Easy Homemade Oven Cleaner


Today’s post is sponsored by the word: PROCRASTINATION. :-)  It’s a very fitting word for this particular subject matter…because I think if there were a competition for who could procrastinate a particularly onerous chore like cleaning the oven the longest….I would definitely be on top of the winners’ platform showing off my GOLD medal! But wait, it gets WORSE! Before I even got to the procrastinating point….I spent a LONG time RATIONALIZING why I didn’t need to clean the oven in the first place.

“No one sees it besides me!”     “It’s not THAT bad!” (As it went from bad to WORSE!)      “No ones cares what the inside looks like….do they?”

Well, while they might not necessarily CARE….they do notice.  One Sunday a few months ago my daughter in college and her boyfriend came for Sunday dinner, and during the preparations she actually had the NERVE to point out that the oven was pretty dirty.  Unfortunately (fortunately?) that’s what it took to jar me out of my stupor of rationalization and catapult me into the realms of PROCRASTINATION. Which is where I have stayed for the last couple of months.
Thankfully I came across something that piqued my curiosity enough to FINALLY move me into ACTION. It was an article about how to clean your oven using ammonia. Much like the post I did back in January about how to clean your stove burner pans with ammonia. Now we were getting somewhere! I absolutely DETEST the smell, the mess and the cost of store-bought oven cleaners! Not to mention all the nasty chemicals!  This homemade oven cleaner works overnight to loosen and dissolve grease and baked on foods. It’s inexpensive, and it’s much less harsh than typical store-bought products. Although it doesn’t magically clean your oven, this homemade oven cleaner makes a  a difficult job much easier than simply rubbing and scrubbing. Trust me on this.

So without further ado….here’s how it works:

Begin by preheating the oven to 150 degrees F. While the oven is heating, put on a pot of water to boil. Once the oven has reached 150 F, turn it off and pour 1 cup of ammonia into a heat safe bowl or baking dish and place it on the top rack of the oven. Place the pot of boiling water on the bottom rack, close the oven door, and leave them both in the oven overnight.



The next morning, open the oven and remove both the bowl of ammonia and the pot of water. Don’t dispose of the ammonia; you’ll want to use it later. Remove the racks and leave the oven door open to air out for 15 minutes. Add 1-2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap to the ammonia, along with a quart of warm water, and using a heavy-duty nylon scrubbing pad dipped in the ammonia mixture, begin to wipe away the softened grease and grime along the sides and bottom of the oven. It should be a fairly easy job at this point. Wear some kitchen gloves, since ammonia can be caustic to skin. However, I found it interesting that the ammonia was WAY LESS powerful smelling after having sat overnight in the oven.


 I sprinkled some baking soda on the glass to help cut through the gunk. Worked like a charm!


Keeping in mind how greasy and grimy my oven was from years of PROCRASTIZATION…(yes, I meant to spell it that way…it’s a new word I just made up)…I had to do this process TWICE! If I had been willing to spend the entire day at it, I probably could have finished after one overnight ammonia treatment, but the whole idea was NOT to have to scrub until you think you’re going to expire from the fumes and the effort!  So I decided to let the ammonia do it’s thing for one more night. FOR ME (procrastization girl!) it was just the ticket! The next day the rest of the oven cleaned up ALMOST effortlessly. Honestly, the hardest part was just being able to reach in far enough to scrub off the back wall! If I had 6 feet long arms it would have made this job MUCH easier. :-)

So yes, I am sold on this it

Pictures don’t lie. :-)

 Perfect? No. VASTLY IMPROVED? Yes!

A Couple of Warnings:

UPDATE: This should not be done on gas ovens unless the pilot light is out and the gas has been turned off.

Never mix ammonia with other strong cleaning agents, such as bleach or commercial oven cleaners.


Want to know how I got the oven RACKS all shiny clean???

You’ll have to come back tomorrow to find out. :-)


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  1. Heather says

    I had to clean a spill out of my oven a few months ago and was struggling with reaching way into the back. My husband walked in and suggested that I just take off the door. How did he know this and I did not!! Anyway, apparently most oven doors just lift straight up and come off. Makes it much easier to reach the back.

  2. Lauralee says

    I was right in your boat thinking I could do this UNTIL you said no way for GAS ovens. Now what am I going to do? I guess I’ll just wait another year, rationalize and blame it on you!

    • Jillee says

      Lauralee….I did a little more research and have updated the original post with this:

      UPDATE: This should not be done on gas ovens unless the pilot light is out and the gas has been turned off.

      So sorry….can’t blame it on me anymore! :-P lol!!

