Keep Your Oven Clean (Quick Kitchen Tip)

My Grandma’s vintage stove and oven.

Cleaning the oven isn’t fun, especially if you’re spending an hour scrubbing or if you forget to empty the oven before starting the self-cleaning cycle.

Make it easier on yourself. If you’re cooking something with mess-potential, set a baking sheet right under it or on the rack below. You can line the sheet with parchment or aluminum foil. Then you’ll have something to catch the drips, because scraping caramelized sweet potatoes or pie filling off the bottom of the oven is not part of a Happy Thanksgiving.

(Don’t put aluminum foil directly on the bottom of the oven. It’s a safety risk and it can damage your oven.)

True family story: One Thanksgiving morning someone accidently started the self-cleaning cycle while a giant ham was in the oven. The oven locked for a three-hour cycle of high heat, and my brother had to break it open to rescue the ham before it went up in flames. To this day you have to jimmy the handle higher on the left if you want to open the oven door.


About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I did line my oven’s bottom with foil once, a long, LONG time ago as a young bride that didn’t know straight up from down…it DID cause a short and we had to call the repairman. Lesson learned, tho.

    I love your blog and am so glad THE THRIFTY GROOVE sent me over. I am linking up to follow..pls. stop by my place sometime. I’d love to have ya!


  2. Love that story–too funny!

  3. just cleaned my oven yesterday!

  4. I turned the self-clean on without cleaning the spilled butter from the bottom and the flames were flying. As you said, once it’s locked there is nothing you can do but watch. We called the fire dept. but it was out long before they got there. A nice reminder to keep a fire extinguisher close by.


  5. Oh my! I was having such a bummer of a morning, but that ham story really perked and cheered me up. Thanks for the advice.

  6. I just wanted to say how much I love your grandmother’s stove/oven…wish my 1960′s Modern Maid oven/stove looked like that,then I wouldn’t want to get rid of it. :) Love your blog,too. :)

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  7. Oh no – what a Thanksgiving story!


    steadymom´s last post…Steady Thought for the Day

  8. it really looks like a granny oven. nice.

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  9. Cassandra Smith says:

    My first house had an oven almost exactly like that, except the doors opened upwards instead of out. It was wild.

  10. That is the most beautiful stove ever.

  11. Sandra Gonzales says:

    Love the ham doodle!

  12. Love the vintage oven. And the ham story ~ that’s hilarious, although I’m sure that wasn’t the case that day.

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  13. That ham story cracked me up! I can totally see this happening in my family! I bet there was a little scrambling trying to figure out what to do! You made my day. I’m still smiling!

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  14. Pardon my ignorance, but why is it not good to line the bottom of your oven with foil? It is something both my mom and mother-in-law have done for years and I do to and we have never had problems. Just wondering!

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  15. One Thanksgiving we went to my Great Aunt’s house. She was probably too old to be hosting a Thanksgiving, but she insisted on having us all over. As a little girl, I watched her put some meat in the oven on the Styrofoam Trays that the meat comes on in the store. I didn’t say anything because I thought she was older and knew what she was doing…

    My grandma noticed something was wrong when the oven started smoking as the styrofoam started melting all over the element.

    Needless to say, it was a mess to clean up… we got a bucket of chicken to eat for lunch, and Aunt Adel never hosted Thanksgiving again.

  16. My lawschool roommate and I once hosted a dinner party where the men were going to cook the feast. (It helped that one was a chef.) But the engineer of the group worried that everyone kept opening the oven so much that the food would never cook properly and did what any engineer who knows nothing about cooking would – he locked the oven. We have great pictures of 5 men trying to unlock the oven with every tool we two girls owned, while almost all of our food was super-cooking. Dinner wasn’t actually ruined, but all the girls just kept drinking wine while the emergency continued, so I’m not sure any of us could tell if the food was good!

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  17. Hey, just found your blog its great. I have recently started cleaning my oven with a solution of washing soda and hot water … seriously its amazing ( i am like the washing soda zealot these days) just as good as oven cleaner but not nearly as unpleasant! Love the ham story.

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  18. Wow, you have an infant and you are cleaning oven? Go girl! My younger one just turned 8 months and have busy preschooler and I am blissfully happy with my somewhat dirty, somewhat clean oven and kitchen both.

    Please share your energy secrets with me!

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  19. My sister cooked a leg of lamb and turned the oven off to bring the meat to her desired carry-over temperature. She forgot about it and then turned the oven on to clean it. She, too, smelled the disaster but was quick enough to pop the circuit breaker in the electrical panel to shut it off. I’d be lucky to know where my circuit breaker box was Ü