Cleaning the oven is a chore that all of us dread. There are some ovens out there, like self-cleaning ovens, which make the job a lot easier. But no matter what oven you are using it will always need a deep clean every now and then. The longer you leave it the harder it is to bust through all of that built up grease and baked-on dirt.
Conventional off-the-shelf oven cleaning chemicals can be expensive and use harsh, toxic chemicals that you may not want anywhere near where your food is cooked. Oven cleaners which claim to burn through grease in just minutes do it by using a potentially harmful, corrosive chemical called sodium hydroxide often known as caustic soda or lye. This is a high alkaline which can be harmful if is is not used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Some of the potential effects of mis-use of caustic soda based products are:
- Eye irritation
- Skin burns
- Irritation to mucous membranes
- Damage to the lungs
These possible dangers mean you’ll need to be careful when using caustic soda-based products. There are good reasons why warnings are put on conventional oven cleaning products! It’s important that you always read the manufacturer’s instructions first.
How to clean your oven the non-toxic way
You could be forgiven for thinking that something as hard to remove as baked-on, charcoaled food would need strong chemicals to be cleaned. However, there are many ways to clean a greasy oven using inexpensive and non-toxic ingredients you might already have in your kitchen cupboards. If you want an alternative, natural way to clean your oven, try some of these methods. They are cheap, eco-friendly options for green cleaning your oven at home.
Baking soda and water
Baking soda is a great household ingredient that can be used in a lot of different homemade cleaning solutions. It’s definitely worth keeping some around in your house! Mix some baking soda together with some water until you have a paste. Spread the paste all over the surfaces of the oven and leave it to settle into the grime. Most people recommend leaving the paste on the oven overnight to get the best results. The next day, scrape the grime and paste from the oven. You can use any tool with a blunt, flat edge to do this. When you are done, wipe down the whole oven with a cloth soaked in warm water and clean the residue dirt and paste away.
White vinegar won’t be enough to clean your oven by itself. However, sometimes when you have finished cleaning your oven, there can be a strange smell for a while after. To get rid of this, take a cloth soaked in diluted white distilled vinegar and run it around the oven after you have cleaned it. This will get rid of any pungent smells without using harsh chemicals.
Citrasolv is one company that makes natural but effective cleaning products, free from toxic chemicals. CitraSolv Concentrated Natural Cleaner and Degreaser is made from the clear liquid that comes from the peel of an orange (limonene). CitraSolv can be used to clean more than just your oven so it’s a good investment for your kitchen cleaning toolbox. You can create solutions with different levels of concentration depending on what part of your kitchen you are cleaning.
For oven cleaning, the website recommends you use CitraSolv full-strength. It’s extremely easy to use. Just apply the solution to the oven surfaces and leave it for about fifteen minutes to settle into the grease. Then wipe the oven clean with a clean, damp sponge, rinsing occasionally to keep it fresh. You can do this as many times as you need to before your oven is clean.
Washing-up liquid and water
An easy-to-make solution for getting rid of the grease on your oven is a mix of non-toxic washing-up liquid and warm water. Use a sponge or a clean cloth soaked in the mixture to scrub the grease away from your oven.
Another one for getting rid of those greasy smells, lemon juice is a great, natural alternative to chemical oven cleaners. Squeeze a couple of lemons into a bowl of warm water until you have a decent amount of the solution. There are two different ways to use this mixture. You can place the bowl into your oven and heat it up for about half-an-hour at a low temperature. The alternative is to use a clean cloth or sponge soaked in the lemon and water concoction to wipe the inside of your oven. This will leave your oven with a fresh, citrus smell without relying on harmful chemicals.
Advantages of homemade oven cleaners
- Doesn’t cause toxic fumes
- Environmentally friendly
- Personal control over the ingredients in the cleaning recipe
Disadvantages of eco-friendly oven cleaning
- More effort may be required to remove baked-on residues
- The cleaning process may require more time compared to conventional methods
- You may have to repeat the process until you achieve the best result
Now that you know how to clean your oven the natural way don’t rely on those toxic chemical oven cleaners. Try one of these natural alternatives for a fresh, healthy way to clean your oven and keep your kitchen safe with a DIY solution instead.
If your oven is beyond your expertise, or you simply can’t bring yourself to do the job, think about calling in a professional. Some professional oven cleaning companies offer a kinder range of oven cleaners that break down grease and baked-on food rather than ‘burning’ them off. Cleaning products containing these ingredients will generally be more limited in effect and will take longer to work. However, they will be kinder to the environment and safer to dispose of.
Caustic soda is a very effective oven cleaning product and is only dangerous if it’s a concentrate. If it is diluted, which is what happens when you wash it off, it is safe. Turning on the oven after cleaning will eliminate what’s left. Fumes are also harmless so long as you’ve carefully wiped the cleaner off.
The range of oven oven cleaning products that claim to be eco-friendly is a growing market. Whilst they are eco- friendly they won’t necessarily do the job you need doing, in the time you have available to do it.
- If you use conventional oven cleaning chemicals remember to always read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions before starting
- Use protective gloves and a mask when handling harsh cleaning chemicals
- Keep cleaning products out of reach of children and pets.