How To Clean Your Oven While You Sleep (Seriously!)

Cleaning your oven is one of those chores that is easy to put off. You only briefly look inside it a couple of times a day at the most, so it’s easy to let the problem remain out of sight, and out of mind. But I’m here to tell you that cleaning your oven is actually way easier than you might think! Today I’ll be showing you a super easy way to clean your oven that doesn’t require expensive store-bought cleaners, or massive amounts of elbow grease.

The keys to this method? Simple household ammonia, and time. (This method actually has a lot in common with the way I clean my nasty stove burners!)

Related: This Is The Easiest Way To Clean Your Stove Burners

Inexpensive ammonia helps to loosen and dissolve those tough baked-on messes inside your oven. Instead of scrubbing for hours, you’ll be able to wipe your oven clean in just a few minutes. Although this homemade oven cleaner doesn’t do all the work for you, it does make a difficult job much, much easier!

But before I show you how it’s done, let’s get a couple of important warnings out of the way:

  • If you have a gas oven, make sure the pilot light is out and the gas has been turned off before you start cleaning.
  • Never mix ammonia with other strong cleaning agents, such as bleach or commercial oven cleaners.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area. At the very least, open up the windows while you work.

Okay, now let’s get started! :-)

Related:  This Clever Oven Cleaning Hack Makes It Easy To Do The Impossible

How To Easily Clean Your Oven

You’ll need:

  • Ammonia
  • Baking dish
  • Pot of water
  • Dish soap
  • Scrubbing pad or sponge
  • Cleaning gloves

Directions:

Step 1 – Prep

Start by preheating your oven to 150 degrees F. While the oven is heating, put your pot of water on your stovetop and bring it to a boil.

When the oven has reached 150 F, turn it off. Pour 1 cup of ammonia into a baking dish, then place the dish on the top rack of your oven.

Finally, place the pot of boiling water on the bottom rack of your oven, and close the oven door.

Step 2 – Wait

You’ll want to give the ammonia and hot water several hours to work their magic inside your oven. The most convenient way to do it is to do the prep right before you go to bed, and let it sit overnight.

Step 3 – Empty The Oven

In the morning, open your oven and remove both the bowl of ammonia and the pot of water. (But don’t dispose of the ammonia; you’ll want to use it later!)

Remove the oven racks as well, and leave the oven door open to air out for about 15 minutes.

Step 4 – Scrub

Now that the ammonia has had time to work it’s magic, it’s time to scrub all that nastiness away.

Add 1-2 teaspoons of dish soap to the dish of ammonia, along with a quart of warm water. Then pull on your cleaning gloves and grab a scrubbing pad.

Dip the scrubbing pad into the ammonia mixture, and use it 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!)

Homemade Oven Cleaner

If you’re willing to give it a try, I promise this will be the easiest way to clean your oven you’ve ever tried! (And if your oven racks look like they could use some love too, check out the link below!)

Related: An (Almost) Effortless Way To Clean Your Oven Racks

Homemade Oven Cleaner

Bonus Tip: Remove Your Oven Door

If you’re having a hard time reaching the back of your oven, you can make it much easier by removing the oven door. I know, it sounds complicated – but it really isn’t! To remove the door from the oven at our studio, we simply pulled it all the way open, then used a grilling fork to pry open a latch on each side. It came right off, and was very easy to put back on.

If your oven door doesn’t have latches like ours, just Google “remove oven door on [your oven make and model]” and I’m sure you’ll find the right instructions!

How often do you clean your oven?

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Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Homekeeping Tips

  • I know ammonia is dangerous for pets, the smell, fumes, etc. is there any alternatives you would recommend that would clean your oven as thoroughly and effectively as ammonia?

  • Thank you! That worked so well! I waited much too long to clean my oven. I have one spot that did not budge. Suggestions? Thanks again for your innovative, inspiring ideas!

    • Got it. I generously applied Bartender’s Friend. Then soaked one of your fabulous waffle towels in hot water, and applied the wet (not wrung out) towel on top of the Bartender’s Friend area. Let it soak for a couple of hours and now I have a clean oven!

  • I saw this again and my oven is a gee-holy mess! I was taking peanut butter cookies and moving them around and one fell off and went on the bottom of the oven and in-between the door. I was so mad! After all of the Christmas baking and all, my oven really needs an overhaul and I am living in a rental house, so I have to keep everything clean. This suggestion and instructions will really help me. Thank you for all of your suggestions.
    Just a note about your post on addiction; we are all imperfect in God’s eyes, but his love and his sacrifice made us perfect. Your road was painful I saw that, but we all have pasts we are not too proud of. But it is what we do with them and who we become that makes us into the people we are today. God bless you and thank you for sharing yours with us. We love you, Jillie, your suggestions have made all of our lives much easier. You are who you are today, with us, because of what you went through. Your life is an inspiration and you have a beautiful family too.