        • Amy says

          There has got to be away for us to heat the oven to 200 or higher (giving us lag time) Then Shut the gas off and blow out the pilot for the night. Surely that will work? I’m putting my husband on this mission as well. I emailed Jillie a while back for an oven solution! THIS HAS GOT TO WORK! LOL!

          • Patti's Paraphernalia says

            I have a gas oven, but it has electronic ignition, so there is no pilot light. Once the oven is turned off, after heating, there is no danger. I think many newer ovens probably have this. When I turn mine on it does a rapid clicking, which is an electric “spark” to ignite the gas. I’ve never had any problem with any cleaning product in it. It is a good idea, however, to empty the drawer under the oven (if you have one) so that any cleaning solution that does drip through doesn’t damage whatever might be stored in it. I keep my large baking sheets and pizza stones in it. Great post, Jill!

      • Leeanne says

        I’ve used a paste of baking soda on my oven to remove the grease. Just let it sit for 20-30 minutes and the scrub off. After you are done scrubbing you could let it dry and then vacuum the baking soda off, otherwise you will have to wipe off the surfaces several times to remove the residue.

      • Cheryl says

        My oven is gas but has an electic pilot which only comes on when the oven is turned on. Do I still need to pull the stove out and turn off the gas supply?? What a job that’ll be trying to climb behind it. My oven needs cleaning really bad but not sure if getting behind the stove is even doable.

        • Patti's Paraphernalia says

          I wouldn’t think that you’d have to turn the gas off. Since there’s no pilot light, there’s no gas coming out of the pilot light burner. The gas only turns on when the igniter is going. I know this because my stove is useless if our electricity is out…I can’t even ignite burners with matches.

    • Tasha says

      I would just unplug the oven, most relatively new ovens have a safety that will not allow gas to flow if it is unplugged. In case of say a power outage, because it wouldn’t be cool to have gas still flowing but the flame is out.
      I will probably try this in the near future! :-)

  3. Marianne says

    I’m going to try this! Previously I had just been sprinkling baking soda in the oven, spraying it with plain water, then scrubbing away. The flaw in this technique is you can’t sprinkle baking soda on the sides or top of the oven.

    • jen says

      You make a paste og baking soda and water. It sticks to the sides. I use only this. I do not have to scrub either. The alkaline baking soda neutralizes the acidic grease and cuts right through. Just have to wipe several times and keep rinsing youe sponge or rag. To me that is way better than scrubbing and smelling ammonia or commercial oven cleaner. I have a 1970s gas stove and this works beautifully. The first time I did this I did not even realize my oven was blue on the inside – it was that dirty!

  4. Linda says

    I have a new stove and the oven is a vigrin LOL I do not use my oven since I got parrots. But do like your cleaning idea. I cannot use ammonia due to the odor that parrots cannot have around them, even in the next room with an odor as strong as ommonia. I am passing this idea on to my daughter, daugterh in laws and granddaughters. I always look forward to your posts and your great ideas. Take care.

          • Sarah says

            You should not use the ammonia because parrots (most birds for that matter) have respiratory systems that can’t filter that stuff out very well and it will hurt them, possibly kill them, etc. This is why canaries were used in the mines, their respiratory systems would give out long before the miners would be in trouble.
            FYI to the woman that posted this, using your oven with parrots will not hurt them, we have a goffin cockatoo for 10 plus years now and we use the oven with him in the same room all the time with no trouble. I would still avoid the cleaner though… Also, FYi some more, I used her magic paste on our oven for the same reason (can’t use ammonia with the bird) and didn’t have the time to let it sit overnight… you have to use a little more elbow grease that way, but if you coat your oven with the paste, let it sit for at least an hour and then scrub with a sponge, it works amazingly well. :D

  5. Gale says

    Thanks for another great tip! My oven is a self-cleaning one, but like all others I’ve owned, I’m too afraid to use the self cleaning feature because they get so hot. I’m off work next week for Spring Break, so I’ll be adding this to my “to do” list!

    • Monica L. says

      Gale, I used the self cleaning option once and yes, I was afraid of the heat (cause it gets reaaaalllyyyy hot), but not only that, the second thing that scared me was the fume and at that time I didn’t know and I had a C-Section and a newborn at home, so I had to open all the doors and windows, exhaust fans and every single fan that I have at home so the fumes won’t reach my room with my baby. So I guess the ammonia is better, but I hava a gas oven/stove, so I don’t know where to shut the gas and the pilot light :( I’ll try to figure out :)

  6. says

    I also hate to clean the oven…and I cook a lot! HATE harmful chemicals as well…

    I found that the formula using Dawn detergent, baking soda and vinegar-with some lemon juice-does a GREAT job with no awful fumes. ( That ammonia smell-ick.) I’m stuck with an old stove right now that does not self clean :( That will change when we move later this year, but for now-I’m loving homemade natural cleaners!

