How To Clean a Self-Cleaning Oven Without Using the Self-Cleaning Feature

Technology today has made nearly every task automated, even cleaning your oven! While we’re excited about it as well, there’s a twist to this feature – you’ll still have to do some manual cleaning yourself. Manually cleaning an oven that’s designed to self-clean may seem like an impossible task at first, but it’s really as easy as taking eight simple steps to clean a self-cleaning oven without using the self-cleaning feature!

Here are the 8 steps you need to clean a self-cleaning oven without using the self-cleaning feature:

  1. Clear out the sides of the oven and set a towel under it.
  2. Empty the oven and wipe its insides.
  3. Make a thick paste of baking soda, vinegar, and water.
  4. Apply the paste on the interior and let it sit overnight.
  5. Wipe away some paste at intervals.
  6. Wipe away all the paste when the grease lifts.
  7. Clean out the remnants with white vinegar and citrus.
  8. Polish the glass door with diluted vinegar and a cloth.

If you’re wondering how to go through all of these steps, worry no more! The rest of this article will give you all the information you need on how to clean an oven without using the self-cleaning feature. Keep reading!

1. Clear Out the Sides of the Oven and Set a Towel Under It

When you’re planning to manually clean an oven that’s usually self-cleaning, there’s no telling what dirt and grime have gathered inside or around it. If you clean out your oven right in the middle of a bunch of other items, there’s a chance that the dirt coming off will get on those items and create another cleaning problem.

Asides the sanitary caution, chemical oven cleaners are strong chemicals that can be dangerous around flames or if ingested. 

Cleaning products like baking soda and vinegar can also lather to form a mixture you don’t want near your food. To avoid this, you need to get other kitchen items away from your oven.

An oven isn’t the lightest of appliances, so it’s quite unlikely that you can casually move yours out of the kitchen for cleaning. As a compromise, it’s better to clear out all other items around it to offer a decent amount of space as you clean. 

You can also raise it and put a large towel under it to catch any foaming lather.

2. Empty the Oven and Wipe Its Insides

Now that you’ve cleared out your cleaning workspace, it’s time to tackle the real challenge – the greasy insides of the oven. If there are racks, pans, or crockery in your oven, it’s time to take them out. 

The goal should be to clear out the oven until it’s open and airy without damaging any of its internal components.

If any part seems difficult to remove, it’s best not to force it. A self-cleaning oven has super-fragile mechanical and electrical components that work on its automation. If you pull too hard, there’s a chance that you’ll damage one of these parts and cause a whole other problem. 

Clean the Oven’s Contents

With an unclean oven, there’s a chance that the contents are dirty, so it’s best to take out time to carefully clean them. When the oven is blissfully empty, you can start preliminary cleaning by wiping the insides with some paper towels.

Get a strong flashlight to inspect the oven’s interior and gauge how much grime is in it. A rough overview will help you determine what spots to concentrate on while cleaning. 

Scrape Any Grease Clump

If there are any greasy clumps large enough for you to spot, grab a spatula or steel spoon to scrape them off and scoop the debris out before moving on. Some dirt can be incredibly stubborn, so don’t get stressed if it doesn’t come off easily or as cleanly as you’d like. The cleaning agents will help to loosen them up very soon!

The most important part of this stage is wiping the insides thoroughly. This helps to ensure that the cleaning agent can penetrate all the way through when you apply it.

clean a self-cleaning oven without using the self-cleaning feature has to be a manual process

3. Make a Thick Paste of Baking Soda, Vinegar, and Water

There are a ton of options for cleaning agents you could choose, but it’s best to start with a safe but effective one like baking soda and vinegar.

Baking soda is amphoteric, so it can neutralize any acidic or alkaline dirt in the oven, causing them to come off much easier.

 Another huge advantage of baking soda as a cleaning agent is that it’s edible, so in the unlikely chance that some of it get left over in the oven, no food is getting poisoned.

Unlike the harsher chemical agents, you can get great results from baking soda without worrying about having flammable, potentially dangerous chemicals in your kitchen. Even if you need to bring in the chemicals later, baking soda would have done a job good enough to make that process much easier. 

To make your baking soda cleaning paste, here are the items you’ll need:

  • A medium-sized bowl
  • A quarter cup of baking soda
  • A quarter-cup of vinegar
  • A spoon or spatula
  • A pair of rubber gloves

Pour the baking soda into the bowl, and add tiny portions of water at intervals. The soda has to form a thick paste that sits on the walls of the oven, so you should be careful about how much water you add. To increase its penetrating power, add some vinegar to the mixture.