  • i just use my self-cleaning oven and it works great. I thought most ovens were self-cleaning these days. Is that bad to do or something?

  • What a great idea. However I have a question. I suffer from asthma. Will I be affected by ammonia fumes in the morning when I open the oven door?

  • Just finished cleaning the oven with this method & boy, was I surprised & very pleased with the result. Even though I have a self cleaning oven, it never left my oven this clean! Thanks for the tip! Will definitely try others ….like for the oven racks with ammonia in a trash bag!

  • Hi, Love your site. Great tips for us in New Zealand.
    Does the ammonia clean the oven door quite well, or would you have to scrub it really hard.

  • What is best for wiping away gunk? I’m embarrassed to say my oven is a mess, a sponge is not going to be effective. At least not at first. I thought about newspaper, or perhaps a roll of paper towels?

  • I have placed a bowl of ammonia in a large garbage bag with my grill grates and let them sit over night or 24 hours. This works well. I’m going to give it a try. My oven isn’t that dirty so we’ll see.

  • I have breathing problems and the ammonia would really provoke an attack. What could be used in its place? Also would a mask help avoid the ammonia fumes?

  • Hi Jillie

    Is there anything i can substitute for ammonia, even if less effective, because i dont know where to buy it. I’m from UK living abroad, i wouldn’t know where to go for it.

    Thanks

  • I trust you so much, Jillee, and am forever singing your praises. That having been said, I’m stuck on this: since the gas and pilot light are off, tell me what’s behind preheating to 150 degrees?

  • Thankyou so much for this! our oven need to be fix because the self cleaning system stop working yesterday. Tried this last night and this makes so much easier to clean the oven. Thankyou again!

  • I have a self cleaning smooth cooktop stove. I love this stove and the double oven but…the whole circuit board went out and I could not cook anything until the part came in. After being fixed and everything working again, my friend, the appliance fix it guy, told me I should Never use the self cleaning cycle but clean the oven by hand washing. What??
    He told me that this is such a common problem and if I used the self cleaning option I would be seeing him again to come and fix the stove.
    Jillee always has an answer for everything and I’m going to try this method with ammonia. Jillee always seems so excited to clean that you find yourself wanting to clean.

    • My husband repairs commercial kitchen equipment and he also does not warn me to use the self cleaning option. It damages the equipment. Thankfully he will clean the oven!

    • If you can keep your pets out of the kitchen, then it will be okay! :-) The fumes won’t harm your pet, as long as you don’t mix the ammonia with bleach – mixing the two could be toxic for both pets and humans.

  • Great tip for cleaning ovens; a terrible job otherwise! Also, I admire your courage to go public with your addiction. You inspire others to follow in your path. God bless you!

  • Thank you for this timely post! I had tenants who moved out this past weekend and left the suite very dirty. I’m heading over there today to start the cleaning process and NOW I think I’m actually looking forward to it! Well, maybe just a tiny bit, but the oven is just black inside and the thought of tackling that tough cleaning job was really bothering me. I can’t wait to see how this ammonia trick improves my day (and my oven!).

  • Do you have any secrets for cleaning the top of the oven? My opinion is, that is the toughest part, cleaning around the elements. Is there anything for keeping it clean, like the oven mats?

    • Turning off the pilot light should actually be very easy! Just do a google search for turning off the pilot light for whatever type of oven you have. :-)

  • I love a lot of your ideas,but unfortunately, I cannot use ammonia due to the fact that I have exotic pet birds in a small apt.and they cannot be around certain odors,including but not limited to bleach and all sorts of cleaning agents. I can only use white vinegar and peroxide 3 % or food grade of 35% to clean. my tile floor and toilet and shower stall.I also use it with blue dawn,as I can only use all natural products around my birds.I haven’t figured out what natural products to use in my oven yet except brillo pads.

  • Hi Jillee, I remember you mentioned something about cleaning those circular black stovetop plates by soaking them in ziplock bags? I thought you said to use ammonia, but I did and it didn’t really work so I think I’m leaving out a step, please remind me?
    Thanks!

  • Can I use this method to clean a ge microwave/convection oven that is electric? I have tried every ss cleaner on the market even angry mama. GE has been. Of no help and when the technician came for another reason the surface is scratched and the stains remain. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Thank you for the post. Most useful and timesaving. Regarding the side supporting racks and the horizontal racks they clean super easily with the ammonia and hot water overnight method.

