Non Toxic Methods to Clean Your Oven

Non Toxic Methods to Clean Your Oven

Ovens get dirty. Sauces bubble, drip and spill over. Crumbs accumulate. Grease spatters everywhere. A well loved, well used oven is also a dirty oven.

The easiest thing could be to lock the oven door, turn on the self-cleaning cycle and let the magic happen.

Self cleaning cycles conjure up images of little elves scrubbing down your oven, doesn’t it? But the reality is, self cleaning ovens use really high heat to burn off the mess inside. These cycles take many hours, and by the time the cycle is complete and the door unlocks .. all you have left is ash to wipe up.

What so bad about self-cleaning?

Self cleaning ovens are commonly lined with Teflon, a non-stick material made with chemicals known collectively as PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals). Temperatures reach 900 degrees or more during a cleaning cycle, releasing toxic gases from the chemicals in both the non-stick lining and insulation layers of the oven.

Just how toxic are the gasses that are released?

Toxic enough to kill birds within a few minutes. Or induce polymer fume fever in humans. Informally known as Teflon flu …

“Polymer fume fever or fluoropolymer fever, also informally called Teflon flu, is an inhalation fever caused by the fumes released when polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, known under the trade name Teflon) is heated to between 300 °F (149 °C) and 450 °F (232 °C). When PTFE is heated above 450 °F (232 °C) the pyrolysis products are different and inhalation may cause acute lung injury. Symptoms are flu-like (chills, headaches and fevers) with chest tightness and mild cough. Onset occurs about 4 to 8 hours after exposure to the pyrolysis products of PTFE. A high white blood cell count may be seen and chest x-ray findings are usually minimal.”  – Wikipedia

Off the shelf oven cleaners aren’t great either. Loaded with chemicals that are harmful to your health, The Washington Coalition recently said

“The most acutely dangerous cleaning products are corrosive drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners.” Read more here>

Most oven cleaners contain sodium hydroxide (lye) or sulphuric acid to react with the grease in your oven. The chemical fumes not only get into your lungs and linger in your home as you spray and scrub the inside of your oven, residue gets left behind exposing you again the next time you turn on the oven. Then there’s the environmental hazards that are introduced as you wash the cleaner down the drain.

Some examples of common oven cleaner ingredients include:

Diethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether: Suspected of causing reproductive toxicity, cardiovascular or blood toxicity, kidney toxicity, and neurotoxicity according to sources compiled by Scorecard (

Triethanolamine: Suspected of causing immunotoxicity, respiratory toxicity, skin or sense organ toxicity, and asthma according to sources compiled by Scorecard (

2-(2-Butoxyethoxy)Ethanol: Suspected of causing skin or sense organ toxicity, according to sources compiled by Scorecard (

There are of course alternative methods to clean your oven with ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen already:

Baking soda and vinegar method:
You’ll need: ½ cup of baking soda, water, white vinegar, gloves, sponge, spray bottle (but not required)

  1. Take out the racks, pizza stone, thermometer and anything else you may have hiding in your oven.
  2. Make a paste with a ½ cup of baking soda and a few tablespoons of water.
  3. Coat the inside of the oven with the baking soda paste, using your gloved hand.
  4. Let it sit over night
  5. Using a spray bottle or sponge, add vinegar to all surfaces. Let the mixture bubble and fizz with the baking soda paste for 2-5 minutes.
  6. With a damp sponge, wipe out the oven using the scrubby side as needed.
  7. Do a final rinse and wipe-down.

Dish soap, baking soda & vinegar method:
You’ll need ¼ cup of dish soap, ½ cup baking soda, ½ cup coarse sea salt, warm water and white vinegar. 

  1. Make a past with the soap, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Cover the oven using your gloved hand
  3. Let sit overnight
  4. Using a spray bottle or sponge, add a small amount of vinegar to all surfaces. Let the mixture bubble and fizz with the soap & baking soda paste for 2-5 minutes.
  5. With a damp sponge, wipe out the oven using the scrubby side as needed.
  6. Final rinse with warm water

Replace the racks, pizza stone, etc… and post a selfie with your sparkly oven. Seriously, you’ll want to share this!



About GoodGuide Team

GoodGuide's mission is to provide consumers with the information they need to make better shopping decisions. The team behind creating this blog content includes GoodGuide's science and product teams, industry experts, and guest bloggers.
This entry was posted in Environmental Issues, Health Issues and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Non Toxic Methods to Clean Your Oven

  1. Vera Peyton says:

    Great recipes! And the information about the self-cleaning cycle is so helpful too. Cleaning the oven is my sister’s nightmare and she often uses the self-cleaning function. I’m trying to explain how harmful this can be for her family and how better it is to use natural and non toxic solutions for cleaning the oven. I’m definitely recommending your post to her and to some friends too. Thank you for the great information!

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