can you clean an oven with bleach

How to Clean Tough Oven Stains

Need to remove oven stains? From tips on getting gunk off of racks to the best oven cleaner, you'll never need to use the self-clean feature again. 

Written by Tenley Haraldson. Reviewed by Sean Busch.

From overflows to spatters, a messy oven is part of cooking. Unfortunately, you can't close the door and ignore the issue. Not only are baked-on stains, grease, and crumbs potential fire hazards, but they might even change the flavor of your food!

Instead of removing oven stains with bleach or using the self-clean feature, our easy oven cleaning tips use natural products to get the job done.

Can You Clean an Oven with Bleach?

can you clean oven with bleach

Cleaning ovens with bleach isn't as effective as many people think. Firstly, it's typically used for disinfecting surfaces and lightening stains (not removing baked-on food and grease). Secondly, it's definitely not a food-safe substance!

Note: Bleach exposure can cause irritation of the eyes, throat, and skin. Mixing bleach with certain cleaning chemicals also presents certain risks. 

What About Using a Traditional Oven Surface Cleaner?

While it may seem convenient to use a commercial product, most well-known oven surface cleaners lift stains with strong corrosive alkalis that have been linked to:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Burning in the eyes, nose, lips, or tongue
  • Abdominal pain and/or vomiting
  • Organ damage
  • Topical burns

Avoid the Self-Cleaning Feature, Too

For various reasons, we don't recommend self-cleaning an oven either:

  • Fumes from heating baked-on food at extremely high temperatures can waft through your home, posing possible risk to humans and pets.
  • Smoke can set off fire alarms. You’ll probably need to open your windows and/or leave your hood range on for hours.
  • Odors can linger in your carpets and upholstery for days.
  • High temps can damage electronic heating elements, resulting in costly repairs and inaccurate baking temperatures.

How to Clean Tough Oven Stains

1. Gather Your Supplies

To thoroughly clean an oven without traditional oven cleaners, you'll need:

2. Remove and Clean Oven Racks Naturally

clean oven racks naturally

With their baked-on stains, it stands to reason that oven racks require some soaking. Remove racks from the oven and lay them out on a few old towels or cleaning rags. 

For Mild Stains

Apply a paste made of 3:1 baking soda to warm water. Apply with a small spatula and let it sit for at least an hour. Using an old toothbrush, gently scrub caked-on food and grease away. Wipe clean with a wet cloth before drying. 

For Tough Stains

Place an old towel on the bottom of your plugged bathtub. Sprinkle oven racks generously with baking soda and pour vinegar over them. When the bubbling stops, cover racks with hot water and let them soak overnight.

In the morning, scrub with a scouring pad, rinse with fresh water, and dry with a clean cloth. Be sure to clean your bathtub afterwards, too!

3. Wipe Down the Interior

how to clean my oven

Use the attachment on your vacuum to suck up crumbs at the bottom of your oven. Otherwise, use a damp cloth to pick up the loose bits.

4. Treat Tough Oven Stains

Want to clean an oven without oven cleaners? The following options help remove those black, baked-on stains – without caustic chemicals or the self-clean feature.

Use Baking Soda

clean oven naturally
  1. Make a baking soda paste of 3:1 baking soda to water. It's possible you'll need to adjust this formula until you get a spreadable paste.
  2. Put on gloves and spread the paste across the inside of your oven (including the glass door). Avoid the heating elements on your electric oven and the gas opening in gas ovens. 
  3. Close the oven and let the paste set overnight. For extra stain-fighting power, you can lightly spray the paste with white vinegar.
  4. Using wet rags, wipe away all of the dried paste and dry surfaces before replacing racks.

Note: Because baking soda can scratch some surfaces, check your manufacturer’s instructions before attempting this method. 

Clean Your Oven with Lemons

clean oven with lemons
  1. Heat your oven to 250ºF (121ºC).
  2. Cut two lemons in half and place them in an oven-safe tray filled with water.
  3. Place the tray on an oven rack, close the oven, and let it “cook” for an hour.
  4. Turn off the heat, open the door, and let the oven cool.
  5. Wearing gloves, use a damp rag to wipe down the interior. Use a microfiber sponge or old toothbrush for stubborn stains.
  6. Dry all surfaces with a clean microfiber cloth.

Pro Tip: This is one of our favorite tips for removing smells from a microwave.

5. Finish up with Puracy Surface Cleaner

how to clean tough oven stains

Spray all interior surfaces – including the glass window – with Puracy Natural Surface Cleaner. Wipe them down (top-to-bottom) with a clean microfiber towel.

For a streak-free clean, spray our natural oven cleaner on the oven top, door, and handle. Wipe with a clean microfiber cloth. If you're a sponge user, make sure it's new to avoid transferring germs around your kitchen.

Once you replace your oven racks, you’ll have a clean oven that’s ready for a gourmet meal (or a frozen pizza)!


How Often Should I Clean My Oven?

how often should i clean my oven

We say it a lot: Frequent care is easy care. Clean up spills immediately (once the oven is cool).

If you're a regular baker, wipe down everything every week and deep clean it every month. If you're an infrequent user, cleaning 2-3 times per year might be fine.

    The Best Oven Cleaner Is Plant-Based & Puracy

    best oven cleaner

    Plant-based cleaners don't rely on harsh caustics to work their magic – and our bestselling Natural Surface Cleaner is a testament to that! 99.51% natural, fume-free, and safe for virtually every kitchen surface, Puracy makes it easy to keep your kitchen clean!