Stovetop and Oven Cleaning Without the Toxic Chemicals

Oven cleaning is hands down the most dreaded kitchen clean up chore. It’s enough to make you want to stop using your oven altogether. Find out how to make friends with your oven.

oven cleaningThe inside of your oven is coated with enamel. When casserole dishes bubble over and cheese drips off the sides of your pizza the resulting mess gets literally baked onto the enamel. The greasier the mess, the worse the resulting impossible-to-get-off grunge will be.

The stove top, on the other hand, doesn’t have to be as difficult as the oven to clean, unless you never ever clean the grates or knobs. You’re still dealing with cooked on food like the oven that takes some time and effort to clean. Unsealed stove tops let crumbs and drips enter your stove and fall to the floor underneath your stove. If you are a clean freak you could never put up with this!

TIP  Get a sealed stove top to prevent that. And if you don’t mind cooking on electric heat get an induction glass stove top. As the owner of a green housecleaning service I can tell you this is a dream come true for us when a client has an induction cook top in their kitchen. Soooo easy to clean!

Oven Cleaning

First of all, as always, cleaning up spills as soon as possible after the oven cools is key to keeping your oven clean and prevents you from having to scrub the shitake out of it. And don’t you hate the way the oven smokes and smells the next time you turn it on, if you haven’t cleaned out the gooey cheesy globs first. The whole house or apartment smells terrible and it can ruin your appetite!

Try to include wiping out your oven in your regular evening or next morning kitchen clean up. It’s even easier if you can get the spills up while the oven is still warm. This option may not always be convenient especially if you throw a lot of dinner parties, but try, it will be worth it!

Use a damp cloth and a putty knife or old credit card to help you lift off spills and globs. Or simply wipe up the liquid spill with your damp cloth. Don’t use soap or detergent at this point you don’t need it. Please try to institute this every use oven wiping up so you don’t have to go through the intensive oven cleaning that I am going to describe in a few more paragraphs.

Here are some good ideas for preventing oven grime courtesy of Ellen Sandbeck in her book Green Housekeeping,

  • “Put a baking pan underneath pies, sweet potatoes, casseroles, and other food that might spill or bubble.
  • Put a sheet of aluminum foil on your oven floor. Do not let it touch heating elements or cover the vents. When the foil gets dirty, take it out and replace it.
  • If something bubbles over in the oven, sprinkle salt on the spill to make it easier to clean up. As soon as the oven is cool enough, wipe up the spills and spatters . . .
  • Wipe grease off the oven interior with a cloth dampened in vinegar and water . . . “

And from Donna Smallin Cleaning Plain and Simple,

“Pour vinegar directly on the residue and cover it with a damp towel until is has softened and can be removed easily.”

Okay, hopefully you are going to try and clean your oven as you go. If you have a really dirty, greasy stove and oven, it could make sense to hire someone to clean them for you. I’m not an advocate of dangerous oven and stovetop cleaners because most of them contain sodium hydroxide, which is very corrosive (and why it works sa’ good). That same corrosive quality can dissolve your skin; your eyes and the mist from aerosols can damage your lungs. Sodium hydroxide can potentially explode if mixed with other chemicals.

How is Sodium Hydroxie an appropriate chemical to keep in your home? Answer- it’s not!

I’m not a total purist so take this advice only if you are not dogmatic about your green lifestyle. Instead of doing all of this backbreaking, muscle fatiguing work yourself, let a pro come in and do the nasty chemical (or green) cleaning for you. Make sure they wear proper safety equipment (solvent mask, eye shields, and long rubber gloves), ventilate while they work, and clean up the floor and surroundings completely when they are finished.

Now try and keep it clean so you don’t have to do that again. Heavy-duty corrosive chemicals are dangerous for your body but they also harm the earth (there is no way to really truly properly dispose of these chemicals) and the atmosphere (hydrocarbons used in aerosol spray products are proven to reduce the ozone layer of our atmosphere).


Every expert I consulted gives the same basic advice about how to clean ovens without commercial oven cleaners. To start they all pointed out that self-cleaning ovens are by far the way to go if you are in the market to buy a new oven. You will be so happy that you did. Although the high temperatures used in the cleaning process can be a little nerve racking for some people, if used properly a self-cleaning oven is the greenest and easiest method. But you still must follow some rules about that:

  1. To minimize smoke production during the cleaning cycle, make sure you wipe up spills like we talked about above.
  2. Best time to use the self-cleaning cycle is when there is a thin film of grime on the interior walls
  3. Remove oven racks because the high heat can damage the finish. Wash them in the sink with soap and water.
  4. Remove the broiler pan and wash it separately.
  5. Scrape off and sweep up as much goop as you can from the oven walls and floor. Use a nylon scrubber brush so you don’t scratch the enamel finish.
  6. After oven has cooled, wipe out the resulting ashy film.
  7. Never use commercial oven cleaning products on your self-cleaning oven since they can ruin that particular finish.
  8. Don’t run your self-cleaning oven cycle on hot summer days.
  9. Make sure you are home and not asleep for safety’s sake.

