This story is part of Try This, CNET's collection of simple tips to improve your life, fast.
Keeping your oven clean with just a little bit of periodic maintenance can go a long way. But since your oven door stays shut most of the time, it's all too easy to ignore the grime building up inside from the drips, spills and crumbs that get baked into the surfaces of the oven. Even if you do notice your oven needs a scrub, the task is tempting to put off: Who wants to deal with noxious cleaning chemicals or the acrid fumes when you turn on the self-cleaner setting?
But cleaning the gunk out of your oven doesn't have to be a grueling and smelly process.
Inspired by housekeeping advice and TikTok hacks, I tried a safe and easy cleaning method on my own oven that enabled me to use basic kitchen staples in lieu of harsh chemicals.
Here's how I got my oven clean. For more tips, here's how to make a chocolate cake in a coffee mug, how to cut a cake without a knife and how to safely pit an avocado.
Which kitchen items can you use to safely clean your oven?
Though my oven hasn't endured much use, its interior was splattered with all kinds of remnants of past bakes. I didn't want to use harsh chemicals, however, to clean the stains and grease, so I tried using three items already in my kitchen: baking soda, vinegar and lemon. The trio of DIY cleaners can help remove stains, loosen grime and gently scrub off the baked-on spills and splatters.
How to clean the inside of your oven safely
Here's what I did to clean my oven with items in my kitchen:
1. Pour 3/4 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of water in a bowl.
2. Stir to form a paste.
3. Dip a sponge into the paste and wipe over the inside surfaces of your oven. I removed the racks to make it easier to reach everywhere.
4. Once you've coated the oven grime with the paste, grab a bowl that can handle some low heat. (Porcelain works.) Pour 1 cup of vinegar into the bowl. (Optional: You can add a bit of lemon juice for some good smells. (I have another good use for lemon juice a few steps down.)
5. Place the bowl at the bottom of the oven. Set your oven to low heat and let it sit for 1 hour.
6. Turn off your oven and wait for it to cool. Remove the bowl. Dampen your sponge and wipe the paste away to reveal a gleaming oven.
7. To help remove stains, I wiped lemon juice over discolored areas of the oven. You don't need to juice the lemon. Cut the lemon in half and wipe one half over the stains and then wipe with a clean sponge.
Looking for more kitchen hacks? We'll show you how to clean your kitchen in under 15 minutes. As the weather heats up, here are eight smart ways to keep cool in the kitchen. Plus, check out these six essential kitchen tools to elevate your cooking for 2022.