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

A person wearing gloves cleans the exterior of an oven

Your partner grilling up their signature cheese-on-toast last week was a solid idea in theory. The molten, stringy cheese that dripped off the rack and formed mini mountains of mature cheddar on the oven bottom? Even more solid. But you accept your loved ones – and their messes – 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 in the first place. 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, the door and sides, with these oven cleaning tips, all that’s required is a bit of elbow grease and teamwork! On top of that, stick around to find out how to keep an oven clean all year long! 

How to clean an oven: what you’ll need 

Before you do anything, you’ll first need to gather the tools needed for cleaning your oven 

What you’ll need

1. Cleaning your oven: preparation 

Firstly, check if your oven has a self-cleaning programme. If it does, run the programme, stick the kettle on and rehearse your speech about how this part took you hours. Now 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 of a breeze by getting ahead of the game and completing this step the night before, or at least four hours before moving on to step 2. 

Here’s how to prepare for cleaning your oven: place the oven racks and baking trays into a sink full of hot water and washing-up liquid and leave them to soak. 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 oven cleaner bottle or packet. The best way to clean an oven is to 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 who needs that? With the next ruby-red sauce-plosion or mud-bath-brown paw-print pandemonium, it’s always a good idea to save your energy and time where you can. Who knows what fun little obstacles life will chuck at you next? 

2. How to clean oven racks 

Because the hard work has already been done by soaking the racks, all that’s left is to slide away the loosened grime and scrub any burnt areas with a scourer. Don’t forget to don a pair of rubber gloves and have a good stretch beforehand – depending on how well the soak did its thing, this could be a serious arm workout. Maybe your partner or family member can swap in halfway through, sort of like a splashy relay race; only in this race, everyone wins! 

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 into the grime for plenty of time.  


Use Plenty Flexisheets– Product of the Year Winner 2024* - to avoid the spread of sludgy grease you'd get with a sponge. And with more perforations on the roll, you can choose exactly how much kitchen roll you use. So, if you're jacket spuds have exploded or your casserole dish bubbled over, you'll always have the perfect amount of kitchen roll.

4. Oven cleaning tips for wiping down the oven door

You're halfway there, so reward your gritty graft with a well-earned cup of tea. Stick your feet up for five – this can wait! Feeling suitably rested and ready to dive back in? Now 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

Now you know how to clean the oven racks and trays effectively, they should be gleaming. Give the racks a final polish dry with a cloth, and return them to the oven. 

And that's it! Now you're well-versed in how to clean an oven using these 6 easy steps, it's time to learn how to keep it clean all year round. Cleaning the oven can be deeply satisfying. And in the meantime, have a go at cleaning your fridge to keep that clean kitchen feeling flowing. 

How to keep an oven clean all year round 

Once your oven is shining like new, sit back and admire your handy work because the chances are it won’t stay like that for long! And that’s okay. In a busy household where there are figurative fires to put out all over the place, the oven can wait to be spruced up again. In this life, we need to prioritise! And sometimes that means having a day off from strenuously scrubbing steel surfaces. 

That being said, to maintain some semblance of the cleanliness, follow one or all of these top 3 tips... 

1. Remember oven liners 

Make your life easier with this simple trick before firing up your oven. Prepare the base by lining it with either a trusty piece of foil or an easy-clean oven sheet, available at most shops that sell kitchen goods. These handy non-stick sheets come in various sizes, catering to all types of ovens – and perfect for bakers who love to overfill their cake tins! 

2. Use roasting bags 

Roasting bags are available to use for meat or fish to make sure there are no spills during cooking. So, next time you’re cooking a Sunday roast dinner or baked fish for a summertime treat, try one out. Just remember to check on your meat more often as it will cook faster than veg. 

But don’t forget to puncture the top of the bag with a fork a few times, or you'll have the mother of all clean-ups on your hands, and if it's you who has forgotten to pierce the bags, your pleas for help with the clean-up of this roast chicken oven blast might fall on deaf ears... 

3. Clean the oven a little more often 

We’re not suggesting you clean the oven after every use. Who’s got time for that? Those crispy crumbs at the bottom of the oven are just a part of life – and they add to the flavour of your dishes! But if you are happy to clean your oven more often, we salute you! 

This can sound like a lot of extra work in theory, but once you get into this habit of cleaning after each use, it will become just another part of your evening routine before you go to bed. Plus, it only takes a couple of minutes if you do it every day you use your oven.  

When you’ve finished using the oven, place a heat-resistant bowl of water inside and heat at a high temperature for 20 minutes, while you sit back and enjoy your meal. This helps to loosen the dirt and grease inside the oven. Then, let the oven cool down completely, before running over the inner walls and door with a wipe to remove grime. 

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. 

*Winner General Household Category. Survey of 8,000 people in UK & ROI

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