How to Make Your Oven Sparkle Without Chemicals
I am not a fan of the self-cleaning feature on my oven. I truly hate that smell of Teflon being heated to obscene temperatures. I refuse to use it because I hate that smell more than I hate looking at my grease, spills, and messes. Unfortunately, I also do not like the store-bought chemical-laden oven cleaners. As a parent trying to limit my children’s exposure to toxic chemicals, I try to evaluate all sources of where they may come from and control what I can.
Most commercial oven cleaners contain many chemicals and carcinogens that pose huge health risks when inhaled: butane, diethylene glycol monobutyl ether, monoethanolamine, sodium hydroxide, and diethanolamine, to name a few. Inhaling these chemicals (which is virtually impossible to avoid while using the products) can cause not only major respiratory irritation, but may also lead to headaches, confusion, nosebleeds, and even cancer. Along with that clean oven may also come the chemical flavor residue on anything you cook for weeks afterward.
So I usually just wipe up any immediate spills the best I can and then go about my day. Honestly, I put off truly scrubbing it until the mess is really driving me crazy. Contorting into weird positions to scrub and clean something that no one will even appreciate – let alone see – is not my favorite chore.
But the conundrum still exists: what do I do to remove baked-on spills and grease, restore a brand-new look to my oven, and avoid those harsh chemicals?
I finally decided to combine some of my favorite natural cleaners that I feel comfortable using around the house and create my own magic. It ended up being so simple and only required exactly what I had on hand.
And guess what? I bet you have each and every one of these ingredients on hand, too!
Natural Oven Cleaner
- 1 dirty oven
- 1 spray bottle
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ½ cup baking soda
- 1 retractable razor blade
Open oven door and remove all of the oven racks. Use a spatula to gently scrape off any debris that is easily removed.
Note: If you notice that you have truly stubborn baked-on grime, you can first put a bowl of water in an oven-proof pot and leave it in there at 450ºF for 20 minutes prior to beginning the next steps. This will help loosen dirt and grease with the steam.
Mix the water and vinegar together in the spray bottle. Spray this mixture all over your oven door and/or the inside of your oven.
Sprinkle a thick layer of the kosher salt evenly over wherever you sprayed.
Sprinkle a thick layer of the baking soda evenly over the salt. Spray the vinegar/water mixture over the salt and baking soda until it forms a paste. You should begin to hear the vinegar and baking soda working together at this point. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
Then, using a scouring pad, scrub with a little man power until you start to see the grime coming off. Once you have scrubbed all that you want, get out your razor and, making sure that the mixture stays very wet, gently scrape off any remaining grime.
Once you’re done, you can invest in a nonstick oven-liner mat to keep in the bottom of your oven. Although you’ll miss out on some of the fun of this oven-cleaning process in the future, you’ll come to appreciate the ease of just removing the liner, wiping clean, and placing it back in.
Written by Kim Maes