Ovens can get pretty gross over time, and cleaning one can be a difficult job. Food can splatter and spill, then bake on to form a layer of grease, oil, and grime. You can find a variety of harsh oven cleaning sprays that help clean away this dirty residue, but many contain concerning chemicals that can cause skin burns, respiratory issues, and eye damage. Thankfully, there are some effective homemade cleaning products and all-purpose sprays that can have your oven looking like new again.
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Concerning Chemicals in Oven Cleaners
Numerous harmful chemicals may lurk in commercial oven cleaners. Here are some of the common ingredients of concern that received an F rating from the Environmental Working Group (EWG):
- Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, is caustic soda found in many cleaning products. It is highly corrosive and can damage the eyes, skin, and respiratory system.
- Butoxydiglycol can impact lung function and cause serious eye irritation.
- Ethanolamine can cause severe skin burns and eye damage and can be harmful if inhaled.
How To Find Safer Oven Cleaning Products
Using safer oven cleaning products and sprays can help keep harmful chemicals out of your home and away from children and pets.
Read Cleaning Product Labels
Although it can be difficult to decipher which ingredients are safe without studying up, there are some easy ways to spot unsafe oven cleaners. Look for warnings and precautions on the product label. Beware of phrases like “danger,” “poison,” “corrosive,” or “hazardous,” as they can indicate the presence of toxic chemicals.
Third-Party Information on Oven Cleaners
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates oven cleaning products and sprays to help shoppers find safer options to use in their home. Unfortunately, all of the oven cleaners in the EWG database received a score of D or F. Some of the oven cleaning sprays with an F rating include Easy-Off Fume Free Oven Cleaner, Walmart Great Value Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner, and Simply Done Oven & Grill Cleaner.
One safer option is to sidestep commercial oven cleaners and use an environmentally friendly all-purpose cleaner. There are numerous nontoxic products on the market made with safe ingredients.
EWG’s Highest-Rated All-Purpose Cleaners
The following products received an A rating from the EWG.
- 9 Elements Multi-Purpose Cleaner, Eucalyptus Scent
- ATTITUDE Nature + All-Purpose Kitchen Cleaner, Citrus Zest (EWG-verified)
- ATTITUDE Multi-Purpose Cleaner, Orange and Sage (EWG-verified)
- Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
- Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar, Bright Lemon
- Bon Ami Powder Cleanser
- ECOS Cream Cleanser, Lemon
- Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner, Lemongrass Citrus
Self-Cleaning Oven Feature
Most ovens have a feature that locks the door and gets the inside of the oven spotless, without much scrubbing or using chemicals. It does this by running a very long and hot cycle that turns spilled food and oil into ash that you can easily wipe away.
However, running the self-cleaning feature uses a lot of energy and can make your home smoky. Some experts advise against it because it can potentially damage the oven itself. But if you do run this cycle, ensure you properly ventilate your home. It’s best to use the self-cleaning cycle when you can leave the windows open for several hours. Read your owner’s manual first. It may recommend that children and pets stay away from the oven while self-cleaning because it presents a burn hazard.
Homemade Oven Cleaner
One of the best ways to ensure you are using safe and natural products is to make your own cleaners with nontoxic ingredients. An easy recipe using baking soda and vinegar gets the job done, is safe for pets and children, and does not create indoor air pollution. Also, DIY cleaners are usually more economical than using commercial products, and they can reduce packaging waste.
Baking Soda & Vinegar
One of the simplest ways to clean your oven is with just baking soda and vinegar. Here are the steps.
- Remove the baking racks and wash them with dish soap.
- Use a metal spatula to remove any loose pieces of food debris.
- Evenly sprinkle about a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the oven.
- Use a spray bottle to apply vinegar to the bottom of the oven.
- Let stand for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Scrub in a circular motion.
- Remove the cleaning mixture by using a damp sponge and rinsing it several times as needed.
- Mix baking soda and water to create a paste for the door and let it stand for 10 to 20 minutes. Then, wipe it off with a cloth, rinsing the cloth as needed.
Choose Safer Oven Cleaners
Although there are numerous commercial oven cleaning products available, many of them contain concerning chemicals and are harmful to the environment. Simply using an all-purpose cleaner to wipe out the oven as needed helps prevent grime from building up. Every three to six months, use baking soda and vinegar to scrub away grease and spilled food. Following these simple steps ensures you have a clean oven without harmful cleaners.