If you cook, chances are that at some point, your food has boiled over, leaving a mess in the oven. There are oven cleaning chemicals available, but every time I’ve used them, the chemicals get caught in my lungs, causing me to go into a coughing fit. While businesses and restaurants are required to use certain approved chemicals to clean their ovens, home cooks can choose chemical free options that are less expensive and just as easy to use.
Many ovens have a self-cleaning mode. If you’re lucky enough to have that, run the self-cleaner first. You might find it’s enough to get rid of stuck-on food. Make sure to follow your oven model’s instructions for leaving in or taking out oven racks.
If that doesn’t work or if you don’t have a self-cleaning oven, here are some chemical-free steps to get rid of stuck-on dirt and grease.
1. Create your cleaning paste. Put baking soda in a cup and slowly mix in vinegar to form a paste. Add some salt as an abrasive.
2. Remove your oven racks. Let them soak in warm, soapy water.
3. Heat your oven to 200° F and let it sit at that temperature for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, let your oven cool slightly so it’s safe to touch, but not cooled off. The heat helps loosen dirt and grime, making it easier to clean.
5. Use a clean, damp rag to wipe off any excess paste once you’re done.
6. Line your oven. You can buy oven liners or lay down some aluminum foil in the bottom of your oven to catch drips as they happen. Then instead of scrubbing, you just need to replace the foil (or clean the liner.)
7. Scrub any stuck-on food particles off of your oven racks. A scouring pad will help you easily remove the food.
8. Rinse and dry your oven racks before returning them to the oven.