    Check out my Pinterest board- “Simple Natural Frugal” here: http://pinterest.com/firemonkey5/

  7. Dawn P says

    I was going to tell you to pull your door off the hinges, but it looks like a few others beat me to it. So I will tell you that when cleaning your stove top, the entire top actually lifts up so you can clean underneath.

    I must say I love your stuff! I’ve found over the past couple weeks since I found you I look forward to and get excited when I see your email in my inbox. Thank you for doing such a fantastic job!!

  8. Jill says

    Hi Jillee,

    This method of oven cleaning is the way I learned to do it more years ago than I’ll confess to when I was a young military wife and had to pass those “white glove inspections” before being able to check out of government quarters without a penalty. It works so well, doesn’t it??? Something we did to help with the build up of gunk on the racks was to put them into a large disposable yard trash bag, toss in a rag soaked in ammonia, tie it off and let it sit outside overnight on the driveway (I have no idea what folks did when it was freezing outside . . . we only got stationed in warm places and rotated during the summer months). In the morning, just pull those racks out of the bag and hose ‘em down. All that gunk just comes right off! If it’s really, really bad (like burned on FOREVER bad), just use a fingernail at the edge of the black spot and it literally pops right off! No foolin’!

    These days, no more “white glove” stuff . . . government quarters are now managed (and cleaned between tenants) by out-sourced contractors. Lucky folks! No more ponying up $300 for a “guaranteed to pass” cleaning crew or slaving over it all yourself and hoping that you did everything right so you don’t end up paying somebody in frustration after you didn’t pass 3 times! Ugh!

    Love, love, LOVE your site!! Just wish I could get the “search” function to work for me. You have so many great things here, and I just follow all the great links at the bottoms of your posts.

    The way you write, I often feel like we are soul sisters . . . in fact, I just told my hubby that the other day and then shared some of your posts with him . . . he TOTALLY agreed that we are a pair of matching Jills! LOL!

    Jill in FL

  9. Melissa Zahm says

    Thanks for this great idea. I am highly allergic to oven cleaners and cannot use them. My mother stayed with me for several months and she decided to clean my oven using a spray. I warned her she would have to air out the house before I got home that afternoon. Even after doing so, within ten minutes of me being in my house, I was done. Couldn’t breathe, coughing and extremely nauseous. I lost my voice for over a week and had respiratory problems for longer then that. This seems like something I can handle and still manage to get that nice clean oven that anyone wouldn’t mind company seeing the inside of. Thanks for the tips!

  10. Becky Fussy says

    @ Robin and Deb- How the hell do you figure its not the same oven.. the drawers next to the oven are identical… Only difference I can see is it looks like she took the sticker off from the left side on the top and door (picture looking in, comparison) But you can clearly see where the sticker mark was…

    Jillee- Looks good. My oven has a self clean mode but it apparently has decided 3 hours into the 4 hour cycle that it wants to stop working (locking door malfunction error) so I’ll be trying your method.


  11. Jenelle says

    Oh. My. GOD!

    My oven is pretty new (2009) and when we moved in in Dec 2011, the oven was pretty clean. I just did this and i cannot BELIEVE how well that works!!! thank you thank you thank you!

  12. connie starnes says

    I tried your burner cleaning idea on my oven and using my long handle brush that I use on my grill helped to get to the back of the oven that is so hard to reach. This new one seems to be much easier and will be trying it the next time I clean my oven. You mentioned the back of the oven being hard to reach, and I agree, try using the grill brush…it really makes it easier to reach.
    Thanks for putting so much of your time into your projects and sharing them with the world to make our days so much easier.

  13. Vanessa says

    One of the greatest inventions ever made can be found in the alluminum pan aisle at “most” grocery stores… an alluminum disposable tray liner that fits under the main burner of the floor of the oven!! I swear by them and they usually come in a 2 pack. I keep the extra in the drawer under the oven.
    Also taking off the oven door to reach the sides and back is a trick that we professional housekeepers have been doing for years. (same with removing almost every part of a refridgerator/freezer.)
    Trick #2… Barkeepers is a MUST for everything!
    Can’t wait to do this to my oven…… some day….lol!

