How to ‘green clean’ your oven

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Oh, I tried chemical oven cleaner once. Never again.

Although I thought I’d rinsed the oven thoroughly, some oven cleaner residue was lurking still… and it nearly killed us 😯

So these days I use the natural method of oven cleaning, which requires nothing more than some bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar, and a bit of elbow grease!

For those who would also like to steer clear of dangerous chemicals and have a spotless oven, here’s a quick pictorial.

This is what my oven looked like beforehand. It’s not as bad as it could be, but still speckled with baked-on dirt. Yuck!

My oven before

My oven before

A closer look

A closer look

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I only clean my oven roughly every six months (hey, stop judging me!). It’s a lot of work and I doubt anyone enjoys the task, but it has to be done.

A last look at the dirt inside

A last look at the dirt inside

Cleaning the oven with bicarb and vinegar is a two-part process, because you need to leave it overnight (same as with some chemical oven cleaners).

Step 1: Liberally sprinkle bicarb in the oven

Step 1: Liberally sprinkle bicarb in the oven

For the first step, try to get the bicarb up on the top of the oven and in all the hard-to-reach corners too. You could also make a paste with bicarb and water to get it to stick if needed.

Step 2: Spray the bicarb with white vinegar

Step 2: Spray the bicarb with white vinegar

Be warned: Step 2 releases some caustic fumes, though nothing compared to the dangerous fumes from chemical cleaners. I spritz the vinegar onto the soda with a spray bottle, which helps to reach odd spots.

The bicarb and vinegar immediately react with a hiss

The bicarb and vinegar immediately react with a hiss

Now you can leave the mixture to do the hard work overnight while you sleep 🙂 I take out all the trays and racks and treat them separately and leave them in the bath. Our oven’s door also detaches easily, which makes the job simpler.

Step 3: The overnight work

In the morning you should see that much of the mixture has dried. Often it will have turned brown in spots, which is how you know that it’s been eating away at the dirt on that surface.

Step 4: The hard work begins

Step 4: The hard work begins

Now it’s time to put on your gloves, grab a scouring pad and start scrubbing. If you did a thorough job on the first two steps, the mixture of bicarb and vinegar will have lifted off a lot of dirt and grease that can just be wiped away. In the pic above you can see a circular area I’ve scrubbed clean without much effort.

A helpful tool: the partitioned bucket

I recently bought a cleaning bucket with two separate sections for clean and dirty water. This was a great help and is a worthwhile investment (although I can’t help wishing it came with wheels too).

Step 5: Scrubbing, rinsing and drying

Step 5: Scrubbing, rinsing and drying

There’s no secret to the rest of the job: it’s just scrubbing, rinsing and drying. I lay newspaper on the floor to catch the inevitable spills, and wipe up the excess bicarb with paper towels. The roof of the oven is my least favourite part because of the awkward access, but with persistence it comes clean as well.

It’s a tedious job that took me just over an hour (maybe because of all the interruptions for photos?), but you can make good use of the time by listening to music or audio books in the background as you work. The great thing about using ‘green cleaners’ such as bicarb and vinegar is that if for some reason you don’t rinse them off properly, they won’t harm you or the food you cook in the oven afterwards.

And the results are just as good as with any chemical cleaner! 🙂

Sparkling clean again

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13 responses »

  1. Thanks for the interesting information – there’s nothing better than a clean, fresh, natural house. Great post, thanks again.

  2. I’m yet to have a go at doing this myself. I’ve been using oven cleaning medway, a professional company, to do my cooker. The results have been excellent, so if you’re in the area I’d be happy to recommend them, but for a while I have thought about trying my hand at it myself. I’ll let you know how it goes! Thanks again 🙂

  3. Well done! Super job. I’m very big on my green cleaning and I use plant based cleaning products – the brand’s called Ecover. A bit more pricey than others but you get to stay chemical free! Hurrah!

    • That’s good to hear. I tried a local green brand but wasn’t very impressed, so the classic housewife’s go-to mix of bicarb and vinegar is the way for me 🙂

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