/ Home & Energy

What are your tips for cleaning baking trays and ovens?

Do you have any tried and tested methods for getting your baking trays and oven to sparkle again? Let us know how you do it.

You might have noticed over the Easter bank holiday that your baking trays (and possibly oven itself) are in need of a bit of maintenance.

Inspired by a recent Which? video about the classic old bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar method, I’m wondering whether the technique works for you, and if you’ve got any of your own tips to share.

I’ve tried the same method out on a few of my older baking trays and been surprised at how effective it’s been. Our tips are:

⭐ Don’t use an abrasive scourer on a glass door as it can cause tiny scratches – which could leave the glass vulnerable to shattering.

Leave the oven racks to soak in warm water whilst cleaning the oven

You can use a scourer on the tough stains inside the oven

Once applied, leave the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar paste to work for a few hours

The video (and the results I got!) have got me cleaning more of the oven myself (and reviving a few baking trays I thought may be on the way out). But does this method work for you?

What are your tips for cleaning the oven? Share your wisdom with us!

Comments

If applying a caustic oven cleaner paste or gel, use a mini paint roller to get an even coating. Don’t use risk using a foam roller; the chemicals may cause it to “melt”.

Top tip for a sparkling clean oven in 3 hours:

Turn dial to Pyrolytic cleaning. Press OK. Do something more interesting.

When oven is cool, wipe off any small specks of “fag ash” remaining.

I’ve no doubt that pyrolytic cleaning works well, but I would be interested in whether periodic use significantly reduces the lifetime of heating elements. With electricity prices rising I would also be interested in the typical cost of running a cleaning cycle.

On the other hand, pyrolytic cleaning might be a safer alternative to using aggressive cleaning materials. In our safety conscious world, I wonder why aerosol-type sprays containing sodium hydroxide (“caustic soda”) are sold as oven cleaners. Caustic soda attacks the skin and could cause serious damage to the eyes, yet can be found on supermarket shelves.

Common sense says “clean the oven and its racks and trays regularly before they get too dirty.” Real life says “I’ll do it tomorrow.” I have a product made from French clay deposits that doesn’t seem to scratch and does seem to work on oven grime, especially on the glass. This is available from one of the TV shopping channels at around £20 for three tubs. These will last quite some time and have no shelf life. No product I know will give you an instant application and then wipe clean in seconds. All require some rubbing with a cloth or a mild abrasive scrubber. There are no miracle cleaners out there. The French product comes with its own sponge and that works well given time and some effort. I use it on all hard surfaces and will buy it again when I need some more.
Ps. Don’t let the daft product name put you off -or the hype that surrounds it. Surprisingly, It actually works much as they claim.

I don’t know about reducing the life of heating elements. I would hope that is taken into account in the design of the oven. The elements don’t need to get as hot a grill to reach the magic temperature of 450 degrees C. It also seems to be well-insulated; I must be saving money somewhere.

I tend to let my oven get filthy, knowing it won’t be any harder to clean, so the wear and tear on the elements is minimal compared to normal regular usage. Even at 30p/kWh, you can buy a lot of electricity for the price of some proprietary oven cleaner and a pair of rubber gloves. I plan to clean my oven in the summer when the PV panels are installed, so that will be less of an issue…

The big problem is that Pyrolytic ovens tend to be expensive to purchase, and no one is going to dispose of a functioning oven, just to get the self-cleaning facility. But keep it in mind for next time. I’m glad I did.

I’ve not heard of oven elements failing prematurely in pyrolytic ovens, Em, but 450°C is a much higher temperature than a normal oven will reach.

Look after your baking tins to make them last longer.

To stop tins damaging each other, I used to separate them with kitchen roll then one day I saw actual separators in IKEA. They are washable and can be cut to size although I have left them as they arrived.

I also discovered washable cooking liners that can be cut to size. They are good for cooking anything that might stick but they also make flaking tins usable for longer.

I do not enjoy cleaning ovens but it’s much easier if the job is done regularly.

I line roasting trays with aluminium foil, which keeps the base and sides clean. If there is a possibility that something could overflow during baking, I place a tray on the shelf below or on the base of the oven.

I keep telling myself that it is much better if jobs are done regularly – weeding the garden, cutting hedges and grass, washing the car, cleaning the windows…….. Trouble is, there are more pressing things to do, like enjoying yourself. So for a couple of years now I have a lady who cleans for me every 2 weeks, so I have a dust free, clean bathrooms, vacuumed carpets tidy kitchen abode for me and visitors. Maybe she will clean my oven……

Crusader says:
18 April 2022

Never mind baking trays, how about grill pans? I have a white vitreous enamelled grill pan which has a right load of mess burnt onto it which I’ve been struggling to remove, any ideas anyone? Preferably without using any dreadful abrasive methods.

I’ve used a hob scraper with a retractable blade to successfully clean a glass hob, oven glass and baking trays.

Crusader says:
21 April 2022

I’ve heard somewhere that filling a grill pan with boiling neat tea should remove burnt on stains, has anyone here ever tried such an idea and know if it works?

That’s an interesting suggestion Crusader and one I have not encountered before, but I am always willing to experiment with ideas and will be happy to give it a try and report back on its effectiveness.

It might be worth comparing with hot water and a little detergent, such as washing-up liquid. This usually does the trick if something sticks to the base of a pan. I cannot see how tea would help but there is no harm in trying.