    • Patti's Paraphernalia says

      I put heavy-weight aluminum foil, shiny side up, on the bottom of my oven, so if I have a really bad spill, I can wad it up and throw it away. Just make sure that you don’t cover any of the air circulation holes in the bottom of gas ovens. I’m hesitant to use the silicone liners because some of them melt at 400 – 500 degrees. I sometimes use my oven that hot just for the first few minutes of baking a pizza.

  14. elizabeth cain says

    I cleaned houses with my Grams business all through my teen years and when I moved into my husbands house I thought I would surprise him and clean the oven. I took the door off and lost a lock washer of some sort. I have not gotten around to replacing it yet and now my door is pretty hard to close. I can close it but have to jerk it up and to the right a tad…ugh..So anyway..just wanted to warn other folks to be careful about that. I have a oven/broiler wall unit. House was built in 73.

  15. says

    Why couldn’t you preheat a gas oven and then just turn off the gas? Without gas, the pilot light will go out in a couple of minutes. My pilot light is not lit until I turn the stove on since it has an elevtric ignition, but my stove is also “self-cleaning” which means “never really clean” … I have to lock it for SIX hours and it gets super hot and just burns everything in there to a crisp, then needs to be vacuumed out. But the walls and glass never come clean and have to be scrubbed anyway :(

  16. fiona loper says

    sorry, but i have a way to clean ovens that has yours beat, NO chemicals, No chemical smells, and takes about fifteen minutes. i invested 20 bucks in one of those little hand held portable steamers, i cleaned the oven with it. took two cups of water and a quick wipe across the bottom with a sponge…….. No chemicals. no waiting time…… once go steam.your oven goes gleam……
    i use it for walls and pretty much everything now.
    . just saying…

  17. Peggy Davis says

    I did white glove inspections for military housing back in the 80.s. This is the best way to clean your oven. I always turned the gas off before working on a stove. The only thing I did different was I after I had removed the containers from the oven I put the racks and burner parts (from the top of the stove in a black garbage bag took them outside in the sun – poured the ammonia in the bag and let it set a couple of hours for the tough areas. You can also put the in the tub and soak them over night (make sure to keep your bathroom fan on!
    Did you know that ammonia/water and a floor scrubber (I used my Grandmothers hoover scrubber) will strip the wax off your tile? Just make sure you open the windows because it does stink.
    A a packet of lemon koolaid will clean your dishwasher. Put it in tthe dispenser and run the dishwasher.
    Real Lemon lemon juice will clean the tank on your toilet, take the tank lid off pour a bottle of lemon juice in the tank let set overnight.
    Spills in your stove top… use baking soda. Put the baking soda on the spot you need to clean use a wet paper towel to scrub the spot…comes off everytime and will not hurt your stobe.

    • Tabby says

      Peggy…I love your ideas! Thank you for sharing!
      Jillie…thank you for posting your idea! I have everything set up and excited to see what my oven looks like in the morning. I have a feeling that mine is going to take two times too. I just bought this house, and the previous owner left a DISGUSTING mess for me! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  18. Alisha says

    I use about a third of a cup of vinegar in a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup of water, microwaved on high for about 5 minutes, to clean my microwave. When it’s done heating, all the grime just wipes off with ZERO effort. Now being that it’s an oven, I’m sure it’s a little tougher but until this post, I had never thought of using the vinegar for the oven. Thanks! I’m going to try it with vinegar before I test ammonia. I can’t stand that smell either.

    • Theresa says

      Alisha, I get the 1/3 cup of vinegar. Do you use a 2 cup measurer along with one cup of water? Sorry I wanted to make sure I get the instructions right, cause it sounds like a great idea. Thank you for sharing :0)

  19. Charlotte says

    Just a word here, ammonia works wonders, however, anyone with asthma or breathing conditions, I would go a different route. I ac”burnt” my lungs from using ammonia to clean a commercial stove/grill, even though the exhaust fans were on. As caustic as it is to the skin, the fumes are the same to the lungs. Just a caution from someone who has been there… Happy Cleaning everyone.

  20. Laurie says

    Just a tip for you (haven’t read through all the comments so it may have come up already)… you can totally remove the oven door… makes it a lot easier to clean the inside of the oven. I normally clean the door first… then remove it and set aside… then lay newspaper on the floor in front of the oven to catch any nasty bits to keep them from ruining my cork floors. Check the owner’s manual that came with your range to see how to remove the door. CAUTION: the door is flippin’ heavy… so careful.

  21. Marieta says

    Hi Jillee! I love all your great tips and totally used the trick you gave in order to clean oven racks. It worked so well. When I cleaned my oven last, I too was getting tired of scrubbing the back of the oven while my arms were far too short. I figured there must be a way to get the door off. So after some exploring I found that the door did come off, which made my cleaning task much easier. (For my oven I flipped a little clasp by the hinge and which made it possible for me too pull the door up and out (off the hinge).)

