Stay Connected

Monday, February 6, 2023

Cleaning My Oven the Non-Toxic Way

After the holiday baking and roasting season, one of the first jobs on my spring-cleaning list was to clean the oven. I didn't start out to clean my oven the hard way. In fact, my plan had been to use the self-clean feature. I set the oven to "clean" then sat down to eat my lunch. I was actually looking forward to the extra heat the cleaning cycle would give to the kitchen. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a flash. I looked over to the oven and nothing. A minute later, another flash. And again looking at the oven, nothing. Then a bunch of flashes and I caught those. A few seconds later, a little fire broke out inside the oven. Not knowing what to do, I grabbed the box of baking soda (thinking I would douse the little fire) and turned the oven cleaning off. Only, the oven would not unlock as it was still too hot to be safe. 

So, I sat there, watching the little fire burn itself down, and after a minute, finally out. What worried me was that the little fire was burning right beneath the heating element. I was afraid the element could be damaged. When the oven finally cooled enough for me to open the door, I did. I waited for the interior to cool enough to get in there and scrape up the stuff that I should have scraped before cleaning. And before I knew it, I was cleaning my oven the old-fashioned way.

For my own health, I try to use non-toxic cleaning products as much as possible. Which means I don't use spray oven cleaners. As a bonus, what I do use for cleaning is often super duper cheap, using ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, hot water, and liquid dish hand washing soap. But as you know, cleaners like these also require a good deal of elbow grease to get the job done.

My oven cleaning technique was a bunch of scraping, scrubbing with baking soda and warm water, followed by scraping and scrubbing some more. I was able to get the floor of the oven pretty clean. The oven window was another story. Even though I'd just cleaned my oven in the fall, all that holiday baking and roasting left the window covered in baked-on grease splatters. I scrubbed that window with baking soda, a scrubbing sponge, some dish soap . . .and got no where. That's when I thought of scraping the glass with a paint scraper. I couldn't find the scraper that has a razor blade, but did find the flat edged one that I use when scraping old paint or varnish from furniture I plan on refinishing. But surprise, surprise, this actually worked. I first tried to scrape the dry window with little success. Then I thought to wait until just after I baked something and try cleaning the window when the oven was just a little warm. This was slightly better. Next, I added some baking soda and rubbed it around with a wet cloth. This is when I had success with the scraper. After scraping until the window was nearly clear, I then polished off any little bits of grease with more baking soda and water.

What I noticed was the part of the oven window that I began on first, when the door was still slightly warm, scraped off more cleanly and with less effort than the half of the window that had fully cooled. The heat from the oven must slightly soften the baked on grease, much like a warm from the oven cookie comes off the baking sheet more easily than when fully cooled. And the thin baking soda paste must have also led to some softening of the baked grease. Good things to know for next time.

I still have the sides of the oven and racks to clean. I've worked enough for one day. I'll tackle those tomorrow.


  1. In my old house I used the self cleaning oven all the time. The house I live in now had an electric range (oven started on fire while heating a pizza and burned the oven up) and swapped it our for a gas range with self cleaning option but I have never used it. I tried the baking soda/vinegar and only had clumpy lumps of soda and not so much cleaning and it left a white powdery residue that I wiped off so many times that finally after weeks it was gone. I've gone back to Easy Off blue lid and I found it didn't leave me gasping to breath or anything. It was something like spray on warm oven, wait 5 minutes and wipe clean. I found it really worked well even on the glass. I guess this is one thing I'll use a product for.

    1. Hi Alice,
      Thanks for sharing your experience. I'll keep blue lid Easy Off in mind for next time.

  2. I was waiting to hear that you used hand sanitizer as part of your cleaning routine on the oven - maybe on the glass. Good luck on the rest of the oven. It's a big job.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Thank you. I mostly finished the oven today. It is a big job and I can see the appeal to self-cleaning features and cleaning sprays. I don't know why they don't make the inside of the oven black to begin with.

  3. You are reminding me that I need to clean my oven. I've used the self-clean feature without issue but your story made me a little nervous to do that again. Thanks for sharing your successes with us.

    1. Hi Kris,
      The fire kind of startled me and made me nervous to use the self-clean feature. I've used it several times before without issue. I think part of the problem was with me, and not scraping out the baked crud (pie's overflowing, etc) first. Good luck to you.

  4. My sister worked at a appliance repair service years ago and they highly recommend that you don't use the self-cleaning option on ovens because it heats at such a high temperature that it burns up the heating element much sooner, thus needing to replace it. Good to know that a warm oven is easier to clean with elbow grease.

    1. Hi Ruthie,
      I'm so glad you said this. I had heard this before long ago. And I certainly don't want to fork over the cash to replace the oven element right now. Another thing that burns out oven elements faster is improperly using the broil feature. On old ovens, you were supposed to leave the oven door open a crack while broiling. Apparently on newer ovens, you're supposed to leave the oven door closed while broiling. My sister learned this lesson the hard way. She burnt out a couple of elements before a repairman told her to leave the door shut while broiling. Who knew? When we were growing up we were told to leave the door open a crack.
      Thanks again, Ruthie.


Thank you for joining the discussion today. Here at creative savv, we strive to maintain a respectful community centered around frugal living. Creative savv would like to continue to be a welcoming and safe place for discussion, and as such reserves the right to remove comments that are inappropriate for the conversation.


Be a voice that helps someone else on their frugal living journey

Are you interested in writing for creative savv?
What's your frugal story?

Do you have a favorite frugal recipe, special insight, DIY project, or tips that could make frugal living more do-able for someone else?

Creative savv is seeking new voices.


share this post