Cleaning an oven is never fun, but these days it’s a lot easier. Oven cleaning products have better formulations, are easier to apply and contain less toxic chemicals – although with products like these, tough chemicals are hard to avoid.
Sadly, unless you’ve got a degree in biochemistry, choosing the best oven cleaner can be a bit of a minefield, which is why we’ve swooped to the rescue, armed with our trusty cleaning bucket, to work out which ones are worth your hard-earned cash.
Our testing was incredibly thorough. We’re not for one second saying our test oven is dirty, but put it this way: we definitely had a decent range of stains on which to try the cleaners.
We evaluated their performance in a number of ways, including with the use of before and after pictures, and by applying the cleaners to side-by-side patches which allowed us to compare their ability to tackle grime.
The holy grail? A cleaner that cut through grease, grime and baked-on fat, but which didn’t smell like something which required a biohazard suit. And, simply because nobody’s idea of a good time is an oven cleaning session, the option to leave on the cleaner for longer periods of time (ideally overnight) to ensure stubborn stains were thoroughly blitzed.
Surprisingly, none of these cleaners had a strong scent – an indicator that formulations have evolved to the point where they’re still able to work their magic without overpowering fumes. However, it’s worth noting that you should always ensure there’s good ventilation whenever you’re cleaning an oven, and gloves should always be worn, too.
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Astonish specialist oven and grill cleaner and sponge
We never thought we would love the scent of an oven cleaner, but Astonish’s oven and grill gleaner and sponge changed our minds. A citrussy blast which conjured up images of leisurely walks through Spanish orange groves, it was a totally unexpected scent, although perhaps unsurprising given the ingredients – the formula is free from harsh chemicals (orange oil is a key ingredient), and was one of the few we tried which didn’t bear the “burning hand” symbol warning of its corrosivity.
We also loved its consistency – the plastic tub contains an orange paste, which is rubbed onto the areas of concern with the dampened, dual-sided sponge provided. Amazingly (when rubbed with the sponge) the paste instantly started breaking down the toughest stains, and cut through built-up layers of grease and grime with ease.
Oven Mate oven cleaning kit
Prior to testing, we had serious doubts about the need to over-complicate the process of oven-cleaning by creating an entire kit, but now we’re converts. It’s easy to underestimate the roster of nasties packed into certain cleaners, which is why we loved the fact that this kit didn’t just come with a bottle of oven cleaner, but with gloves, gators (for lower arms) and an application brush too.
Being able to use the brush to apply the solution made it easy to target specific areas, and when used on the toughest stains, this odourless cleaner’s consistency (a thick, transparent gel) meant it stayed put. We left the gel on for 30 minutes (the instructions suggested leaving it on for between three minutes and three hours) and were wowed by the results – it tackled the oven’s toughest stains, and cut through baked-on fat and oil to reveal a showroom-level shininess.
Mr Muscle oven cleaner
When you’re dealing with harsh chemicals, an aerosol is a godsend. In this case, we could direct the laser-like spray at the areas in question, and when targeting larger areas, the pressurisation meant the fine mist – which was much finer than the foams produced by manual sprays – provided a far more even coverage.
The instructions stated that the cleaner should be left on for 30 minutes before removal with a damp cloth or sponge, and when we did so, some seriously tough stains had been blitzed. The clear outline highlighting the treated area was also a testament to its ability to not only remove grime, but to leave oven surfaces sparklingly clean.
Cif perfect finish oven and grill spray
Most people think of the iconic, lemon-yellow bottle when they think of Cif, but the Cif family’s new addition, the perfect finish oven and grill spray, comes in a grass-green spray bottle with a child-proof nozzle. It’s another spray that is designed to be left on for 30 minutes prior to what the instructions refer to as “rinsing.” This is surely tricky where ovens are concerned, so we opted to wipe the thick foam away with a damp cloth instead. The results were fantastic – stains we’d ignored for years had been banished, and we achieved similar results when we left the product on for half the time.
Oven Mate daily oven cleaner
This is a product designed to be used regularly – not simply for yearly blitzes. According to the instructions it should be sprayed onto the surface and left on for 30 minutes, although for a cleaner designed for daily use that seems rather long. After half an hour, we wiped off the foam to find a thick layer of grease had been given its marching orders. It was less effective when used this way on tougher, burned-on stains which had built up over longer periods of time, but we found that using a pad to rub the spray into these tougher stains prior to the 30 minutes (rather than simply spritzing on) yielded much better results.
However, it’s important to remember this spray isn’t designed to tackle the toughest of stains. It’s a great cleaner for anyone who cleans their oven on a regular basis; it works incredibly well on grease and oil and will inevitably make your annual deep cleans much less painful.
Cif cream cleaner
Full disclosure – this isn’t a product designed specifically for ovens, but plenty of households rely on it to do just that, so we thought it only fair to give it a shot. Its obvious benefits include the formulation – the thick cream isn’t just easy to apply, but uses all-natural cleaning particles derived from limestone – and it’s contained in a bottle which is both made from recycled plastic and recyclable. But can it clean ovens?
To a certain extent, yes. It struggled with some of the toughest stains (it’s worth noting that several dedicated oven cleaning products too) but did a great job of removing lighter ones, and cut through the grease with ease, without the need to leave the solution on. It’s a sad fact that the most powerful oven cleaners will inevitably be the ones packed with the most toxic ingredients, but Cif Cream Cleaner is a great option for anyone who wants to remove moderate stains without the need for a chemical cocktail.
Wpro ceramic hob and oven care kit
This is another kit, and although we didn’t end up using the 3m microfibre cloth which was included, the products are fantastic. Weirdly, we also liked the appearance of the packaging – a sleek silver box containing the cloth and three products: the stainless steel cleaner, a hob cleaner, and the oven and grill cleaner. If, for any reason, we were to gift our loved ones an oven cleaning kit, this would be the one they’d get.
The stainless steel cleaner and the hob cleaner worked perfectly well, but we focused our attention on the oven and grill cleaner. The instructions stated we could supercharge the stain removal process by applying it to a hot oven, in which case it only needed to be left on for 10 minutes. We chose to apply the spray – which dispenses as a thick, white foam - to a cold oven for the prescribed time of 30 minutes, and when we wiped it away, a seriously thick build-up of grease and grime had been removed, although we needed a little extra elbow grease to finish off the most stubborn stains.
Jeyes barbecue and oven cleaner
This oven cleaner hasn’t just been designed to blast through oven-related grime but to kill harmful bacteria, too – a welcome bonus at a time we’re keener than ever before to banish bacteria from our homes. The downside is that it’s definitely a better disinfector than an oven cleaner, though if you’re the kind of person who prefers to deep clean once a year but wants a milder cleaner to minimise grease and grime build-up between those annual blitzes, this is a worthwhile investment. It will easily remove light stains and grease marks, but you’ll probably need something stronger to tackle the toughest stains.
The verdict: Oven cleaners
The Astonish specialist oven and grill cleaner and sponge was a great oven cleaner that blitzed built-up grime without the need for skin-singeing chemicals, although the Oven Mate oven cleaning kit – a brilliant triple-whammy of oven cleaning brilliance – bagged second place. And our oven cleaning appointment with Mr Muscle proves that this fantastic cleaner will still effortlessly blast oven-related grime into oblivion.
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