Cleaning the Oven by Hand – For light to medium size messes

I’m not even going to describe what has been advised for super grungy oven cleaning since it involves using ammonia and is very involved. I’m going to assume that you’ll take my advice and hire someone to clean your oven if it is that awfully dirty.

Wear your old clothes because you will get dirty. Make sure you have good, long rubber gloves. I’ll describe two slightly different green methods for cleaning the oven, oven racks and broiler pan. First one is by Donna Smallin.

  • Spray the oven floor with water. Sprinkle the equivalent of one box of baking soda over the wet surface. Spray again with water. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight. Spray with water occasionally if you leave it on for hours. Then wipe up with a clean damp sponge or cloth.
  • Make a paste of baking soda and water and use it and a nylon scrubber pad to scrub the sides and top of the oven.

I’m not sure that this method will work on anything but a barely dirty oven to tell you the truth. Check out Ellen Sandbecks more intensive method. I’m already tired just reading how to do this . . .

Since I can’t find any advice about how to clean oven racks with totally non-toxic substances, let me share Ellen’s’ method for cleaning the racks. That is to remove the racks from the oven and place them into large plastic garbage bags along with a bowl of ammonia. Tie up the bag and let sit for hours. After that they should be easy to scrub clean in the sink with soap and water. But how to actually do this without spilling the ammonia and making a huge mess is beyond me. I wouldn’t attempt this if you live in an apartment.

If anyone can share a truly green method for cleaning oven racks, please let me know and comment on my post, or better yet email me directly.

Ellen’s oven cleaning homemade recipes – use one or the other

 “a. Mix 2 tablespoons dish liquid, 2 teaspoons borax, and 1 quart of warm water. Sponge the mixture over the interior oven surfaces. Let sit for 20 minutes and then scrub with a nylon or plastic scrubber pad and Bon Ami cleanser.

     b. Pour 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap or Murphy Oil Soap and 2 tablespoons of borax into a pint size spray bottle. Add hot water and shake well. Spray over the oven surfaces and let sit for 20 minutes. Scrub with scrubbing pad”.

Use a metal spatula if necessary. Feel free to use paper towels for this and/or any old rags you have, don’t skimp. When you’ve scrubbed as much as you can, rinse off surfaces with a wet, soapy cloth or sponge. I think this method will work on the racks and broiler pan as well.

Oven Cleaning – Now to the Range and Stovetop

How to Clean Gas Stovetops

Preventative measures are to always wipe up your spills after each cooking session. Period. If you can’t manage that (and I can’t manage this!) then follow these directions.

Place grates and knobs in the sink and begin soaking with soap and warm water.

Spray your stove exterior with your Acidic All Purpose Cleaner. Using a dampened cellulose sponge or microfiber cloth and wipe up the surfaces. Use a nylon or plastic scrubber pad to loosen hardened gobs. Soak those first by covering with a wet cloth for 10 minutes before attempting to remove. After the enamel, glass, and plastic surfaces are clean, polish with a lint free cotton or microfiber polishing cloth. Sparkling!

For black enamel ranges, the polishing cloth is the only way to get up the smudges and fingerprints. You could skip the polishing step with a white colored range, but not with a black colored range.

Drain your sink and spray the cook top grates and knobs with your Acidic All Purpose Cleaner and clean. Dry and polish the knobs and replace. Replace the grates. You are done.

Electric Ranges and Stove tops

You can follow the same instructions as above, but you have to take more time to clean electric burners, saucers and drip pans. Electric burners can smell awful as soon as any food debris sit in the saucer, so part of your everyday cleaning of your stove and oven would be to clean out the saucers under the electrical elements.

Remove the saucers and clean the drip pan underneath. If there is a tray that pulls out, clean that regularly to ensure clean, odor free cooking. Regularly wipe off your electric coils.

Enamel Glass Induction Stove top

Cleaning a glass stove top is as simple as cleaning any glass surface. First remove any loose debris or cooked on gook with a sponge or cloth and a nylon or plastic scrubber pad. After debris are gone, clean the glass stove top with club soda and a glass cleaning microfiber cloth or polishing cloth. If the glass stove top is very greasy use the Acidic All Purpose Cleaner.  Polish like you would glass with a polishing cloth.

Oven Cleaning with Steam!

Another great reason to own a steam-cleaning machine is that it can help you keep your oven and stove top really clean without any real effort. If I had a big kitchen I would invest in a steam-cleaning machine. Follow the instructions for your handheld steaming machine. Steam cleaning machines can be a super investment for cleaning your home!

Microwave Ovens

TIP fill a microwavable cup ¾ the way with water and place in your microwave oven. Set your oven boil that water. This is steam cleaning at its simplest! Open up the microwave and simply wipe out the gunk!

All the best with your oven cleaning haha (and hope to heck you get it over with as quick as possible so you get on with the more fun things in life).

Welcome to my website!

Julia has been practicing green cleaning for several years as the owner of As You Like It Home Cleaning and organic gardening for almost 20 years running Julia Houriet Custom Gardening. She studied landscape design at Radcliffe Seminars in Cambridge Massachusetts. Her expertise is gleaned from education and years of experience.

More from Blog Roll
Return to Beginning