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The Best Way To Clean An Oven Is Easy And Gross

Illustration for article titled The Best Way To Clean An Oven Is Easy And Gross
Photo: Becca Tapert (Unsplash)
SqualorJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Email her.

The holiday season exacts a heavy toll on the humble oven. Turkeys that splatter grease everywhere, gratins that bubble over leaving burning cheese behind, the cranberry upside-down cake you put in the wrong kind of pan and ended up with cranberry upside-down goo all over the place. When a mess happens in your oven, the best thing to do is to grab a can of oven cleaner and go to town.

Oven cleaning products like Easy-Off are probably the best way to clean an oven but they are not perfect, so some warnings are required before I send you off to use the stuff.

The first warning is this: The stuff stinks — even the “odor-free” kind. So it’s important when working with oven cleaner that you open the windows or otherwise ensure that there’s good ventilation in the kitchen.


The second warning is this: You absolutely must wear rubber gloves when using oven cleaner — it’s highly caustic and will burn your skin.

The third warning is this: Cleaning the oven is a stunningly filthy job. Just … be prepared for that.

Illustration for article titled The Best Way To Clean An Oven Is Easy And Gross
Graphic: Ana Luisa Suarez

In addition to oven cleaner, you will need a few other items before you get to work. Rubber gloves, please!


A scrub sponge!

A bucket for water in which to rinse your sponge while you work!


And, duh, the oven cleaner.


Cleaning an oven is, while very messy and quite unpleasant, a pretty straightforward job. Before we get into the “how” of it though, a reminder that you should still read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, since usage can vary from brand to brand.

Shake the can well, and spray the oven cleaner in the entire interior of the oven, including the racks, then close the oven door. After 10 minutes, it’s time to head in so: Don your gloves, fill the bucket about a third of the way up with clean water and grab a sponge. Also! Make sure the kitchen sink is empty, because that’s where you’re going to clean the racks. You’ll also need to change the water out and I promise you do not want to dump that dirty water on your plates.

Start with the racks: Remove them from oven one at a time, and put them in the sink. Using a wet sponge, wipe the oven cleaner off, switching to the scrubby side of the sponge to scour any badly burnt-on gunk. Then, move the racks out of the sink and set them aside.


Using a wet sponge, start wiping out the interior of the oven; start with the top of the oven, then wipe the sides, then the back and ending with the floor. The order is important because the cleaner/gunk will drip as you wipe, so you want to start at the top and work down. There will probably be some burnt-on spots, and those can be scoured using the scrub side of the sponge. As you work, rinse the sponge frequently (hence the bucket of water!) and expect that you’ll probably have to replace the water at least once during the process. It will be gross! But gross in weirdly satisfying kind of way?

Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person

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