How it works
The fumes that come from a self-cleaning oven while using the self-cleaning function are very toxic (see more in the story below). It's REALLY easy to clean your oven manually — and much, much safer. Remove racks from your oven and spray it down with a mist of warm water. I actually made a solution of 3/4 water, 1/4 white vinegar, and several drops of essential oils (lemon and peppermint), but plain water works fine. Then, sprinkle baking soda all over the bottom of the oven until there's a thin paste. Allow this mixture to sit for a few hours (2-4, depending on how much time you have and how dirty it is) and then use a sponge or cleaning cloth to wipe the oven clean. It's amazing how it lifts the yuck right off of the oven, AND you get to skip the dangerous fumes/high levels of heat that a self-cleaning function produces.
What you'll need
I wanted to clean my oven last night and have always, for all 31 years of my life, seen an oven clean and cleaned my own using the self-cleaning function that's built in. But now that I have a son, I'm *extra cautious* about things that I previously didn't think much about. I started wondering how in the world an oven can clean itself and if there are chemical-laden negative impacts. So I decided to research it and was SHOCKED to see how many articles immediately popped up that cautioned against using the self-cleaning feature. Yikes! It turns out that since the oven gets EXTREMELY HOT (like up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit), it emits all kinds of stuff that you shouldn't be breathing in (and can even emit high amounts of carbon monoxide!) Some articles even said that these fumes are known to kill household pets (specifically, birds) and you should always open windows, ventilate the house, and go outside if you use the self-cleaning function. I decided right then that it would be best to DIY using ingredients I knew were safe.