Homemade Oven Cleaner - Dr. Axe

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Homemade Oven Cleaner


Homemade Oven Cleaner - Dr. Axe

Keeping your oven clean is very important because the burnt, baked-on food can release carcinogens as it continues to burn. Off-the-shelf oven cleaners contain a lot of toxins and if it comes in contact with your skin, you could suffer, since it can eat through your skin.

Natural oven cleaning products and green cleaning products can help, but a little baking soda and vinegar may be all you need for a homemade oven cleaner. Still not convinced? Let’s dig into the “why” a little bit.

Lye and ammonia are commonly found in oven cleaners and will break through the skin, remove layers of skin and the fumes can easily make their way into your lungs. Beyond that, once you have cleaned the oven, guess what happens. Those fumes linger and get even worse when you use the oven the bake your next delicious pie. In fact, that pie will end up completely contaminated with those toxins! You may not taste it, but they are there.

Research confirms that Easy-Off oven cleaner and Mr. Muscle oven and grill cleaner, for example, contain poisons that can cause difficulty in breathing due to the fumes as well as swelling in the throat. Some may experience severe pain in the throat, burning in the nose, eyes, ears, lips or tongue and even vision impairment. The stomach and intestines may be affected with abdominal pain, blood in the stool, burns that develop holes in the esophagus, and vomiting with blood. Fainting, low blood pressure and organ damage can occur, and the skin may get burns and holes in it, in addition to general irritation. (1

There are a few specific ingredients that are known to cause serious health issues, specifically asthma and damage to the reproductive system, such as monoethanolamine (MEA), glycol ethers and alkyl phenol ethoxylates (APEs). (2)


Some others ingredients that you should be aware of are butane, diethylene glycol monobutyl ether (this is also found in many auto care products, at-home hair dyes, and stains or glosses for paint and wood products), monoethanolamine (MEA) and, as noted earlier, sodium hydroxide (lye). All of these ingredients can cause burns to eyes and skin upon contact, as well as burns to the mouth, throat and stomach if swallowed. (3Butane is one of the more harmful volatile substances to inhale and can cause something called ‘sudden sniffing death’ — cardiac arrhythmia/arrest when person is stressed or does heavy exercise during or soon after being exposed to butane.

Lye, one of the main ingredients, is so powerful that it can decompose carcasses! Sodium or potassium hydroxide is used to break down the tissue of animal carcasses and even deceased humans. That’s pretty scary. And because it’s cheap, it’s found in tons of household cleaners. (4

Some ovens contain a self-cleaning feature, and this can definitely help you avoid dangerous toxins. However, you still need to make sure you are following the directions carefully when using the feature since it can produce carbon monoxide, especially if there is a lot of baked on food in your oven.

I know plenty of people who prefer to avoid the self-cleaning feature and clean their ovens with my homemade oven cleaner instead. However, if you decide to use the self-cleaning feature, the North Texas Poison Center recommends  leaving the home during the self-cleaning cycle because the Teflon coating inside the oven can release fumes when at high temperatures. The self-cleaning feature usually takes the oven to about 600 degrees — high enough to release those fumes. If inhaled, the fumes can cause flu-like symptoms and difficulty breathing. And don’t forget your pet! Pets can also experience these problems, too. (5

Homemade Oven Cleaner

You will need the following:

  • glass bowl
  • a pastry brush or similar
  • scrub sponge
  • spoon
  • gloves

First, take out the oven racks. You will need to clean them separately in your sink.

Place the castile soap and baking soda into your bowl and mix. Castile soap is a favorite of mine since it’s made with pure, chemical-free ingredients. It can gently wash your face, provide sparkling window cleaning results or offer a good scrub for the tub! For now, let’s focus on oven cleaning.

Baking soda is another great ingredient for oven cleaning, offering the abrasive texture to help remove stubborn baked-on food. You can even add a little baking soda to your dish washing cycle to help clean your dishes. Baking soda is a nahcolite, containing sodium bicarbonate, which is what helps with the cleansing process.

Now add the vinegar and orange essential oil and blend, adding water until you get a nice, thick paste-like consistency. Vinegar is antibacterial and makes for a perfect household cleaning product. Orange essential oil is a great addition, not only for a nice scent, but it’s also antibacterial and contains powerful antimicrobial compounds called terpenes. 

