Oven cleaning and maintenance

Self-cleaning or good old-fashioned elbow grease? We explain everything you need to know about keeping your oven clean.

What horrors lurk behind your oven door?

Baking up a big dinner for the whole gang was well worth the effort. You've got the dishwasher taking care of the dishes, and you can put your feet up – cleaning the oven can wait. But behind the dark, tightly closed oven door, it’s easy to forget about the baked-on stains from meat juices and oil – till you next open the door and remember!

If you have the time for regular cleaning and maintenance of your oven it'll save you a fair amount of elbow grease down the track, as opposed to letting the grease bake on time after time. The good news? Not only do you have a happy cleaning crew, you also now have the option to buy an oven that'll help you with the cleaning and maintenance.

Looking for the best oven? See our freestanding oven reviews. Or if flexibility with your kitchen layout is what you need, check out our wall oven reviews.

Self-cleaning ovens

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

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.

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.

Cleaning and maintenance tips for all 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.
  • Try to clean your oven regularly – you'll find 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 you're likely to get it dripping 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.

Ease of cleaning and maintenance forms part of the ease-of-use score in our ovens test, if you'd like more information on a particular model.

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