’t cleaned the oven for some time.

What you need

You don't need to rush to the store to buy the ingredients. Nine times out of ten, you already have them around the house. Here’s what you need:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Damp dishcloth
  • Rubber gloves
  • Spray bottle
  • Plastic/silicone spatula

Step 1- Coat the oven

Being meticulous when cleaning is fundamental for success. Don’t skip any of the following steps:

  1. Take out the oven racks and everything you have inside the oven, such as oven thermometres and pizza stones. Always make sure that you haven't left anything else inside the range before you start cleaning.
  2. Manage the buildup and scrape it all out. If this is the first time you clean the oven in months, you may have to deal with plenty of burnt food and buildup. Do your best and remove as much of the loose buildup as possible before applying the baking soda. A silicone or plastic spatula could help you scrape off the loose matter. It's unnecessary to remove it all—you only need to get rid of what is loose or almost loose.
  3. Make a paste with baking soda and water. Add ½ cup of baking soda and three tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Stir it until it turns into a paste that is easy to spread. If three tablespoons of water aren't enough to make the paste, you can add a bit more water.
  4. Take your time and spread the paste inside of the oven. You can apply it with your hands if you're wearing rubber gloves. Should it be tricky to do it, you can always use a clean spatula to spread the paste. Don't apply the paste on the heating elements, and coat the whole interior of the oven with your baking soda paste. Don’t worry if the paste turns brown or chunky.

Step 2- Wipe down the oven

This is the part where you wait:

  1. Let the paste work overnight. Ideally, it would be best if you let it sit for 12 hours or so. If you’re in a hurry or don’t have that much patience, you should allow it to work for at least 40 minutes. Try to find the time because you don't want to repeat the process any time soon. You will have to do it repeatedly if you don't let the paste sit long enough.
  2. When time’s up, you need to wipe off the baking soda paste. Use a damp cloth to remove the paste and some warm water to dampen the cloth. You might have to put some muscle into it to remove all paste.
  3. Scrape off any left paste. Sometimes, the damp cloth won’t be enough to remove all of the paste off. If you find yourself in a pickle, use a spatula to get all paste off the oven. Don’t worry about the leftover residue—you will use vinegar in the next step to get rid of that as well.

Step 3- Get the vinegar

  1. Pour white vinegar into a spray bottle. Spray it inside of the oven over the areas where you notice paste residues. The vinegar will make the baking soda foam up.
  2. Remember that any cleaning job requests attention to detail and patience. You go back to wiping down the oven once more. Get a damp cloth to wipe off the foamy areas of the oven. Spray vinegar if you still notice residues, and wipe them again. Basically, you need to wipe until your oven is cleaner than ever before.

Don’t forget to clean the oven racks!

You cannot say your cleaning job is complete until you’ve also cleaned the oven racks.

  • Sprinkle baking soda over the oven racks
  • Pour/spray white vinegar onto the racks. The baking soda will start foaming
  • Once you see the foaming, place the racks into a tub filled with hot water.
  • Let the racks sit in the bathtub overnight
  • In the morning, place the oven racks back into place (after you’ve cleaned the oven).

The tip for the road

You don’t always have to rush in a store and get the pricey cleaning solutions to clean your oven, carpets, appliances, etc. Sometimes, some baking soda and white vinegar will have the same results and won’t even pose a risk for your health. Just give it a try!

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