How to Clean a Filthy Oven with Homemade Oven Cleaner

Homemade oven cleaner before and after using baking soda paste

When my husband and I moved into our home, we inherited an oven in desperate need of a deep clean. Yet, I spent the next two years ignoring the problem because I was so intimidated by the idea of cleaning a filthy oven.

I do NOT like the smell of most commercial oven cleaners, and I didn’t want to deal with the smoke and fumes the self-cleaning function would create. I knew that I wanted to experiment with the LEAST toxic oven cleaner possible and then work my way up to see if commercial oven cleaners were actually necessary.

So one day, I mustered some energy and finally decided to clean my filthy oven with homemade oven cleaner.

Why Choose Homemade Oven Cleaner? 

When I started this project, my main goal was to discover the least toxic, gentlest oven-cleaning method that actually worked. 

I did a lot of internet research and many people on the internet suggested a “baking soda paste.”

Just baking soda and water mixed into a paste. 

I was extremely skeptical of this suggestion and anticipated this method would be a colossal waste of time and effort. BUT – I decided to do the dirty work and give it a try! 

If there was actually a way to clean a filthy oven with natural, homemade oven cleaner, I was determined to experience it for myself and then spread the good word.

So, I got to work on creating a baking soda paste of my very own.

Before You Get Started

Check if your oven has a self-cleaning function

If your oven has a self-cleaning function, you might want to save yourself some time and utilize it! Or at least make sure you aren’t voiding a warranty by using alternative cleaning methods on your self-cleaning oven. 

I chose NOT to use the self-cleaning function on my oven because it was extremely dirty and I didn’t want to deal with the inevitable smoke and fumes that result from self-cleaning a very messy oven. 

Plus, in some cases, the self-cleaning function can lead to burnt fuses or other oven damage (source: Consumer Reports).

That said, if your oven is in good condition and you clean it regularly, here’s how to utilize the self-cleaning oven function.

Avoid heating elements

The most important cautionary tip: avoid the heating elements! 

It’s a good idea to leave the heating elements alone when you apply any sort of oven-cleaning solution (commercial or homemade oven cleaner) to the inside of your oven. The walls and the base of your oven are fair game, but the last thing you want to do is accidentally damage a heating element. 

That could quickly lead to an expensive repair bill or even a new oven – so be careful!

Homemade Oven Cleaner Tools and Materials

Listed below are all of the ingredients and cleaning tools that I utilized for homemade oven cleaner.

Cleaning Ingredients

  • Dishwasher Tablets
  • Baking Soda
  • Water
  • Dish Soap
  • Distilled White Vinegar

Cleaning Tools

  • Deep sink, bathtub, or large bucket for the oven grates
  • Bowl (for the baking soda paste)
  • Sponge
  • Gloves (optional, but if your oven is as dirty as mine was, I’d highly recommend them)
  • Spray bottles (for vinegar cleaner and water)
  • Scraper (used to clean the oven glass)

Natural Oven Cleaning How-To Video

Do you want to see the entire process edited down to a one-minute video? Good news! You can see my entire step-by-step process in video form below.


I did NOT think that baking soda could clean this level of mess! But it turns out if you give baking soda paste enough time and a little bit of elbow grease, you don’t HAVE to mess around with smelly oven cleaner or other toxic/questionable cleaning solutions (if you don’t want to). #cleanwithme #ovencleaning #nontoxiccleaning #naturalcleaning

♬ original sound – Kait

The Easiest Way to Clean Oven Grates

How to clean oven grates easily with minimal scrubbing

Whether I’m cleaning oven grates, gas cooktop burner grates, or even some gas grill grates, I like this easy cleaning method. This time was no exception!

Step 1: Create the Cleaning Solution and Soak

I filled my kitchen sink with steaming hot water and then tossed two dishwasher tabs in to dissolve. 

My oven grates were only halfway submerged in the water, so I let them soak for about an hour before flipping them over to soak for another hour on the other side. 

AVOID SCRATCHING YOUR SINK: If you clean oven grates in a porcelain sink or a bathtub, be very careful because oven grates can easily cause scratches. To be safe, you can line your sink or tub with a rag towel before filling it with water, OR you can use a large bucket to soak your oven grates instead. 

Step 2: Lightly Scrub, then Rinse Clean

After soaking, I drained the water and gave each of the grates a quick scrub with a soapy sponge then rinsed them clean before setting them on a towel to dry.

Deep Cleaning an Oven with Baking Soda Paste

Step 1: Create the Paste

Create a cleaning paste using vinegar and water. I don’t have exact measurements but I used roughly 1 cup of baking soda and then slowly added water until it reached the texture of toothpaste.

