How to clean an oven - the H&G guide to getting your oven spotless

Getting in the habit of cleaning an oven often ensures the task becomes easier (because there's less to do). Follow these simple steps to guarantee a gleaming oven each time

How to clean an oven
(Image credit: Wickes)

Cleaning an oven is not an enviable task and if you're not blessed with a sounds-to-good-to-be-true self-cleaning pyrolytic model, it's up to you to keep your oven clean year round.

It's one of our least favorite chores around the home - a complicated mess of dirt and chemical cleaner, one that you know full well that if you did more often it wouldn't take so long to do, and yet you still manage to put it off when it needs it the most. 

It's usually around this time of year when we're all baking and roasting more than usual that having a dirty oven is made all the more obvious. Whether your oven emits a burning smell when it's preheating or you're faced with baked-on dirt every time you open the door, it's clearly high time for a deep clean.

As with all cleaning jobs, tackling an oven is about regular maintenance – giving it a speedy wipe down or a deep scrub every now and again will save you so much time and effort in the long run. 

Read on to discover H&G's fail-safe, step-by-step guide to cleaning an oven.

How-to-clean-an-oven-Polly-Eltes

(Image credit: Future/Polly Eltes)

1. Protect yourself

A specialist oven cleaner is your best bet to remove all the baked-in grease and dirt your oven has accumulated over time, but the majority of these contain harsh chemicals that can irritate skin. 

Make sure you wear protective gloves made from rubber or latex and wear eye goggles if you're prone to eye irritation, too. Open your windows and keep the space well ventilated before you start.

It's worth placing newspaper down on the floor surrounding your oven, too, to protect your floor from drips

See: Cleaning tips – our essential guide to keeping your home spotless

2. How to clean oven racks

Next, remove the racks or shelves from your oven. If your cleaning solution came with a plastic bag, pop the racks in that and follow the instructions on the packet, making sure to cover the racks with the cleaning solution on both sides.  

If your cleaner didn't come with a bag, a garbage bag will do. Spray them with the solution (ideally outdoors for safety) and bag them up. Seal the bag and leave them steeping for a half hour or so.

Make sure you store these in a place away from food preparation and out of reach of children or pets. When done, remove them from the bag and rinse off any residue.

How-to-clean-an-oven-Brent-Darby

(Image credit: Future/Brent Darby)

3. How to clean the oven cavity

When the racks are steeping in the cleaner, you can get on with cleaning the cavity of your oven. 

Strat by scraping off any burnt-on food inside the oven. If the door glass is removable, take it out and leave it to soak in hot soapy water. Spray or wipe the inside of the cavity with the cleaning solution making sure you cover every corner, as well as the inside of the door. 

Depending on the type of oven you have, avoid spraying any gas vents or heating elements with cleaner. Work the solution info any hard-to-reach places using an old toothbrush. Close the door and leave for a half hour (or longer if your cleaner states otherwise).

When a suitable amount if time has passed, wipe away the cleaning solution, along with any grease and dirt that it has removed and clean the cavity again with a damp cloth. Don't forget to wipe down the seals around to door.

If you removed the oven glass, rinse it and replace it now. Leave the oven open to air dry and replace the racks and close the door.

4. Don't forget the exterior

When the interior, both cavity and racks, are clean, you need to turn your attention to the exterior. Make a cleaning solution using equal parts vinegar and water and use it to clean the front of the oven door. Rinse and then dry it using a clean cloth.

5. Or try using an eco cleaner

As an alternative to a traditional chemical cleaner, you could make your own solution using half a cup of baking soda with a little water to make a paste. 

Apply to the oven cavity and leave overnight before rinsing away with hot water. Spray vinegar over any remaining residue - it will foam up and is easily removed with a cloth.

  • For a whole heap of kitchen inspiration, head to our dedicated kitchens section here

How-to-clean-an-oven-Carolyn-Barber

(Image credit: Future/Carolyn Barber)

What is the best way to clean an oven?

The best way to clean an oven is little and often. The longer you leave it between cleans, the harder the cleaning job. 

If you remember to wipe your oven down quickly after every use and clean it properly once a month, it's unlikely you'll need to reach for a harsh chemical cleaner to make it look good as new.

How do you clean a really dirty oven door?

As advised above, if you can remove the door glass, then do so. Depending on how dirty it is, use a suitable cleaner to remove any stains and grime. 

Let it soak in your bathtub at least a half hour to ensure any baked-on dirt loosens. Rinse the door dry with a cloth and reattach it to your oven when finished.

How do you clean a burnt oven?

If your oven is covered in burnt-on spills and splashes and bits of food, it might be worth calling in a professional cleaner to do the job for you and save yourself a whole load of hassle. 

However, if you're up for challenge, you need simply follow the steps above and use the strongest cleaner your can find. Amazon sells a wide range of oven cleaners if you can't find something suitable in your supermarket.

Ginevra Benedetti
Ginevra Benedetti

Hello there, I’m Ginevra Benedetti, 

Associate Editor on the Homes Content Team at Future. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been writing about interiors for the past 16 years on the majority of Britain’s monthly interiors titles, such as Ideal Home, Country Homes & Interiors and Style at Home, as well as Livingetc and of course, Homes & Gardens

This naturally feeds into writing for wonderful websites like HomesandGardens.com and IdealHome.co.uk.


Over the years, I’ve interviewed some of the most talented designers in the business and I’ve pretty much written about every area of the home, from shopping and decorating, appliances and home tech, wallpaper and fabric, kitchens and bathrooms, even extensions and conversions.  

I never tire about reading or writing about interiors, from classic timeless designs to innovative smart tech - the subject is always evolving, just as our homes do, year after year.