Toxic Oven Cleaners — How Do You Avoid Them and Still Keep Your Oven Clean?

Is There Such a Thing as a Fast, Effective Green Oven Cleaner?

It’s easy to find a green cleaner for moping floors and wiping down the cabinets.   But cleaning the oven is another matter. When it comes to cleaning weeks’ worth of baked-on grime, we have traditionally turned to those harsh but highly-effective products used by our mothers: Easy-Off or Mr. Muscle.  A quick peek at the material safety data sheet reads: DANGER. CORROSIVE. CAUSES EYE AND SKIN BURNS.  HARMFUL OR FATAL IF SWALLOWED.  Not even riding on the same train as green!  Is there an eco-friendly alternative?

Although I now have a self-cleaning oven, I once had a vintage 1950s range with an enamel interior, which required a heavy-duty cleaning product, along with a fair amount of elbow grease.  While cleaning my vintage oven one day, I noticed that when I accidentally dripped the oven cleaner onto the oven-warmer drawer handle, it instantly pitted and discolored the finish.  I was never able to repair the damage, but it got me wondering about the toxicity of the product I was using around food, my family, and myself.  “What kind of  ingredients pitted metal and “ate” linoleum tiles?” I wondered.  What was I breathing. . . as I stuck my head in the oven for a good, long scrub-fest?  What was I absorbing through my skin when I got the cleaner on my arms, beyond my rubber gloves?  Honestly, I don’t ever want to ask questions like that, let alone be using such products in my home.

Using harsh oven cleaners had become as issue for us at Maid to Clean, as well.  We have always used gentle, eco-friendly products like vinegar and baking soda.  The tough baked-on grime of our clients’ ovens, however, presented a problem.  Typically, we have only two or three hours to clean when we visit a client’s home — not enough time to leave a baking soda paste on an oven overnight.  Thus, the question was this:  where can we find a product strong enough to clean oven grease and grime in an hour, but gentle enough for homes with babies, pets, and family members with delicate respiratory systems (like allergy sufferers and asthmatics)?

We decided it was time for us to go on a mission:  to test-drive some products, and find a green cleaner powerful enough to do the job, but gentle enough to be considered eco-friendly.  To kick-start the mission, I sat down and searched the internet — exhaustively — reading product safety sheets, talking to consumer hotlines, and gathering data.  While there are a good number of products that advertise themselves as green oven cleaners, we encountered some problems:

  • Was the product truly green, or did it just make the claim?
  • If the product was eco-friendly, was it strong enough to clean an oven in an hour?
  • Who stocks the product?  How do I get my hands on it?

The test drive started with ordering two ostensibly impressive products directly from the distributor.  Others we ordered from a central source at Amazon.com.  (Ace Hardware stocked a product, but the other box stores offered nothing green specifically for ovens.)  As the products arrived, we distributed them to our cleaning supervisors with instructions to evaluate and report back.  These are the products that we tested:

  • 1st Enviro Safety Inc’s Organic Cleaner/Degreaser (1stEnviroSafety.com)
  • Natural Grill and Oven Cleaner by Restore the Earth (Restoreproducts.com)
  • Carbona Clean It! Oven Cleaner (Amazon.com)
  • Earth Friendly Products Orange Plus Complete Oven & Grill Cleaner
  • Natural Grill and Oven Cleaner (Acehardwareoutlet/Amazon)
  • Sunshine Makers 60014 Simple Green BBQ Grill and Microwave Cleaner (Geroy’s/Amazon).

Stay tuned to view our results.  You’ll be surprised.  We were.

2 comments so far

  1. Alex James on

    YES anything you need a pair of gloves and a mask for to clean the oven is not a good sign. Our powder cleaner is a safe alternative made from natural minerals.

  2. Los Angeles Maids on

    I agree. It is hard to clean ovens. you need to be patient and can handle persistent rubbing of hands inside the oven to successfully clean it.


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