For those without a self-cleaning oven, this odious chore usually requires nasty and toxic sprays that should only be handled by a fully outfitted HAZMAT squad. But there is a better and greener way to keep your oven sparkling clean. Here are a few tips taken from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Cleaning, by Mary Findley:

  • Use tools like sponges and plastic scrapers and products such as vinegar or baking soda. You will also need an orange-based concentrated cleaner, but be sure to pick one that doesn’t contain petroleum distillates.
  • Start by scraping as much caked-on gunk from the bottom of the oven as possible.
  • Make a paste with the orange concentrate and the baking soda, and spread the paste inside the oven, starting on the bottom and working upward; let sit for at least 30 minutes.
  • Wipe off the residue paste with paper towels or old newspapers; then clean the inside of the oven with a terry cloth soaked in vinegar, repeating as needed.
  • Rinse all interior surfaces again using water and a sponge.
  • Turn on the oven for 10 minutes; but turn it off immediately if you see smoke. Let cool, and rinse again with vinegar, followed by water.
  • To prevent future spills, cover pans in the oven if possible. Do not line the oven bottom with aluminum foil, because its byproducts could seep into your food.