Let’s apply this homemade oven cleaner! Using your pastry brush, brush on the homemade oven cleaner until you have coated the entire surface. Allow it to sit for about 6–8 hours or overnight works well. It will foam up just a bit, which is normal.

After you have allowed it to do its work, it’s time to wipe it clean. Using another bowl filled with water, take your sponge and begin wiping the oven to reveal the clean surface. Use the bowl of water to clean the sponge each time you wipe, but you may need to change the water a few times.

Homemade Oven Cleaner

Total Time: 3 minutes
Serves: 1 application


  • 2 tablespoons castile liquid soap
  • 1⅓ cup baking soda
  • 6 drops orange essential oil (optional)
  • ¼ cup organic white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • water


  1. In a glass bowl, blend all ingredients, using the water to help form a thick paste.
  2. Brush onto the oven surface until completely coated.
  3. Allow it to sit for about 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Wear your gloves and wipe clean using a sponge and clean water.

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  1. Jlz on

    No carb and vinegar instantly react with each other and cancel each other out
    It’s an acid combining with a base science 101

  2. Barbara on

    Will this work on a continuous clean oven? The interior has a porous surface and I don’t usually have to clean it, but it is dropping black junk in my food so I need to do something.

  3. Glenda on

    Dear Dr Axe
    If you put aluminium foil on the bottom rack it will catch most of the goo that would end up on the bottom of the oven. Is there any toxicology from the foil?

  4. Sad on

    When he isn’t giving out erroneous and dangerous advice on health, he gives erroneous, wasteful advice on cleaning – baking soda + vinegar will cancel each other out, rendering this useless. Unless you count a “fun” “volcano” as the vinegar comes in contact with the soda. I can not imagine he has stock in every company, so I can only imagine he is content to send his followers on wild goose chases. No one makes it through that much school without understanding basic chemistry.

  5. Barbara Stout on

    Before painting on the cleaner, take a large pot of boiling water. Turn the oven on to 300 for 1 hr. Let the steam start the process. Let oven cool. Then start the cleaner process

  6. Joyce Finn on

    This method is bunk. I followed the directions to the letter and used it on my oven, which by the way, was not that dirty. It didn’t remove the grime. It will take many more applications to remove even the lightest baked on grime. It’s a cheap method, but not very effective. I can’t use chemical cleaners due to the fact that the last time I used them they almost killed. Very disappointed.

  7. Elan on

    Dr. Axe: I just LOVE your website. So many amazing articles, tremendously great natural health resources and wonderful recipes too. Thanks :)

  8. Gloria on

    Yeah I wish it worked. I’ve tried the baking soda mix for my barely dirty oven. It was a bust!
    Maybe because I didn’t have castille soap (which basically baby soap) in it! I wish everyone good luck!

  9. Alesha Henson on

    I use a recipe similar to this, and it works great. Baking soda and vinegar is also a good combination from my experience. I would like to mention that castile soap is made from lye and oil. Liquid Castile soap is made from potassium hydroxide. Once it goes through the saponification process with oil it creates a cleansing salt, which is very good for cleaning. Lye is naturally found in wood ash, specifically from the ashes of fruit trees. Although, it is not found in such large amounts as is what is found in the types of cleaners that you mentioned. It is wonderful to have this information shared with others. May we all live cleaner and greener. Thank you.

    • Peter on

      Hi Alesha, I did so investigation on the internet regarding “Liquid Castile soap being made from potassium hydroxide.” This was concern to me as it seem to contradict what Dr Axe said above. What I discovered was you need to be discerning when buying Liquid Castile Soap and look at each brand’s ingredient list. I found a brand called Dr Bronner’s Almond Liquid Castile soap which ingredient list reads as follows; Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Natural Almond Fragrance, Citric Acid, Tocopherol
      ** None remains after saponifying oils into soap and glycerin
      * Certified Fair Trade Ingredients
      So the potassium hydroxide is no longer in the ingredients when a person uses it. I feel great this being the case! I love Dr Axe’s messages and am looking forward to making and trying out his Homemade Oven Cleaner, I feel it’s going to be good. Gratitude to all.


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