  22. says

    I was ready to try this until I read about the gas oven – didn’t think of that, but if you have stove burners or the pans that go under the burners with burned on gunk, or a baking pan you can’t clean, you can put them in a plastic garbage bag and pour on about a cup of ammonia. Seal up the bag and leave in the sink or outside overnight. In the morning, the gunk practically rinses off with no scrubbing. I’ve been doing this for years.

  23. Nona says

    Thanks for the great tips. I agree the reaching in over the oven door makes the job awkward. I discovered most oven doors easily slide up and off when the door is a few inches ajar. Give it try.. it is easy and it slides back on just as easily. Good luck.

  24. Trish says

    For those who are sensitive to ammonia fumes, I just used a technique called Eight Easy Steps to a Clean Oven (you can Google his webpage for the full instructions). It takes several days (3 weeks for my ignored for years oven), but it is very effective with no stress, no fumes, and no elbow grease. It requires mixing 3 heaping tablespoons of baking soda with 32 oz. water in a spray bottle and spraying the inside … top, sides, bottom, and doors … with the solution once or twice daily until the gunk has all melted to the bottom of the oven. Then wiping it clean and polishing with a microfiber cloth. I used a dampened pumice stone for the most stubborn spots and they just erased away. I already knew about removing the door for the cleaning step :) so the back was no problem.

  25. Diane says

    Maybe this was mentioned in a previous comment, but I did not see it. What about the top of the oven? Did you do that as well or just leave it? I haven’t done it with mine yet for fear of messing up the burner at the top. Any suggestions?

  26. Sarah says

    FYI For those concerned about Gas ovens and asthma, and perhaps the time involved with this technique…. I used her “miracle” goop mix with the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda and made it a bit soupier than a paste. Then I rubbed it all over the walls and sides of the oven and let it sit for a while. (I let mine sit for at least an hour) Then you take some sort of scrubber, I just used a normal sink sponge (the yellow ones with the green scrubby side) and just scrubbed and rinsed. So its a little time consuming and you have to put a little elbow grease into the stubborn parts, but it totally works. And like I said, I didn’t really have all night.

  27. Christina says

    I usually wait until Thanksgiving to use the self cleaning oven it does a good job but never gets the window in the door clean, I hate using the oven in the summer months so I try not to. I will try this though and see if its easier! thanks for the Helpful tip!

  28. Amy says

    Be careful taking the door off. I took mine off with no problem but since I put it back it just falls open. I am sure I just put it back on wrong but can’t figure out how to do it right. :)

    • Leslie says

      Amy, I did that once when I forgot that there were small pins that slid into the holes before you take off the door. It took two people with a flat head screwdriver to release and hold till the pins were put in and whalla!

  29. Marisa Oka says

    YOu are such an inspiration….I started the oil challenge on my skin and LOVE the results, I mean really LOVE the results. My skin feels amazing and now my oven will look gorgeous…are you sure you don’t wear a cape?
    Thanks for all the blogs!

    • Marla says

      Most coils do left up enough to clean under them. Though they can warp so be carful, or they will stick up in the air farther than they are supposed to and not want to go back down. I did have a maintenance man tell me once that there is a type of screw driver that will take them off. I never looked into that.

  30. Marla says

    Not sure if this has been mentioned yet or not, but if you still have tough black spots that need a little extra scrubbing just use a pumie scouring stone. They are AMAZING for that!! Pretty sure you can get them at the Dollar Store and they also work great for the hard water ring in the toilet….and many other uses.

  31. Pammy says

    Did you know that your oven door probably slides off the hinges!!! if you pull straight up in the air when the door is part way ajar it slides right off makes reaching back much easier You just need some newspapers on the floor to lay it onto till you clean it up

    Another tip to help prevent this mess is the first place esp when your elements are exposed like yours are
    they sell Teflon oven sheets that sit under the element on the floor of your oven and when it spills over and is burned black you take sheet out and bend it and it pops right off you don’t even need to wash the teflon sheet. My new stove has a hidden element so I ordered and extra oven rack just to sit above the bottom of my stove cause it says not ot put it on floor of stove of unexposed elements but it does interfere a bit with temp i need to run my oven about 10 degrees hotter for cakes i wish i had my old exposed elements back in the oven but would not give up my flat stovetop for the world


  1. […] amount of elbow grease and careful attention is going to save your oven. You might be wrong. I used this method and while I wouldn’t say it was easy, it got the job done. I took apart the stove top and […]

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