How to clean your oven

Self-cleaning or good old-fashioned elbow grease? A guide to keeping your oven clean.

How to clean your oven

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your oven – as opposed to letting the grease bake on time after time – will save you a fair amount of elbow grease down the track. 

The good news? Some ovens will even clean themselves! 

Read on to find out how to clean and maintain your oven.

In this article:

Fisher & Paykel, Miele, Omega, Smeg and more

See our full review

Oven reviews

Cleaning tips for all types of ovens

  • Soak metal runners and shelves in warm water with either a dishwasher detergent or washing powder.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the ash after a pyrolytic clean, then wipe the walls of the oven with warm, soapy water.
  • Clean your oven regularly – it won't take as much effort as it would if you were to leave mess baking on for a while.
  • If you're using an oven cleaner, spray all the surfaces and leave the roof till last – if you spray the roof first it's likely to drip onto your arms.
  • If you want to do away with the chemicals used in an oven cleaner, use bi-carb soda and vinegar. The bi-carb removes stains while the vinegar cuts through grease.
  • When you're cleaning the stainless-steel exterior, clean small sections at a time to prevent streaking. There are different ways to clean stainless steel. Try:
    • hot water and a microfibre cloth
    • vinegar and a paper towel
    • methylated spirits and a paper towel
    • citrus-based all-purpose cleaner and a microfibre cloth.

Oven cleaners

If you don't clean and maintain your oven regularly you'll need a lot of time and elbow grease, or a specially formulated oven cleaner.

Like other household chemical products, oven cleaners are dangerous – if you get them on your skin or in your eyes it can cause severe irritation, deep burns or even blindness. They need to be handled with care.

  • Have the kitchen well ventilated when using an oven cleaner to avoid breathing in any fumes.
  • Follow the instructions – if it says to wear a face mask or safety glasses then do it!
  • Wear a long-sleeve top and gloves to prevent your skin coming into contact with the cleaner.

How do self-cleaning ovens work?

The two main options at your disposal in this category are pyrolytic and catalytic.

Pyrolytic ovens

An oven that cleans itself – what a dream! The big plus for pyrolytic ovens is that the cleaning process is chemical-free and does a great, thorough job on your oven, particularly in hard-to-reach places.

They're generally more expensive, but if you bake a lot and tend to have lots of meat juice and fat splattering around, who wouldn't consider buying an oven that can clean itself afterwards?

How it works:

  • The oven heats up to about 500°C – converting food residues into ash, which you wipe away.
  • The oven door automatically locks and is only released when the temperature falls to a safe level.
  • The outside of the oven gets hotter than usual – so it's a good idea to keep kids out of the kitchen.

Unfortunately not all the hard work is done for you:

  • Before using the pyrolytic function generally all runners, shelves and other accessories need to be removed and cleaned separately – which can be fiddly and might still take some elbow grease.
  • It's worth cleaning off any big pieces of dirt beforehand, and giving the internal side of the glass door a wipe.

Catalytic liners

This one works by absorbing fat splatters. It's important that there's good coverage of disposable liners over the oven – both sides, back and roof is ideal.

To put the liners to action:

  • You need to regularly heat the oven to 250°C for an hour to burn off any splatters.
  • Once the oven is cool, wipe them with a damp cloth.

These liners should last a long time, but you might eventually need to replace them at an additional cost.

If you're looking for an oven that has a pyrolytic function or self-cleaning liners, you'll find these as a criteria in our freestanding oven reviews and our wall oven reviews.

Steam cleaning

Ovens with a steam cleaning function use steam to soften the grease and grime, making cleaning the oven easier.

Each of the steam ovens we tested offer this function. 

  • Fill the baking tray with water
  • During the cleaning cycle it will loosen baked-on food and grease
  • Once it's finished wipe the oven clean with a soapy cloth

Removing stubborn grease marks even after the steam-cleaning cycle can be difficult and may still require an oven cleaning product or mixture for a thorough clean.

Thinking of upgrading? Our oven buying guide explains your options.