Good Question: Are There Natural Oven Cleaners?

Liz just wrote us with an excellent question on cleaning her oven without harsh chemicals. She says:

I recently had a tart pan leak in my electric oven, and some stuff burned to the bottom of the oven. It smokes a bit and smells very burn-y. I want to clean it (it's not self-cleaning) but don't want to use harsh oven cleaners if I don't have to.

Do you know of any good, natural, home-made or low/non-toxic cleaning supplies or methods (other than good old elbow grease!) to clean this? Thanks for your help!

posted originally from: TheKitchn

Liz, this is a great question. We've also been wondering if there's a healthier way to clean our oven. This is also very timely for pie season (don't forget to always leave a cookie sheet underneath your bubbling fruit pies!).

We did a little research and found out that the same heroes of natural house cleaning apply to the oven too. Baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice all figured prominently in natural solutions for a dirty oven. One cleaning method we read suggested making a strong paste out of baking soda and vinegar and applying it to your crusty oven. Leave it for an hour then wipe clean.

If your oven is very bad, another slightly more toxic solution is to leave a bowl of ammonia in the oven all night. Remove and discard in the morning and scrub the oven.

You can find these and some more recipes for homemade oven cleaners here:
Cleaning your oven safely

About.com also had a more intensive baking soda process that involves spraying baking soda with water to keep it wet and active over a period of several hours.
Baking Soda in the Oven

You can also try Borax, Castile soap, and vinegar.

We haven't actually tried any of these yet but we will next time we need to clean our oven. How do you all clean your ovens, and do you use any of these natural methods? Which is the best?

Also, consider using an oven liner to minimize oven cleaning this holiday season.

Related: Survey: How Do You Clean Your Oven?

(Images: Vintage Woman's Day ad image by Flickr member lobstar28 and vinegar and baking soda image by Flickr member jilldoughtie, both licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.

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