How to clean an oven after not cleaning it for a while 

Tired of rescuing your beautiful dinners from what looks like a black hole? Here's how to make your oven shine like new

How to clean an oven after not cleaning it for a while

That cheese-on-toast your partner grilled for you last week as a comfort-meal dinner was so thoughtful. The molten, stringy cheese that dripped off the rack that’s now turned into a lump of solid rock on the floor of your oven? Not so much. 

But you accept your loved ones just the way they are, and cleaning your oven is an act of love the same way as messing it up with a toastie was. Here are some easy ways to clean an oven that won’t take all weekend! 

From advice on what you’ll need for cleaning your oven to how to clean oven racks, with these oven cleaning tips, all that’s required is a bit of teamwork.  

How to clean an oven: what you’ll need 

First thing’s first: grab the right tools for the job 

What you’ll need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Washing-up liquid
  • A kitchen brush or several sponges
  • Oven cleaner (or make your own with bicarbonate of soda and water)
  • Bicarbonate of soda (optional)
  • Plenty paper towels

1. Prepare for cleaning your oven

Firstly, check if your oven has a self-cleaning programme. If it does — great! Follow the instructions in your manufacturer’s guidelines and skip to Step 4 of this article for the final polish.  

If your oven doesn’t have a self-cleaning programme, make cleaning your oven just as much a breeze by getting ahead of the game the night before, or at least four hours before cleaning.  

Place the oven racks and baking trays into a sink full of hot water and washing-up liquid and leave them to soak. That’s right, soaking things isn’t lazy, it’s actually super-efficient. Next, spray the inside of the oven liberally with an oven cleaner, not forgetting the inside of the door. Make sure you read the instructions on the back of the packet. The best way to clean an oven is to now leave the oven cleaner to do its work. If you try to scrub the oven walls before the cleaner has dissolved the dirt, you’ll double your scrubbing time. And no one wants that. 

2. How to clean oven racks 

Because the hard work has been done by soaking the racks (you genius, you), all that’s left is to slide away the grime and scrub any burnt-on areas with a scourer. Don’t forget to don a pair of rubber gloves!   

3. How to clean an oven’s door and walls 

Now it’s time for the first wipe of the oven. The weeks of bubbled over dishes and exploding dinners should come away easily if the oven cleaner has been left to soak in for plenty of time.  


Avoid transferring gross, sludgy grease on a sponge to other areas by using kitchen paper towels to wipe away the first layer of oven grease. Plenty is ideal because it’ll stay strong enough for scrubbing, no matter how soaked it gets.

4. Oven cleaning tips for wiping down the oven door

You’re half way there! Use a damp paper towel to wipe away the remaining dirt and oven cleaner. If the dirt is difficult to remove, add more oven cleaner and leave to soak for longer. Repeat the process until you’re happy with it. 

5. Wipe down the oven a final time 

Polish and dry the oven with some strong kitchen paper. At this point, the surfaces should be clean, and you should be able to see through your oven door without squinting through a load of grease stains and exploding dinners that you can’t quite identify by their splatter. Hooray! 

6. Return the racks to the oven 

Give the racks a final polish and dry with a cloth, and return them to the oven.  

And there you have it: there is an easy way to clean an oven, after all. The best way to clean an oven is to let the soaking do the hard work, while you put your feet up. And our favourite part? Having done such a thorough job, you won’t need to worry about cleaning your oven again for at least another month. 

Now that your oven is sparkling, why not clean your baking trays to match? Discover how with our guide on how to clean baking trays until they shine.

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