Thanks Wavechange. Apparently it’s the tannins in tea which remove baked on grime, but as you suggested I will do a comparison with traditional detergent.

Great. I am always keen to see some home research results here on Conversation.

Having cooked some roast potatoes last night, I decided to try the ‘tea bag’ method and found its effectiveness quite inadequate and no better than soaking the tray in hot water.

A supermarket own brand tea bag was used (not decaffeinated), along with hot water and the tea bag was left in the baking tray for 30 minutes. When I returned it had failed to lift off any stubborn food deposits or remove any stains. In short, it was useless.

Soaking the tray in hot water and traditional detergent seems to work best for me.

@Wingman – did you use magnetically-descaled water and wear a tin foil hat during the process?

Or did you forget to add the bicarb and vinegar? I’m never too sure why fans of this tabloid “hack” think it better to mix the two, since that just neutralizes the active ingredients in each and leaves more water, unless the sodium acetate byproduct of the reaction has some special cleaning property unknown to science.

But I think you are being a little disparaging about the cleansing benefits of tea bags. They are great for dissolving the stains in chocolate teapots. Just add hot water. Better still, make a cup of tea in a china mug and drink it whilst working away at those pans.

But is not lost. If you put the tinfoil in a glass bowl and add some soda crystals, it is great for cleaning tarnished silver (really!)

Hi Em, I avoided the tin foil hat and opted for a hazmat suit, respirator, goggles, rubber boots and gloves instead.

I decided to follow the hack as shown online, using a tea bag only, simply to discover whether tea alone would be effective, but as indicated from my experience it offered no real cleaning benefits.

As you suggested, perhaps having a cuppa at hand to avoid dehydration while scrubbing the pans would have been more effective.

I believe it is instructive to prove to yourself that some popular advice can be worthless.

We had a Conversation about reusing sachets of silica gel. Silica gel can be useful if reactivated by heating and used in an enclosed space, but it will do nothing if placed on a windowsill, even though this is commonly suggested.

Brasso is effective at cleaning the inner door glass on ovens. If done promptly after use it does not take long to clean the glass.

I am wary about using anything more abrasive on oven doors because this can cause scratching, which could weaken the glass.

Sheila says:
22 April 2022

I put my oven shelves to soak in a bath with a couple of scoops of soap powder. It works incredibly well, only very small areas needed an additional scrub. I guess you could also put baking trays in too but I haven’t tried that

Brian Cooke says:
23 April 2022

Meths is brilliant for cleaning the inside of glass doors.

John says:
23 April 2022

You shouldn’t use abrasive cleaners like Cif on the inside glass door but surprisingly I read that the best way to clean stubborn baked on grease marks was to use a razor sharp blade such as a Stanley knife blade as a scrapper, I found it very effective on my oven door, just need to keep the angle quite low to the glass and be careful.

Before it was renamed, Cif was ‘Jif non-scratch scouring cream’. It would have been more honest to call it ‘Non-scour scratching cream’ because it is abrasive and, as you say, should not be used to clean oven doors. I found this old ad with ‘non-scratch’ shown on the bottle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ncxy31VHWQ

Keeping a scraper blade at a shallow angle does help avoid scratching the glass, but it’s best to have a blade with radiused (rounded) corners.

Musedave says:
24 April 2022

I always wipe the glass of my oven with a piece of kitchen towel as soon as I’ve finished cooking and whilst it’s still hot. The glass stays clean in-between my twice a year professional clean, which restores my oven to it’s perfect original as-new cleanliness.

Cerium Oxide paste is good for a final, occasional polish of oven glass. Also works for fine scratches on glass halogen or induction hobs. It really needs to be applied by machine with a felt pad polisher as it is hard work doing it by hand.

By polishing out all the tiny scratches that have built up previously, it gives an ultra smooth finish and makes the glass easier to keep clean in future.

It is also a good way to finish neglected glass shower screens that have a build up of limescale residue that cannot be fully removed by chemical means, e.g. with hagesan blue or citric acid.

Crusader says:
26 April 2022

I’ve tried the boiling tea idea on my grill pan, and surprise, surprise, it doesn’t work. I even tried it with four tea bags and left it to soak for absolutely hours, but it’s no good, it doesn’t even begin to work. But surely there must be something out there which will get it clean without having to scratch it all over and ruin it. And of course if it did get scratched it would be even harder to clean it in future as the scratches would provide a key to make even more stains stick on it even stronger, just like what happens when you abrade a surface before gluing it to something. And I’ve seen a spray which apparently cleans grill pans but it says it can damage chrome, and my grill pan has chrome parts but it’s easy enough to undo the screws and remove them while I try the spray on the pan, I’ll just have to be careful not to lose the screws as they’ll be special types not so easily replaceable.

I suggest placing a aluminium foil on the base of the grill pan, Crusader. The wire grid will still need to be cleaned but I find that easy if it is done after each use.

In some cases, food can be grilled on the foil but this can stick or it may not cook so well.

Tableau Carbon Remover (Robert Dyas, Amazon, etc.) is a gel paste that I’ve used successfully on vitreous enamel to remove burnt on grease and sugar. It would probably work well on grill pans.

It’s pretty vicious stuff, so wear rubber gloves, eye protection and cover any counter tops with newspaper. Paint on to the affected areas with the brush and leave for a few hours. Repeat if necessary.