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Tips for Keeping Your Oven Clean During Cooking

Scientist and author, Beth is also a keen home cook. She enjoys trying new recipes.

Keep Your Oven Clean and Spatter-Free

  1. Cover food during cooking; stops splashes and spills.
  2. Keep a roasting tin on bottom oven shelf; acts as a drip tray.
  3. Line a baking sheet with foil; provides a disposable lining.
  4. Clean spills immediately; grease wipes away easily.
  5. Clean oven regularly; can use less caustic cleaners.
  6. Enlist whole family's support; many hands make light work.
Some lidded cooking pots can be used in the oven or on the hob.

Some lidded cooking pots can be used in the oven or on the hob.

1. Cook Food in Enclosed Containers

There are not many people who enjoy cleaning a greasy oven. But once you understand why spatters happen, you can almost eliminate the problem. Grease and food spills cover surfaces inside your oven because they have escaped from the dishes during cooking.

As food cooks, liquids and fats in the dish vaporize. It may look like steam, but the water vapor coming off a roast joint of meat is actually a fine spray which contains a high proportion of grease. As it hits the walls and floor inside your oven, the aerosol spray cools and the fat condenses out. The way to stop this happening is to cover food whilst it is being cooked. Use a lidded casserole dish or covered glass bakeware to keep your oven clean. I use the Pyrex bakeware 2-quart casserole dish with lid. Its straight sides means it doesn't take much space in the oven relative to its size. The lid stops steam and grease escaping and keeps your recipe moist and tasty.

Roast Crackling on Meat

If you're cooking a roast meal, you may want to achieve a crisp crackling on the roast. The only way to achieve this (and minimize grease deposits on your oven walls) is to partially cook the meat first whilst it is covered with aluminum foil. Then after about three quarters of the normal cooking time, you can remove the foil and allow the final 15 to 20 minutes of direct heat to crisp up the crackling.

Safety Warning: Don't Use Foil or Metal in Microwave Ovens

Do not use metal drip trays or aluminum foil liners in a microwave oven. You will cause a short circuit and ruin your appliance. Use a plastic or silicone baking sheet instead. Make sure the sheet is microwave-safe before buying.

A clean oven is more energy efficient, and helps extend the life of the appliance.

A clean oven is more energy efficient, and helps extend the life of the appliance.

2. Keep Your Spare Roasting Tray in the Oven

This tip provides the perfect solution to two irritating problems. The first is where to keep the spare roasting tray that came free when you bought the oven? The second is how to make cleaning up the grease and food spills a little easier?

If you keep the roasting tray at the bottom of your oven during cooking, any spills which do occur will be caught. It’s a ready-made drip tray. It’s much easier to take the soiled roasting tin over to the sink to clean it than to struggle with cleaning the base of your oven in situ.

3. An Alternative Spill-Tray

If you don’t have a roasting tray or your oven is too small to have a spare bottom shelf, there is an alternative. You can place each individual baking dish onto a baking sheet which has a lipped edge or rim. That way if your casserole overflows, the drips will be caught before they hit the hot surface of the oven floor. I find a Good Cook cookie sheet is ideal for this purpose.

If you really want to save on elbow grease, line the baking sheet with aluminum foil. Then all you have to do to clean the sheet is to throw away the foil liner. Simple!

4. How to Remove Chicken Grease Splatters

The easiest way to tackle spilled grease is to remove it while the oven is still warm (but not hot). Wear protective gloves and make sure pets and children are not nearby. Use absorbent paper kitchen towel to remove as much of the spill as possible.

Then use either caustic soda or a proprietary oven cleaner to remove the remaining fat. Finally wipe clean the oven surfaces with hot water to remove any chemical residue.

5. Clean Your Oven Regularly

No matter how careful you are, over time some soiling of your oven will occur. The way to save yourself a lot of hard work is to clean your oven regularly before the grease and grime becomes caked onto the surfaces.

There are many oven cleaners on the market. These tend to be very caustic and must be used with care; follow the instructions on the label like wearing protective gloves and working in a well-ventilated area. (N.B. Proprietary oven cleaners should not be used on self-cleaning ovens. If in doubt, check with your oven's manufacturer before using.)

By cleaning your oven often and tackling it before it becomes a nightmare, you should be able to use less dangerous cleaning materials. A good standby is to use ordinary household baking soda.

Keep Cleaning For a Spotless Oven

First attempt - Start simply with hot water, scourer pad and washing-up liquid

Next attempt - Try with cold water, baking soda, wire wool and elbow grease.

Final attempt - Use a proprietary oven cleaner, wear rubber gloves and work in well-ventilated area.

How to Clean Your Oven With Baking Soda

6. Teamwork Makes Cleaning Quicker

If everyone lends a hand when it comes to doing housework, each chore becomes less onerous. If you are lucky, you may find that hidden within your household, there is one person who gets great satisfaction from making the inside of the oven sparkling clean. The only way to find this out is to make sure everyone knows how to clean it.

A knock-on effect of this is that whenever anyone uses the oven, they will learn to make as little mess as possible as they could be the one tasked with removing the messy spills.

Better Tasting Food and Lower Fire Risk

Cooking in a clean oven smells better and makes your kitchen a safer place. If grease drips and spills are allowed to build up on the oven floor and walls, they could potentially ignite and cause a house fire. Although this rarely happens, why take the risk? Even if the grease only smolders it will taint the taste of any food cooked in the oven.

The best way to keep your oven clean is not to allow it to get dirty in the first place. Cover food and don’t overfill the containers. Clean up any spills as soon as you notice them. Use baking soda to clean the oven; this is a cheap and easy way to remove grease build up. If all else fails, a proprietary oven cleaner will shift stubborn residues.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.