Make Your Own Inexpensive Natural Oven Cleaner

Commercial oven cleaner is one of the most toxic cleaning products that you can use. Some can contain lye and ammonia which actually eat your skin (I guess that’s how it eats the residue off your oven, too). The fumes not only get into your lungs and linger in your home, but they stay in your oven once it is “cleaned” and the chemical residues intensify as you bake them into your food. And then there’s the waste that enters the environment with disposal. Eek.

These toxic ingredients are absolutely unnecessary. You can protect yourself, and your family, by making a simple, inexpensive, cruelty-free cleaning paste at home—using natural soap, vinegar, baking soda and if you want, essential oil for a nice fragrance.

Chemicals or not, this is still a job that takes a bit of effort. What you coat the oven with, you will have to wipe out, and that isn’t a walk in the park for some folks. For me, I was amazed how easily the grime wiped off—barely any scrubbing at all. It was fun to watch the unveiling of the clean oven with each wipe. But for those of you who despise cleaning, put a few drops of organic lavender essential oil into your cleaning mixture to calm and relax you as you work. Put on your favorite tunes and envision your oven just like new again. In no time, there it will be, all shiny, glossy and debris-free.

Now, I am being vulnerable here and sharing some ugly truths. This image below was my sad, dirty oven. I tend to create a lot of recipes in that baby, as you know.

I had to get to cleaning it, and soon, but I couldn’t stand the thought of using commercial oven cleaner. So I waited…and waited…and waited….and one day while getting my hair done, I came across a recipe for a natural oven cleaning solution in a magazine. It was so simple, it almost hurt. I had all the ingredients I needed in my house, so I went right home and got to work.

This is the result. Wow!

Paintbrush (I used a pastry brush)
2 medium glass bowls
Scrubber sponge

1/2 cup homemade liquid soap (I used homemade soap nuts liquid)*
1 1/2 cup baking soda
2-4 drops lavender essential oil (you can use any scent you like, or none at all)
1/4 cup organic white vinegar (you can also use apple cider vinegar)
Water as needed to make a “paintable” but thick paste

* If using store-bought soap instead of soap nuts liquid, use 1 tbsp soap.


Let’s Get Started:
Remove your racks from the oven and clean them separately in the sink.

Pour your soap…

and other ingredients into a glass bowl and mix well.

Paint your paste over the entire surface of your oven.

Let it sit for 6-8 hours (overnight works well) and be amazed at how it foams up slightly, just like the creepy chemical kind. You can actually see the grime being lifted off of the oven surface.

Fill a bowl with clean water. Dip your scrubber, wipe and repeat until the oven is as good as new. You may have to change your water bowl a few times, but you can feel good knowing that you aren’t dumping toxic chemicals down the drain.

Now share this simple, inexpensive recipe with your family and friends, they will thank you for it!

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  1. Does something like Dr. Bronner’s count as a natural liquid soap or is it too concentrated?

    • That would definitely work but since it is pretty concentrated I would use 1/3 the amount called for. Let us know if it works!

  2. Nancy McCoy

    Very timely, for me as I made a real mess in my oven the other day. Would it help with the removal if I heated the oven just a little? Any reason why that wouldn’t be a good idea?

    • Hmmm, not sure if heating would help with removal, my guess is it wouldn’t. I think the heat would dry out the liquid that needs to soften the grime. If you try it though, let me know if it works!

  3. darkstar2

    Don’t heat your oven, you don’t need to, this requires a cold oven interior. The baking soda needs to be wet in order to react with the baked on carbon inside your oven. You really don’t need borax, soap or vinegar, the simple baking soda and water alone will work.
    you may need to reapply for tougher stains.

  4. Nicole

    this worked wonders on my gross dirty oven. not sure what the previous owners of this house cooked in there, but it was nasty and now it’s almost like new! thanks so much 🙂

  5. Jordyn

    Can I substitute washing soda for the borax? I recently ran out of borax but I do have washing soda.

    • Hi there Jordyn,
      Just make it without the borax, it still works great. I think washing soda is just baking soda which we already have going in the recipe. Good luck!

  6. Shauna Scarborough

    Thanks for this! It worked fabulously! I tried just baking soda before and it didn’t work. I was determined to find SOMETHING homemade that would work and found this! Yay! I will note though… I didn’t fully read the directions and didn’t have homemade soap and used the full dose of soap using Dawn dishsoap. Whoa! A bit too concentrated. Needless to say.. I was rinsing it off for what seemed like forever ! LOL! I would also note to others.. if using the recipe as is.. it is a good idea to use rubber gloves.. it can be brutal on skin. I also found that scrubbing first with the scrub sponge, followed by using a plastic scraper (like the pampered chef tool) to get the gunk off… Then using the sponge once more, when the gunk is gone… I found that a washrag cleaned up the residue better than the sponge. It didn’t make it so sudsy and rinsed out better than the sponge. again.. if I had read the directions more carefully I probably wouldn’t have the sudsy problem! LOL! I am SO HAPPY with the results! Thanks!

  7. Jessica

    Can I just use dawn? I can’t find a homemade soap..

    • Heather Crosby

      I recommend any natural dish soap you can find (where you recognize the ingredients)— low on chemicals, dyes and synthetic fragrances. Good luck!

  8. melelani

    This may be a dumb question- but…. What happens if you accidentally get the coil wet, or get any of the mixture/paste on it? It’s my first time cleaning an oven and I really don’t want to ruin anything. Thanks!

