Can You Really Clean an Oven and Baking Tray With Natural Cleaning Alternatives? (A Simple Test!)

I don’t know about you but I always try to avoid nasty cleaning chemicals wherever possible, especially on surfaces where food is prepared.

The thought of my food coming into direct contact with a baking tray that’s just been saturated with powerful caustic chemicals is worrying, to say the least!

The same applies to my oven, even though the chemicals don’t come into direct contact with the food, I still don’t feel comfortable with it being used in there.

If your baking tray is just greasy, then you can clean it with hot water, washing up liquid and some elbow grease.

But as you probably know, burnt-on food is a different beast altogether.

The Claims

There are tons of cleaning websites, blogs and youtube videos claiming that natural alternatives such as vinegar and bicarbonate of soda can clean ovens and trays just as well as harsh chemicals.

But are they accurate or just a load of nonsense?

On this page, you’ll see the results of my simple test.

I’ll be using a baking tray that’s covered in fat and burnt-on food remains.

If the natural products work well, I’ll try cleaning the oven, which is in a similar condition.

My Baking Tray

I’m a little ashamed to admit it but I haven’t cleaned this tray in many months, as you can see, it’s covered with much more than grease and fat:

Dirty baking tray

The Equipment I’ll be Using

I’ll be following the steps suggested by several videos and bloggers. Here’s a list of all the items I’ll use:

  • 1 x plastic scraper
  • 1 x sponge
  • Half a small cup of baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Boiled water

Step by Step Instructions

This is a two-step process, the first apparently softens and removes the top layer of grease and burnt on food while the second strips away the underlying stubborn bits.

1 – Wipe away any excess or loose foodstuff with a sponge or tissue.

2 – Pour boiling water into the baking tray and sprinkle half a cup of bicarbonate of soda evenly over the surface.

This is what you should see:

Bicarbonate of soda in baking tray

3 – Leave for at least 6 hours, this is an important step as the hot water and bicarbonate of soda needs time to soften the burnt on food.

4 – After 6 hours, starting scraping the baking tray with the plastic scraper in different directions. Start vertically, then horizontally, then at an angle.

5 – Once most of the thick layer of burnt on food has been scraped off, pour away the liquid waste and sprinkle bicarbonate of soda onto the tray. Now add a few millimetres of vinegar and leave for another 6 hours.

This is what you see:

vinegar in baking tray

6 – Finish off by scraping and scrubbing the tray, most of the burnt on food should now apparently be soft enough to easily remove.

Did it Work?

Here’s what the baking tray looks like now, this is after some serious elbow work.

Not so clean baking tray

Not as clean as I expected

Conclusion

As you can see from the last photo, this method isn’t nearly as effective as powerful chemicals but it’s these products that are harmful to our health.

From what I can tell; hot water, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda didn’t really work very well at all. I could probably get similar results by using any type of course/granular material like sand or salt lumps.

The vinegar didn’t dissolve the fat either.

I’ll give this method a score of 4/10 and tonight I’ll go and buy a new tray from the local superstore. They cost less than £15 and I don’t see the point in spending more time trying to scrub this one clean.

I just need to convince my husband to get a new oven because I’m too lazy to clean this one :-).