Tips for Keeping Your Oven Clean During Cooking

Updated on August 17, 2018
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Science graduate and business advisor, health educator and author, Beth writes articles on a wide variety of subjects.

Casserole cooking helps avoid grease splatter and keeps your oven clean.
Casserole cooking helps avoid grease splatter and keeps your oven clean. | Source

Cook Food in Enclosed Containers

There are few people who look forward to cleaning a greasy oven. Follow a few simple tips and the chore can be minimized. Grease and food spills get onto the walls and shelves of your oven because they have escaped from the dishes during cooking.

As food cooks, liquids including 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 surfaces inside your oven, the aerosol spray cools and the fat content 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 recommend the Pyrex bakeware 2-quart casserole dish with lid. Its straight sides means it does not take much space in the oven relative to its size. The lid stops steam and grease escaping and keeps your lasagne or stew moist and tasty.

Roast Crackling on Meat

If you are 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. If you’re not sure how your oven gets dirty, take a look at the example in the video below.

Ever Wondered How an Oven Gets Dirty?

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.

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.

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!

Don't Use Foil or Metal in Microwave Ovens

You may be reading this article looking for a solution to oven messes in your microwave.

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.

Rice, shrimp, pepper and seafood cooked together in a covered pot. Delicious food made without making a messy oven.
Rice, shrimp, pepper and seafood cooked together in a covered pot. Delicious food made without making a messy oven. | Source

Chore or Fun

How often do you clean your oven?

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A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

Or to translate the old proverb in cooking terms, clean up spills while they are fresh and you will save yourself a lot of hard work later on. As soon as you notice a pot is spilling over, then wipe the oven floor or wall is straightaway. If they are wiped up immediately, most spills can be removed with just plain water. During cooking and for some time after the internal surfaces of your oven are very hot. The longer spills are in contact with them, the more hardened and difficult to remove they become.

How to 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.

Clean Your Oven Regularly

No matter how careful you are, it is likely that 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 proprietary oven cleaners on the market. These tend to be very caustic and must be used with care. When using you should make sure you 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. The video below shows how simple it is to clean oven messes by leaving baking soda on the dirt overnight.

How to Clean Your Oven With Baking Soda

Family 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.

Keep Your Oven in Show Home Condition

Tip
Comment
Cover food during cooking
Stops splashes and spills
Keep a roasting tin on bottom oven shelf
Acts as a drip tray
Line a baking sheet with foil
Provides a disposable lining
Clean spills immediately
Wipes grease away easily
Clean oven regularly
Can use less caustic cleaners
Prevent food taint
Clean oven regularly
Enlist whole family's support
Many hands make light work

Better Tasting Food and Lower Fire Risk

Cooking in a clean oven not only smells better but makes your kitchen a safer place. If grease drips and spills are allowed to remain on oven floor and walls there is a risk that they could 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 a clean oven is not to allow it to get dirty in the first place. Cover food and don’t overfill the containers. The next best way is to clean up any spills as soon as you notice them. Cleaning the oven with baking soda is a cheap and easy way to remove grease build up. If all else fails, the proprietary oven cleaners will shift the most stubborn of oven messes.

Keeping food wrapped during oven cooking prevents greasy splashes. Roast chicken tandoor-style cooked in aluminum foil parcels.
Keeping food wrapped during oven cooking prevents greasy splashes. Roast chicken tandoor-style cooked in aluminum foil parcels. | Source

How to Clean Off Chicken Grease That Has Spilled in the Oven

  1. The easiest way to tackle spilled grease is to remove it while the oven is still warm (but not hot).
  2. Put on protective gloves and make sure pets and children are not nearby.
  3. Use absorbent paper kitchen towel to remove as much of the spill as possible.
  4. Use either caustic soda or a proprietary oven cleaner to remove the remaining fat.
  5. Finally wipe clean the oven surfaces with hot water to remove any chemical residue.

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