The Best Way To Clean Your Oven May Seem Like The Most Daunting

While cooking gives us immense pleasure, cleaning afterward ... not so much. The oven is one appliance that's particularly annoying to clean. It's used often to bring us scrumptious cookies, roast savory meats, and conjure up all sorts of mouthwatering dishes, but many of us are guilty of ignoring or delaying cleaning it. That dried-up splatter of gravy and the burnt shreds of bread are nothing but a breeding ground for bacteria, says the U.S. Department Of Agriculture. Plus, a dirty oven can not only emit unpleasant odors and affect the taste of your food, but it can also be a fire hazard.

So cleaning your oven regularly is essential, let's dive into the right way to do it — yes there is a right way and a lot of wrong ways to clean your oven. Did you know that the best time to clean an oven is right after you use it? Now who would want to clean when the kitchen is already hot and the warm oven looks too scary to touch? But trust us, as daunting as cleaning over a warm oven may seem, it is the best way to clean your oven and make it spick and span again. 

The heat softens gunk and grime

Although it might be hard to convince yourself to do it, endeavor to clean your oven when it's still warm — not hot — after it's been used. You'll notice how much easier it is to collect all the debris and grime shortly after cooking. Cleaning right after use prevents stains from hardening over time, saving you hours of effort later on. The heat will also soften food splatters and grease, making them easier to wipe away. 

You won't need to leave harsh chemicals to sit overnight or scrub and rub endlessly to remove stubborn stains. Just a simple hot damp towel can do the trick to remove fresh spills. If you're removing old food residues and specks, the increased temperature will help loosen this leftover grime and help it slide away with your cleaning cloth. Though you may have to reach for some oven cleaner with older spills, it shouldn't require as much elbow grease. 

Heat can come in handy in other ways too

When just a wipe on a warm oven doesn't work, you can still tackle your dirty oven using heat via boiling water. For this trick, empty out your oven, removing any stored pots and pans, the racks, and loose bits of burnt food. Next, fill an oven-proof pan or pot with water and place it inside. Set your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and let it sit for about 30 minutes. During this time, your pot of water should eventually boil, building up steam in the appliance. 

Let your oven cool down a bit and you should have the perfect environment for cleaning; it should still be warm, and the steam and heat from your boiling water should have moistened and loosened the stuck gunk, allowing it to come off easily. For an extra boost of cleaning power, you can also add a bit of white vinegar, lemon, or another food-based cleaning solution.

It's worth noting that some ovens come with built-in cleaning functions, including steam-clean and dry-heat options. It's not surprising that they follow the same technique: cleaning with the help of high heat. Unfortunately, not all ovens have this function, so most of us will have to settle for cleaning our ovens while they're still warm from use. With this trick, there shouldn't be too much muss and fuss to maintain a sparkling oven that's ready to cook up your culinary masterpiece.