How to clean an oven without chemicals – 4 approaches for greener cleaning

Remove the risks of oven cleaners with these natural methods of cleaning an oven

A double silver oven and stove set up on a kitchen with marbel floors and blush pink cabinets
(Image credit: Rehome)

There is no task worse than cleaning an oven when tackling a kitchen. They are a hotspot for tough grease and grime that can take an age to scrub off by hand.  It makes sense, then, that we might be drawn toward powerful chemical cleaners that offer the promise of melting this grime away with little to no scrubbing. 

However, while these cleaners are efficient, they come at a cost. Often, that cost is the risk of introducing potent chemicals to a space where we cook food, damaging the interior of our oils and even risking our skin and respiratory system. 

So, how do you clean an oven without chemicals in a way that doesn't mean we have to scrub? Professional cleaners have all the answers.  

How to clean an oven without chemicals

There are several things you shouldn’t do with oven cleaner – and cleaning an oven is one of them, green cleaning experts appeal. If these strong chemicals require so much precaution, there has to be a safer way to remove grease. 

These are the four best green cleaning alternatives that still leave your oven sparkling. 

1. Start with soap and a soft abrasive

kitchen with cabinets, oven and stove

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If your oven doesn't have too much build-up, then soap and a soft sponge will often be enough to stay on top of grime before it becomes unmanageable, begins the cleaning experts at Thermador. ‘We do not recommend using oven cleaners because they can remain on the oven porcelain after being wiped off and can emit odors during cooking,’ they advise.

‘After the oven has cooled, use hot, soapy water and a nonabrasive sponge. Only use mild cleaners such as Soft Scrub, Bon-Ami, or Ajax. Rub lightly with a nonabrasive sponge and rinse thoroughly to remove any residue from the cleaners. Dry thoroughly with a soft cloth. 

‘If food has burned onto the oven and is difficult to remove, use a mild cleaner with an SOS or Brillo pad and rub gently. SOS and Brillo pads may scratch the porcelain. Then, wash the racks by hand with hot, soapy water. Please do NOT wash them in the dishwasher. Rinse and dry thoroughly. 

‘The door seals and oven door may need additional cleaning,’ they add. ‘Wipe them with warm, mild soapy water and dry thoroughly.’

2. Scrub with baking soda and vinegar

A glass bottle with a stainless steel funnel in the opening with a sliced lemon and teaspoon of baking soda around it

(Image credit: Ivan Bajic via Getty Images)

It should hardly be a surprise that your oven is one of many things you can clean with vinegar. Mixing vinegar and baking soda in equal parts to create a paste and scrubbing it onto grease spots with a sponge or cloth will help to break down tough deposits, says Angie Hicks, Co-Founder of Angi. Allow it to sit for 12 hours for the best results. 

If you need a little extra cleaning power, you can follow up with more vinegar and water, mixed together in equal parts again, before rinsing and drying off.  

3. Harness high-pressure steam

Dark grey kitchen with bank of ovens

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

If you want to melt away tough kitchen grease to minimize scrubbing but don’t want to rely on harsh chemicals, steam cleaning is the next best bet – especially when paired with cleaning with baking soda paste, says Erin Zanelli, professional cleaner and owner of Tranquil Home

‘As always, ensure your oven is cool and remove any removable parts like racks. Then, mix baking soda with water to form a thick paste. Spread this paste over the interior surfaces of your oven, avoiding the heating elements. Let it sit overnight. Baking soda and bon ami are mildly abrasive and will help loosen grease and grime. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spray it over the baking soda/bon ami paste in your oven. The reaction between vinegar and baking soda/bon ami will create a foaming action, helping to break down tough stains and grease.

‘Once the paste has been applied, use a high-pressure hand-held steam cleaner to steam clean the oven. Direct the steam onto the paste, focusing on areas with stubborn stains or grease buildup. The combination of steam and baking soda/bon ami will help to loosen and lift grime effectively.’

Finish by wiping away residue and drying before use. 

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4. Allow a slow steam to loosen grime

White kitchen, brick floor, rug

(Image credit: Madeline Harper Photography)

If you do not have a handheld steamer, you can still use steam to your advantage, assures James King, Operations Manager at DeluxeMaid. For this approach, he suggests adding an oven-proof tray of water to the bottom of your oven and heating it up gently (to around 250F) for 20 minutes to create steam. This will soften any grease and grim to make it easier to remove. For added cleaning power and to remove bad kitchen smells, you can add some cut-up lemons or lemon juice to this, too. 

Wait for your oven to cool enough to be comfortable to touch before cleaning it with soap and water or baking soda paste. 


Can you clean an oven with a dishwasher tablet? 

Dishwasher tablets are designed to break down tough grease and grime, making them a good choice for cleaning ovens without oven cleaners. To try this unusual oven cleaning hack, simply dampen the tablet and use it to scrub tough first spots, remembering to thoroughly rinse out the interior of your oven to prevent contaminating any food you cook in it afterward.  

Can you use The Pink Stuff to clean your oven?  

If you are looking for a commercial option to clean an oven but don't want to use harsh chemicals, The Pink Stuff is an excellent alternative. The slightly abrasive paste removes grease and burnt on food without damaging the interior of your oven or the glass door. Just remember to thoroughly rinse it away, ensuring that no product is left behind to prevent food contamination or bad odors when you next use the oven.  

These expert cleaning tips go to show that you don’t need the toughest chemicals to clean kitchen grease anywhere in your kitchen. More often than not, common pantry staples are enough to ensure you have a clean, hygienic kitchen without the need to spend hours scrubbing and cleaning.  

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.