I Took My Oven Door Apart to Clean It — Here’s How It Went

updated Nov 24, 2020
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Credit: Kaitlin Flannery

Once upon a time, I set out to clean my oven for the very first time. With no oven cleaner on hand, I consulted Kitchn’s archives to find their extremely popular guide to cleaning an oven with baking soda. It’s an intense-but-simple project requiring no more than a thick paste of baking soda and water … and copious amounts of elbow grease. The mildly abrasive mixture turns from pure white to a muddy brown as you work, and days (ahem, months) of baked-on grease and grime wash away. It’s shockingly effective.

Most home cooks can follow Kitchn’s guide and be done, left to enjoy an oven that sparkles like new. Other home cooks, like myself, will be left with the unhappy discovery that a fair amount of grease and grossness has somehow been trapped between the panes of glass in their oven door. Sure, the oven will be clean, but you still won’t be able to see clearly through the window. 

Credit: Kaitlin Flannery

In this instance, your manual might suggest that you call a professional to take care of the matter. But a stubborn, midwestern, daughter-of-a-DIY-fanatic like myself would only pfhh! at the thought. 

I admit I slept on the annoyance for a time: waking each morning to be greeted by the obnoxious, brown, greasy streaks on the glass of my otherwise pristine oven. A carefully hung dish towel would hide my shame from visitors, but oh, I knew it was there.

Eventually I cast fear aside, consulting not the manual for a solution, but YouTube instead. It was there I discovered a kindly gentleman who shared instructions for solving the very problem I faced. All I would need was a pair of screwdrivers and some towels, which meant this solution would be free and could be completed without leaving my home. Bingo. 

Of course, I only have experience with my own oven, but searching “take apart oven door [model]” on YouTube will likely get you going in the right direction. This isn’t hard, I promise, but I encourage you to watch the entire video before you begin, and consider having a quarantine helper nearby to help move the door panel around — it’s pretty unwieldy at certain points in the process. Make sure to keep careful track of which screws come out at which step (see photo below; you may want to make more notes, but I used a system of top to bottom, and inside to outside), and make sure you mark them appropriately to be able to reinstall them properly when it comes time to reassemble — they’ll likely be of different lengths and sizes. 

Credit: Kaitlin Flannery

Before you start, make sure you have lots of room for the glass panels to “land” once you’ve removed them from the inside of the door. This is a great project to use a dining room table for, and you may even find it helpful to bring out a card table too. Glass is strongest when moved in an upright position, so when you remove pieces from the door frame, flip them perpendicular to the floor and transport in that position until you can set it somewhere flat to clean (I rested everything on towels for extra insurance). Also, take note that the edges of the glass panes may be a little sharp; lift and handle with caution. 

Credit: Kaitlin Flannery

Once you have everything disassembled, bust out your favorite glass cleaner and perhaps some more baking soda for the extra tricky parts. I encountered an oily, stubborn film in some areas, visible only when I moved my head just so, so do your best to be extremely thorough here. It’s time-consuming to get to this point, so there’s no sense in having to do it twice! 

Credit: Kaitlin Flannery

In the end, the project took me about two hours from start to finish. My glass has a few streaks in it after reassembling, but I’m still delighted! Being able to actually see into my oven has been a surprising little piece of happiness in these past few weeks, and isn’t that something we could all use a little more of these days?