    • Heather Crosby

      Hi Melelani, there are no dumb questions around here 😉 If you get the coil a bit wet, or some cleaner on it, just wipe it up and dry it off as much as you can (remove the coil if you can—some actually “unplug”). Keep the oven OFF until you are sure it’s dry and wiped clean.

      • Anna

        HI, it says to leave on for 6-8 hours. Would it be okay to leave it on for longer? Overnight?

        • Anna

          Nevermind, you actually state that overnight works well. Thanks

  9. Fallon

    I tried this, worked wonders! Thanks.

  10. Thanks for sharing this Heather! I am inviting my readers to join me in June in the switch from chemical, toxic household cleaners to DIY natural ones. In my search for an oven cleaner, I came across your wonderful website! Instead of making the tutorial myself, I’m going to refer my readers to yours. Why re-invent the wheel right??? I will begin posting my DIY cleaning solutions June 1 and I will let you know when I post about the oven cleaner. You can check it out here.

    • Heather Crosby

      Thanks so much for sharing and trying it out Ashley. Keep us posted on how it goes!

      • patt

        I did this and was surprised at how well it works. need to do it again as I am a real messy cook. thanks

  11. Jenn

    Thanks for this great recipe! I have tried a similar combination before but I found your notes about the kind of soap to use and in what amount very important. Last time I used WAY too much dish soap and it took forever to rinse off, but this time it wiped clean so easily! I also left it over night and had to do very little scrubbing, most of the grime was completely dissolved and just wiped off.
    My oven is back in its happy place and so am I 🙂 Thank you!!

  12. Connie

    I tried this and it worked beautifully, I used a half tbsp of biodegradable dish soap but found I needed to add a little water to get a good paste (I halved the other ingredients for my small oven).

  13. Georgeanne

    Didn’t have any borax and used regular baking soda. Very foaming lost some liquid from this. Also put on top of stove to see if it would take off burnt on mess. Will let you know in morning.

  14. haley

    can this be made and stored for later or is it a use it when you make it kinda thing?
    I don’t have time to make this every time i use it so just curious

    • Heather Crosby

      Hi Haley,
      Great question—yes, you can make this ahead of time, but you’ll want to keep the liquids together in a separate, airtight glass jar (out of sunlight) from the dry ingredients. The magic cleaning power is that chemical reaction that occurs when the wet and dry are mixed together, so only mix them when you are ready to get to cleanin’. x

  15. Sharon

    Some people are commenting on borax. I don’t see it included in your list of ingredients?

    • Heather Crosby

      Hi there Sharon,
      I removed the Borax from the ingredients because the “camps” on Borax are divided and ultimately, this oven cleaner works just fine without it. Hope that helps! H

  16. Neta

    What did I do wrong? I used the exact measurements but i used Dr Brohners–only a couple tablespoons because it is the really concentrated stuff. It went NUTS–like a science experiment–overflowing out of the bowl everywhere! I was still able to apply it to the stove–but as a bubbly solution instead of a paste. Can anyone explain?? Will have to wait and see if it even works!

    • Heather Crosby

      Wow! Neta, there must be something acidic in the Dr. Bronners formula that is activating the baking soda. I would look at the ingredients label and let me know what’s in there. I imagine it worked well though with all that foaming action? 😉 Let us know, H

  17. Diana R

    I am so happy to find your recipe. I used something similar a few years ago on an old oven I had. I received a Nesco roaster with porcelain enamel on it and it has gotten very grimy on the bottom and I have hardly used it. I hate harsh chemicals so I just use dawn and a Dobie sponge to clean things but I can’t get this porcelain pot cleaned and the manufacture suggested cold oven cleaner. The thought of it scares me I remember once using it and my lungs and hands really suffered. I hope this works on my Nesco pot because I refuse to buy oven cleaner but do wish my Nesco would look nicer. I hardly use my oven but have a stain right now that does need to be taken care of. Thanks again so much for posting. Do you think this would work on a Camp Chef camping stove it has painted surfaces?

    • Heather Crosby

      Hi there Diana,
      I say give it a try on your camping stove and be sure to let the mixture sit on the grime long enough before scrubbing. If you try it, let us know how it goes in case other campers are in the same boat 😉 H

  18. Stan

    I just made the paste used one tbsp of Melaluca dish soap since we are reps and they have no oven cleaner with their cleaners, also put some dawn original blue dish soap in too and one tsp of apple cider oil for a nice sent. It’s working, and I’m a professional chef who has always had to use the industrial cleaners which are not just hard on the enviroment but hard on your hands and lungs too. Stan.

  19. Linda

    I’m going to try this for the first time and can hardly wait. The last time I cleaned the oven I told myself…that’s the last time with the poisonous stuff! Yuck! (I’m going to try it in my toaster oven too).

    Couple questions though. Is standard baking soda aluminum free? (I usually use Bob’s Red Mill for brushing my teeth & cooking, and I’d prefer to use the regular, run of the mill baking soda to cut costs).

    Also, does it really matter if I use regular white vinegar vs. organic white vinegar (for the same reason)?

    Oh, and helpful tip for you… I found that placing a rectangular foil pan on the bottom of the oven really helps to keep it a lot cleaner and cuts down on the whole “oven cleaning experience”. I usually cover mine in a sheet of aluminum foil so I can just peel it off and replace it with another one when it gets too dirty.

    Thanks a bunch!

    • Heather Crosby

      Thanks for the tips and the Qs Linda 😉 Standard baking soda is aluminum-free, and you can get the same results with non-organic white vinegar, so give it a try!

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