Thursday, September 13, 2012

Non-Toxic Oven Cleaner

A lot of us have self-cleaning ovens now, right? I do and love it.

If you don't, you probably wish you did. The thought of oven cleaning is just not appealing on any level. The chemical fumes, the difficulty reaching the back of the oven and the elbow grease required all add up to one, not-very-pretty picture.

There was a time when we all thought chemical cleaners were the only way to get an oven clean.

The truth is, there is another way! You can clean your oven without using nasty chemicals! 

Photo courtesy of Gracey at Morguefile.

Years ago, I came across a magazine article called "The Safest Cleaners You Can Find". I snipped it out and put it in a binder of household tips I used to keep in the pre-Internet age. (Unfortunately, I don't remember which magazine it came from, so I can't give proper credit, but the author's name was Shannon Loughrin-Hunt.)

The simple tip for cleaning your oven is to switch the chemicals for baking soda.

Here's the direct quote:

Trade your oven cleaner for baking soda. "Cover the bottom of the oven with about a quarter inch of baking soda," says Berthold-Bond. "Spray water over the baking soda to keep it moist, and let it set for six hours or so," she says. Afterward, scoop the goop out and then sponge-clean. "It lifts up the grime just as well without any of the danger."

(Berthold-Bond refers to Annie Berthold-Bond, author of Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living.)

I can vouch for how well baking soda works as an oven cleaner. In our last apartment before home ownership, we had a non-self-cleaning oven. I used this method on it several times. It works as an all-over oven cleaner and as a spot cleaner when you need to just clean up a small oven spill.

A word of caution: Don't try this on your self-cleaning oven. Most manufacturers will tell you not to put any type of cleaning agent, baking soda included, on the finish. 


  1. Perhaps I will try the baking soda method again --- I thought it was a total failure the only time I tried it and resorted to those chemicals -- after the appliance repair guy told us never to actually use the self cleaning feature as the ovens and fans and such are not actually built to deal with the heat and I would just end up replacing the fan assembly much sooner (of course, my initial response to that message was to ignore the oven until it needed the heavy duty chemicals to take care of the problem;-)

  2. Sassy - I remember the first time I tried it, I had to repeat a time or two until the oven was truly clean. Once I kept on top of it, it was fine. I'd rather use baking soda a few times than the chemicals even once!

    I'd never heard that about the self-cleaning feature. My oven is over 10 years old and I've been using that feature for years with no problems. Maybe you need a new appliance guy!

  3. Thanks for your idea. Before I discovered your blog, I used to chemical cleaning. A sort of acid spray type chemical that gives chlorine smelling fumes. Baking soda is safe, clean and doesn't give off obnoxious fumes.

  4. I am working on my procrastination so I can use the wonderful things you research and post here.


  5. I'm procrastinating, too. I really need to run the self cleaner on my oven, but I'm waiting until it's a bit cooler outside.

  6. Wait. I'm supposed to CLEAN my oven??

  7. Ha ha! Sounds like a perfect activity for kids that are home from school. :)

  8. Barb -- I'm thinking that perhaps what I really needed was a new oven, a different brand! But I am starting in a different house with a clean oven so I'll try to stay on top of it this time -- and try the baking soda again.

  9. I'll have to give this a try; I absolutely hate cleaning my nasty stove with even nastier chemicals.

  10. That is really a good idea. I think I might try it soon, because oven is one of the places that need a good cleaning.

  11. I wonder how much is the price of the baking soda nowadays. Because it is useful. Lots of areas covers it ability to help. Thank you for this article, for it's healthy tip also.