4. Apply the Paste to the Interior and Let It Sit Overnight

When the paste is mixed and ready, you can dive headfirst into taking off some nasty grease with it! Here’s a downside of the baking soda paste compared to other cleaners – it doesn’t offer an instant fix.

You’ll need to apply the paste everywhere on the interior of the oven, then leave it to settle for 15 minutes to a couple of hours. Use a spoon or spatula to apply the paste on the oven, and take care to cover every part, especially those with a massive buildup of dirt and grime.

The baking soda paste works best if you let it stay on for a while, so many prefer to leave the paste in their ovens overnight. Baking soda isn’t nearly strong enough to damage your oven, so this is a safe hack to use!

5. Wipe Away Some Paste at Intervals

You won’t always have the luxury of enough time to leave the cleaning paste overnight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t clean your self-cleaning oven! The minimum amount of time you should leave the paste in the oven is 15 minutes. 

If you can’t leave it on for much longer than that, put on some rubber gloves or get a paper towel and wipe a tiny section of the grimiest area in the oven.

As you wipe, check carefully to see if the dirt is lifting. If the worst areas have lifted well enough to become easy to clean, all sections should do quite well.

It’s crucial not to hastily wipe off the paste if the dirt isn’t lifting properly just yet. In this case, you can reapply the wiped paste or get a new blob from the mixing bowl. Carefully reapply the paste on the smeared area, and set a stopwatch for another 15 minutes. In that time, the paste would have done some more work, so you can recheck.

6. Wipe Away All the Paste When the Grease Lifts

There’s no telling how much time it’ll take for all the grease to properly lift, but it has to happen sometime! When the cleaning paste does enough work that the oven is much easier to clean, you can grab some paper towels and start wiping all of the paste in the interior. 

At this point, the grease, ash, and dirt should come right off with the paste. If the grease isn’t coming off in some sections, you may need to reapply the paste. On the flip side, if you have trouble wiping the paste itself off, you can add some water to help dilute it.

7. Clean Out the Remnants With White Vinegar and Citrus

Baking soda is safe enough to not pose any serious danger if bits of it get left over in the oven. Despite the relative safety, though, you probably don’t want bits of caked baking soda all over your oven. That’s where extra vinegar comes in to work its magic!

When vinegar reacts with baking soda, it foams up and releases carbon dioxide gas in a very noticeable reaction. Pouring extra vinegar into the oven can help to point out the nooks and crannies where baking soda is still hidden so you can clean it out.

Cleaning the Oven With a Citrus Mix

If there are more remnants, you can get some extra cleaning – and air freshening – done with a simple citrus mix. Add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice to one cup of water in a bowl, place it in the oven, and set it on low heat. 

Leave the steam from the lemon juice to evaporate and soak the remnants in all corners of the oven. When you’re satisfied, turn off the heat and leave the door open so it can cool. You can wipe the condensed steam from your clean, citrus-scented oven with paper towels!

8. Polish the Glass Door With Diluted Vinegar and a Cloth

Even when your self-cleaning oven is sparkling clean, it’s difficult to feel proud of your work if the door to its exterior looks grimy. It’s important to take some time to polish the oven door, especially when it’s made of easily smeared glass.

Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Make a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water.
  2. Get a fresh towel or microfiber cloth. Dip the cloth into the mixture and use it to carefully polish both sides of the glass.
  3. If the vinegar smell lingers, you can redo the citrus steaming to dispel it and get your fresh smell back. Otherwise, cooking with the oven will get rid of it pretty quickly as well.

Why You May Need To Manually Clean Your Self-Cleaning Oven

You may be wondering why you need to manually clean an oven that’s self-cleaning in the first place. Every machine, even at the best of automation, will need some form of human maintenance. 

A manual cleaning session is your way of maintaining your oven even when it can clean itself. The reasons you may need to do this cleaning include:

  • Ash and grime buildup in the self-cleaning system. Most self-cleaning ovens work by burning up the remnants to small, crisp bits. There are times when some of that ash or residue is left behind, especially when it’s oily and sticky. Manual cleaning helps to clear out these missed bits.
  • Manual maintenance. If the leftover debris isn’t manually cleaned regularly, it can affect the functioning of other parts, including the self-cleaning feature.
  • A broken self-cleaning feature. If there’s a situation where the self-cleaning feature isn’t working for some reason, it’s up to you to clean out the oven! It’s important to know how to do that in the event of an emergency.


You’ve got all you need to clean a self-cleaning oven without using the self-cleaning feature! Edible cleaners like baking soda, vinegar, and citrus juice are best, but you can also explore the high-powered oven cleaners. Remember to clean out every bit of whatever cleaner you choose to keep your oven safe for food!

Joe Carrow

Reno addict, keen gardener, and baker. I  started blogging in 2012 and have been hooked ever since!

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