I’m dressed in my scrubbiest clothes. I have thick rubber gloves on up to my elbows, a week’s worth of newspapers spread out on the floor and every window in the house open. I kiss my loved ones goodbye and kindly ask them to leave the house. I’m going to war…on my oven. As the fumes of the oven cleaner hit my nostrils, they start to burn and I think to myself, “Surely, there is a natural oven cleaner out there?”
I’m not too fussy, just something that doesn’t have a burning hand on the warning label would be nice.
With ghosts of dinners past successfully exorcised from my oven, I head to the computer to look up eco friendly options for oven cleaners.
Turns out there are a number of natural oven cleaner recipes out there. They may require a bit more elbow grease in the end, but at least you don’t have to treat your kitchen like a radioactive waste site while you use them.
Kitchen chemistry: the basics
Though there are a number of recipe variations for natural oven cleaners, it seems like the basic foundation for most of them is baking soda and vinegar. Baking soda is known as a powerful abrasive and odour remover in the world of natural house cleaning products, while vinegar is useful in cutting grease. When combined, these two products undergo a chemical reaction to form carbonic acid, which dissociates quickly into water and carbon dioxide, which is why it forms bubbles.
Citrus is the next common ingredient in eco friendly oven cleaner recipes. Lemon in particular, is well known for cutting grease and it leaves a lovely fresh smell.
ABC highlights a method that uses only water and baking soda in this video of the How To Smart Tip segment:
Getting serious with a natural oven cleaner
This recipe comes from Karyn Siegel-Maier’s book The Naturally Clean Home:
- ½ cup salt
- ¼ cup borax
- 1 box (16 oz.) baking soda
- 1/4 cup water (approximately)
For the spray:
- ¾ cup white vinegar
- 10 drops thyme essential oil
- 10 drops lemon essential oil
Directions: Combine the salt, borax, and baking soda in a bowl. Add just enough water to make a paste. It may take as much as a cup of water to get something of spreadable consistency. Remove the racks from your oven and preheat to 250oF. Turn the oven off and spread the paste on the oven walls either with a gloved hand or with a sponge or cloth. Leave it for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Combine the vinegar and essential oils in a spray bottle. Use the spray on the inside of the oven as you wipe the paste off with a cloth. Problem areas may require a fine steel wool.
There is no doubt that a natural oven cleaner is going to require more muscle to get the job done. However, I think it’s well worth it to know I’m not potentially destroying brain cells due to toxic fumes. Natural cleaners are gentler on the environment and usually far less expensive. They’re also healthier for you and your family, both in terms of toxicity and in terms of the extra calories burned while using them!