Keeping your oven clean – how do you cope with the grime?

by , Policy Adviser Energy & Home 13 February 2012
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From high-tech gels and foams to tried-and-tested home remedies, how do you make sure your oven stays spick and span? And how often is necessary to keep your oven in top condition?

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We’re gearing up to testing oven cleaners again. So we’re wondering how often you clean your ovens and if you have any top tips on what you use and find works well?

We’re also keen to hear about any home remedy tricks you use – such as soda crystals or bicarbonate of soda.

Oven cleaning confession time

The first ovens I ever came into real contact with (as in, I actually attempted, occasionally, to cook things in them) were when I was a student. I have to say it didn’t cross my mind that they should – or could – be cleaned.

Renting rooms in flats later on, it did start to dawn on me that the inside of the oven wasn’t improving over time.

Then it came to the first oven I owned. Our relationship blossomed after I discovered that what I’d dimly thought was the oven function was actually the grill. To be fair, the markings had long since rubbed off the dial.

Then it came to cleaning it. I honestly forget what product I used, but hours of chasing brown foam around the interior of its crusted cave of an interior didn’t seem to result in much improvement.

Grime and bear it

Nowadays, I’ve realised that prevention is far better than cure – so I try to stop food getting onto the oven in the first place. The oven’s not new enough to have a pyrolytic lining that can burn encrusted food off, so a bit of scrubbing and cajoling is still in order if I do spill something.

I hate the thought of chucking out things before they’re finished, so I’m still working through my ‘legacy’ oven cleaner, before promptly switching to a Which? Best Buy. Although now I think about the next clean, perhaps I should ditch the old one right now.

There must be better ways of doing this, and I feel sure you’ll know them. So please tell us what you use and how often you use it – you may influence what we end up testing.

16 comments

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wavechange

As Richard says, prevention is better than cure. If food does get spilt, do the cleaning promptly and it is not a difficult job to keep an oven in respectable condition for years without the need for any fancy cleaners.

I would like to see the sale aerosol cans containing sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) banned. If you get this on your skin it feels soapy because your skin is dissolving. Imagine what would happen if you get it in your eyes.

This is exactly what was revealed when we tested all-in-one cleaners back in 2009. Our advice for best results is to clean spills as soon as they happen. Having said that, it is a bit trickier to do this with an oven as you have to wait it to cool.

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Jjulieengland

Totally agree. The easiest way to clean your oven is to buy a kit from Lakeland which includes a large soaking tray, but don’t buy the gel it has a milder form of caustic in it. Also ovenkit do the same tray but have a non caustic liquid which works very well, a bit more elbow grease is needed, but worth it.

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richard

Keep my eyes closed!!

But seriously I use a micro-wave – which cooks faster – and doesn’t cake the inside – a quick wipe after use ensures constant cleanliness.

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andrew

pyrolytic linings are fine but there is still the door window and the inside of the door which is usually a pretty enamel and the shelves to take out and clean.
I heard someone suggest on the radio putting a bowl of hot water in after you took the roast out (if you always remember when serving a meal). This emulsifies the fat deposit so it is easier to clean. Maybe you could have it as a control method for your test.

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Laura

I clean my oven every month with liquid soda crystals. Because I do it so often (and it hardly takes any time) I don’t have to bother with the hardcore oven cleaners that you need a hazmat suit just to pick up. I soak the shelves and grill pan in a hot soda crystal solution overnight which makes them dead easy to clean with a scourer in the morning, spray the inside of the oven with the liquid soda crystals, wait an hour then clean up – dead easy.

I’m afraid that the easiest way I’ve ever found to keep a regularly used oven clean was the method I used when I lived in China. I employed a wonderful Ayi to clean my kitchen from top-to-bottom 3 times per week. Nothing ever got dirty and I had a lovely sparkly oven every day. Prevention is better than cure and regular cleaning gets better results than a once in a lifetime binge.
When I have to do it myself however I am more of a binge cleaner. I usually clean my microwave and normal oven by putting a bowl of hot water with a half a lemon in the oven and turning them on to produce loads of steam.
I had heard that steam cleaners are brilliant for shifting grime, so when I was gearing up for project managing a Which? test of hand-held steam cleaners I tried a hand-held one on the inside of my combination microwave – it’s 6 years old, is used for grilling and convection cooking nearly every day and I’m afraid is no longer sparkly and new looking on the inside. I also tried it on my conventional oven.
The steam cleaner did a good job of loosening grease, but didn’t make it any easier to wipe it away or get a sparkling finish. It was absolutely useless at shifting any baked on grime – I spent at least half an hour directing steam into the microwave until it was completely soggy and really scrubbing it, but it didn’t shift the really long-standing hard-core deposits.
We found the same problem when we sent them to the lab and tried cleaning ovens which had been treated with baked on grime according to the British Standard. None of the steam cleaners could shift it, but our previous Best Buy Lakeland Oven Mate did.
I might go and buy some of that and see if it makes my microwave all sparkly again…

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wavechange

Victoria wrote: I employed a wonderful Ayi to clean my kitchen from top-to-bottom 3 times per week

It’s all right for some. I’m surprised that your cook did not take care of this. :-)

I have to say I hate cleaning our oven, it’s one of my least favourite chores (up there with cleaning the toilet!(. The last time I did it I used soapy water, but it was a bit too dirty for that to be really effective, so I used some Mr Muscle spray and it did a good enough job, but I wasn’t keen on the smell.

