7 Things You Should Never Do When Cleaning the Oven

published Dec 12, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Cleaning the oven ranks high on any list of most dreaded household tasks. Oven cleaning is awkward, time-consuming, and can call for a lot of elbow grease. With so much effort involved, many of us put off the task — and the grease and grime get even worse, which in turn makes the chore even worse. Whether you’re a faithful oven cleaner or (more likely) a procrastinator, it’s important to remember what not to do when you do get around to tackling the job.

Here are seven things you should never do when cleaning the oven.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

1. Don’t wait too long.

One of the reasons oven cleaning is so tough is because spills and drips are often forgotten. It’s easy to close the oven door to the messes that are building up inside, but this will make things worse. Rather than let messes harden and get baked onto the walls, make it a habit to clean spills and splatters as soon as they’re cool enough to wipe away. Integrating this practice into your nightly kitchen-cleaning routine will help messes get cleaned when they’re fresh and easier to deal with. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Don’t be afraid to use the harsh stuff when necessary. 

If you’ve allowed your oven to get to the point of seemingly no return (no judgment; we’ve been here more than once ourselves!), consider a re-set cleaning session in which you use harsh oven cleaning chemicals you may otherwise avoid. This way, you get your oven back to an acceptable baseline so you can use gentler methods going forward. Definitely implement safety precautions while using oven cleaners, and store unused cleaner far away from access to children and pets. 

Related: 7 Surprising Ways to Use Oven Cleaner

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani/Kitchn

3. Don’t jump straight to harsh oven cleaners.

All that (from above) being said, you can absolutely give it a go without harsh cleaners. Brace yourself for some exertion and expect to exercise patience, but know it can get clean using a few pantry ingredients.

Read more: How To Clean an Oven with Baking Soda and Vinegar

4. Don’t be afraid to get creative.

We’ve had success with all sorts of things, including a scrub brush drill attachment, a pumice stone, a Magic Eraser, Pink Slime, and even a dishwasher tablet.

5. Don’t mix chemicals. 

When a mess is stubborn, it’s tempting to throw every cleaning product at it. But this can lead to toxic fumes and dangerously corrosive solutions. Never mix chemicals. Even seemingly innocuous cleaners like white vinegar can become toxic when mixed with other products. In particular, don’t mix oven cleaner with any bleach or bleach-containing products. 

6. Don’t rely on the self-cleaning feature. 

The self-cleaning feature is pretty much a useless selling point at best and a dangerous feature at worst. It can tie up your oven for hours, damage your oven, and fill your home with stinky fumes. Rather than turning to this too-good-to-be-true feature, focus on routine and frequent oven maintenance. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

7. Don’t forget about safety.

When cleaning your oven, especially if you opt to use the harsh stuff for a cleaning re-set, make sure you read and implement all safety precautions. Ensure adequate ventilation, wear gloves and goggles, and make sure sensitive individuals and pets are out of the house. 

How do you clean your oven? Tell us your best tips in the comments below.