To give the mixture a little grease-fighting oomph, I added two small squirts of dish soap and mixed that in. 

Step 2: Apply the Paste

I put on a pair of gloves and grabbed a sponge to apply the baking soda paste to the inside surfaces of my oven. I covered the walls, the base, the glass, and the inside of the oven door. 

Once covered, all you have to do is close the door and wait! 

I suggest letting the baking soda mixture work on breaking down grease and burnt messes for at least 4 hours. I let mine sit for 6 or 7 hours. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Never apply any cleaning solution to your oven’s heating elements. Doing so could cause damage, leading to expensive repair bills or even an oven replacement. 

Step 3: Spray with Water Periodically

I didn’t want the baking soda paste to dry out, so once or twice during the “waiting” period, I opened the oven door and sprayed the baking soda paste with water. 

Step 4: Dissolve the Baking Soda with Distilled White Vinegar

After 4-8 hours, it’s time to remove the baking soda! 

I sprayed the baking soda paste with a 1:1 mixture of distilled white vinegar and water. Vinegar causes the baking soda to fizz and more or less dissolve, making it easier to scrub away the baking soda residue.

Start at the top of your oven and work your way down.

Step 5: Scrub, Scrub, Scrub

Once I sprayed everything down with vinegar, it was time to scrub. Wearing gloves, I used a sponge to scrub the grease, baking soda, and other residue. 

This part of the job was the most labor-intensive. It took close to 45 minutes of (gentle) scrubbing, then spraying, then scrubbing some more until suddenly I could see the oven beneath the grease.

QUICK TIP: Fill a bowl with clean water and keep it close for this part of the job. You will want to periodically rinse and wring out your sponge in the water to remove baking soda and grease residue as you clean. Dump and refill the bowl of water as needed.

Step 6: More Distilled White Vinegar

While my expectations going into this project were low, it was around this point that I started feeling very optimistic! 

After removing the baking soda, there was still a bit of residue, so I sprayed it down with more vinegar and polished the surfaces with cleaning rags. 

After a few rounds of polishing, I was shocked to see an oven close to perfectly clean. I was in a “good enough for me” mood, but with a little bit more elbow grease, it would have looked brand new.

The only thing left to clean was the oven glass!

How to Clean Oven Glass with Vinegar and Dish Soap

While the oven interior looked amazing, the glass still had some stubborn burnt grease stains I needed to tackle next. Luckily, I still had the scraper tool I used to clean my burnt glass cooktop last year, and I knew it was the perfect tool for the job.

Step 1: Apply Cleaning Solution

Spray the glass with a 1:1 mixture of distilled white vinegar and water. Follow up by scrubbing gently with a slightly wet, soapy sponge. Allow that mixture to sit on the glass for 15 minutes or so before moving to the next step.

Step 2: Scrape Away Residue

Using the scraper, angle the razor blade at a 45-degree angle and carefully scrape the stuck residue away from the glass.

Scraping residue off of the glass is SO satisfying. I kept a few paper towels nearby to clean the blade and remove the loosened residue from the glass every few minutes. 

I also kept the bottle of vinegar cleaner nearby to spray the glass whenever I wiped it dry. You do NOT want to use the razor on dry glass. Slightly soapy, wet glass is what you want for the razor to glide without scratching.

Step 3: Polish Clean

Once all of the residue has been removed, it’s time for the best part – polishing that glass! 

Grab a microfiber cloth and give the glass a final spray with the vinegar, and then enjoy your gorgeous reflection in your shiny oven glass. 


Does baking soda actually clean an oven?

Shockingly, yes. I did not think it would, but after trying this method, I’m not sure I would ever clean my oven any other way again!

Is baking soda in an oven dangerous?

If you are careful about where you apply the baking soda place (making sure to avoid all heating elements), then it’s most likely safe. Baking soda is non-combustible, so it is unlikely to become a fire hazard in your oven (source: MCR Safety).

What is the fastest way to clean an oven?

A product like Easy Off would likely be faster than a baking soda paste. The tradeoff is you’re introducing a harsh cleaning solution to your home that will burn your eyes and skin with direct contact. 

As a mom with two small kids at home, I wanted to avoid the stuff if possible. I was glad to discover a safe, gentle option that worked shockingly well!

Final Thoughts on Homemade Oven Cleaner

Going into this project, I was extremely skeptical. I genuinely believed that this would be a lot of work for little reward, but I was wrong! Baking soda paste might take longer than a commercial oven cleaner, but combined with distilled white vinegar, it truly cleans a filthy oven.

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