It needs doing again, so I might try some of the suggestions on here before resorting to the harsher chemical products this time. I’m also tempted to buy some of those magic oven liners.. :-)

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Simone

I very rarely clean my oven, so when I am tempted to have a go it’s a grim task. I’ve always just used Mr Muscle, with lots of elbow grease and swearing at the lies on the can (the baked on grease certainly does NOT “just wipe away”). My most recent attempt took 3 applications of said lying spray, which used up 1.5 cans (for some reason we had 3 of them, I’m obviously full of good intentions!). My oven is much cleaner than it was, but hardly sparkling. :(

Of all the suggestions on here, I like the sound of Victoria’s Ayi the best. Can I get one in Morrisons??? :)

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David

I use Oven Pride on my freestanding cooker ovens and layers of newspaper on the kitchen floor below the ovens to avoid damage to the flooring. Oven Pride is a thick liquid that’s easy to use, comes with the gloves and it just works, without the gagging odours. The instructions say to only put 2 of the oven shelves in the big clear bag (supplied), but I always put in 3 (i.e. 2 from the main oven and the other shelf from the top oven/grill). Seal the bag tight and turn the bag a few times to evenly coat the oven shelves with the liquid. Leave the liquid cleaner to soak overnight on the shelves and in the oven and wipe it away in the morning, being sure to rinse off all the chemical residue.

As for the door, read your oven/cooker instruction book and DON’T put Oven Pride on the door glass! My instructions say to use a FINE steel-wool soap-filled pad to avoid scratching the glass, or you could use a plastic scourer for the glass and a steel-wool pad for the enamel areas. Once you have removed the chemical residues, use a metal scraper to quickly chip-off any burned on residues which refuse to budge on the enamel, at the bottom of the oven.

The sides of most ovens are self-cleaning at 220C or above. I follow this cleaning method every time the top and bottom ovens need a good clean and it requires little effort. The Oven Pride does the hard work of liquefying the stubborn brown and black dirt. :)

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Ann

The Oven Pride bag is fantastic on shelves, side rails and the oven floor but not on the roof or the side walls! Can anybody suggest something that wont drip off/run down and clean my oven roof and side walls this oven is in almost daily use
Ann

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Bob

I’ve only cleaned my oven once before the old fashioned chemical caustic spray and elbow grease way and will never use chemicals of any such again. When I used the oven after hours of such cleaning for the next few weeks all my food tasted of tainted chemicals, seems a pointless waste of time getting it “sparkling clean” and free of “germs” when you’re going to contaminate you’re food with chemicals used to clean it as a trade off.
I now only keep the oven clean to the point where there’s no ash particulates or food matter lying around so that it doesn’t smoke, and as a result the oven cooking of food being contaminated with smoke from my observation has no difference from whether it was clean or not. So cleaning it to a point where it’s sparkling clean seems pointless and obsessive to me. I justify that the oven is hot enough to kill any germs, just as i would if cooking over a fire camping or using a hot bbq surface which has been stored away for a season.

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Sue

Bicarbonate of soda, made into a paste ths consistency of cream and painted all over the inside of a CLEAN oven, will prevent food sticking. Every so often wash out your oven then re-apply paste. It will never be hard to clean. I have done ths so I know it is true. The bicarb will do no harm to anything you put in the oven to cook.

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lisa walker

Thanks, really enjoyed this post. Always interesting to hear about different cleaning methods :) If I may I’d like to suggest a couple of professional cleaning companies that I found were great, especially for people who want natural cleaning products used or if they’re not able-bodied, for instance. They are oven cleaning sutton coldfield and oven cleaning kent. Thanks again, keep the posts coming :)

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Jackie James

Although we have a vested interest!!! and are a Which Trusted Trader, if you do clean your own oven, do not use chemicals or Mr Muscle type sprays. They do damage the enamel and the surfaces of the oven as well as making you feel pretty nauseous and will also cause the oven to smoke and smell after use. The best non chemical paste is made by Astonish and they do a general and an oven version. Both are really good for removing most of the dirt, it just requires time and some elbow grease! Or try an Approved Oven Cleaner [URL removed]

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