  • This method is definitely easier than having to get your hands dirty with commercial products and scrubbing like crazy for hours. Really splendid idea :)
    I’d like to mention, however, that professional technicians exist for a reason. They disassemble the oven’s removable parts and clean everything individually. While this is not mandatory, it’s definitely a great way to have your oven cleaned. Just my two cents.

    • If you have a self-cleaning oven use it before the oven becomes too much of a mess. It will not harm the oven IF you READ the instructions. Every oven is different.
      For the counter top oven,which I usually use as there are just the two of us, I give it a good scrubbing with a Brillo/SOS pad and wipe the inside with a wet cloth, several times to be sure to remove any leftover pieces of metal. I tried the ammonia trick to no avail.

  • Thank you thank you thank you.
    I was ready to throw out the oven in the house that we rent out! But after reading your post, I immediately tried it and the oven looks brand new. This was after I already spent 3 days trying to clean the oven with several store bought oven cleaners.
    (I live in South Africa)

  • ” If you have a gas oven, make sure the pilot light is out and the gas has been turned off before you start cleaning. ”

    I have a gas oven. How do I make sure the pilot light is out? I’ve never had to turn the pilot light out. I don’t know where it is.

    Thank you!

    • Self cleaning ovens leave a nasty smell in the house. The chemical smell made me nervous. Also, the oven isn’t always the cleanest. The homemade cleaner seems much better.

    • If you do some Google research, you will find that even though many manufacturer’s offer a self-cleaning function on stoves, it is often a bad idea to use it. I know, sounds weird since it is given to us as an option on the stove. But, many appliance repairman and the likes disuade people from using this function because it is said to wear on the oven prematurely causing problems in the long run…shorter life span. It has something to do with it getting to such a very high temperature (I like something like 550) for a long extended time.

      All I know is that I do not use it on my new oven. I had used it on our old one several times after big messes, that oven did not last us but a couple years. I don’t take the chance now, oven’s are expensive whereas cleaners and a little elbow grease are cheap and easy to be had! I also line both my ovens (we have a double oven model) with the non-stick liners…beware though…often times you can NOT put the liner on the very bottom surface of the oven. It needs to do on the lowest rack.) Anyways, my oven always stays pretty clean with these liners. It catches any drips or splatters. I just wipe out the inside once a month or so and its sparkling clean again.

      • I had 3 service calls during the first 5 years with new oven. Last repairman said oven heats to 600, too hot for wiring behind the handle which turns it on & locks. Wires burned, each svc. call $100 range. I now grumble but clean it myself. Expensive lesson.

      • I had to have a repairman come to the rescue after running a self cleaning cycle on my gas stove ruined the control panel and permanently locked the door! He said he has always advised his customers not to use the self-cleaning function because temperature is just too high.

  • How do I clean inside the oven door. There is no way to access it yet something got in there and left a long nasty streak. Because the oven is self cleaning, we are hesitant to remove the bolts and open it to access the inside. The instruction book and the website do not address the issue of inside the door. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thank you.

  • I have asthma, also, and one of the last things you want to expose your lungs to is fabric softener liquid, or dryer sheets! (or any other artificially scented stuff). Try vinegar and baking soda instead.

  • I have a gas stove, but no pilot light. It has an electronic ignition. It is 22 years old. This is a great article. I had heard of using ammonia before, but, not the hot water. It makes total sense to me. Thank you for this article. I have learned so much from you. Keep doing what you are doing. It is great!

  • Some ovens have slots on the bottom of the door through which you can manipulate a wire with a cloth on the end of it. Other oven models require that you disassemble the door (not as difficult as it sounds). A search on the internet will give you some good instructional videos.

  • I’d like to use oven mats, as you suggest. Where do you purchase them? We live in a small town so only have a Walmart, and they keep cutting back on their inventory besides. We’ll be going to Colorado Springs next week, though. Perhaps I can find them there.

  • Hi, a great web site, love it! However I have used the following recipe for years after being informed by an elderly lady who swore by it! And it does work, as it is very similar to this one listed.
    One bowl containing Amonia and ordinary Laundry powder, pour boiling water over same, stir. Keep nose and eyes well away from the bowl. Put bowl into warm oven overnight. Preferably after having baked/ cooked tea. Next day simply wipe the oven clean After airing oven for a few minutes first! Your eyes will thank you. Wear gloves, and be prepared to be amazed at the ease of cleaning. Using clean cloths/ wipes and clean warm / hot water rinse the walls etc of the oven to cleanse the amonia and soap residue from them. Turn oven on to dry.

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