Oven cleaner is a powerful solvent. In fact, the rest of our kitchen cleaners would most likely fail at removing those stubborn, heat-stuck stains in our oven. But is oven cleaner safe to use on the rest of the kitchen? In this article, I will be breaking down the common ingredients of oven cleaner, and the nasty effects it can have on your kitchen countertop.
Chemicals that Can Damage your Kitchen
Knowing the names of some harmful ingredients can spare you some serious damage to your kitchen. Here are some chemicals to look out for...
3) Sodium Hydroxide
In the right environment, these ingredients make cleaning far easier, and they may just be the only thing that can get the job done....
but kitchen countertops are more delicate.
Continued use of these chemicals can tarnish the sealant, color, and material of your kitchen counters. So as much as you want your kitchen to sparkle, using overly corrosive cleaners can ultimately expedite the aging process.
It's a far better idea to understand the ingredients in your cleaners so you can make educated choices in the kitchen.
Can Oven Cleaner Damage Kitchen Countertops?
Can I consolidate my cleaners and start cleaning everything with my oven cleaner?
In short....I wouldn't.
Oven cleaner can act as a very abrasive degreaser. It can strip countertops of their delicate layers, and leave you with bigger problems than you started with.
What is in Oven Cleaner?
Most oven cleaners include a harsh ingredient known as sodium hydroxide. Sodium hydroxide is a powerful alkaline (basic) compound that can be very useful in loosening up stubborn grime. When diluted enough, this chemical can be used safely on just about any surface.
Ovens, and countertop ovens, tend to need a little extra help so the concentration of sodium hydroxide is usually pretty high in oven cleaner. That's why I highly discourage using oven cleaner for anything other than what it was made for...
cleaning the inside of your oven.
Materials Most Prone to Damage by Oven Cleaner
Although we personally never recommend putting oven cleaner on your kitchen countertop, here are some materials that are most prone to damage.
The only thing between you and the porous nature of your wood counter is a thin layer of finish. Given a high enough concentration of sodium hydroxide with a little elbow grease and this finish can easily come off.
Once the finish comes off, the wood can easily absorb anything that comes into contact with it. If your countertop starts absorbing all the food you prepare on it, harmful bacteria can form and thrive, creating an unsafe cooking environment.
Similar to wood, a smooth finish is applied to stone countertops to keep them from absorbing anything. Sodium hydroxide can break down this finish, and restore the delicate and porous nature of the stone.
Again, having an absorbent kitchen counter can foster a suitable environment for harmful bacteria.
Although oven cleaner can actually be used as a very effective bathroom grout cleaner, we still don't recommend using it in the kitchen. Grout is porous which means it can absorb those harmful chemicals we place on it.
Using abrasive chemicals on your bathroom floor is probably not a big deal, but using these chemicals where you prepare food could cause larger problems.
4) Stainless Steel
Although many of us know stainless steel for its indestructible nature, oven cleaner can still do some damage. The stainless steel of today usually has some proportion of aluminum in it. The sodium hydroxide in the oven cleaner can pit, and even discolor the aluminum in the stainless steel.
Although a thorough rinsing would get the oven cleaner off the steel, the discoloration could be permanant.
Related Article: 9 Best Countertop Ovens
How to Properly Clean Your Kitchen Countertops
Most kitchen counters can be sufficiently cleaned with mild homemade cleaners. You can also buy some simple over-the-counter cleaners that won't compromise the finish or color of your kitchen counter.
Mild, Over the Counter Cleaners:
1) Meyers Multi-Surface Cleaner (affiliate link)
2) Clorox Wipes (affiliate Link)
Easy Homemade Cleaners:
Other Easy Examples:
1) The White Vinegar Cleaner
White vinegar contains acetic acid which is a weak acid. This is just the right amount of acid to clean your kitchen counters while also keeping them safe from damage (DO NOT USE ON GRANITE).
- 16 oz Spray Bottle
- 1:1 White vinegar to Water ratio
- 8oz water
- 8oz white vinegar.
- You can also add a couple drops of your favorite essential oils (lemon works great) to provide an appealing smell and make your cleaner even more beneficial. Use caution when using essential oils, as they are highly concentrated, and don’t use more than 10-15 drops per spray bottle.
2) Isopropyl Granite Cleaner
Granite is a rare case where even weak acids can do some damage. Don't worry, you can still make a simple home cleaner with some isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and water.
- (1/6) Cup Isopropyl Alcohol : 1 Cup Water
- Approximately 1/3 cup Isopropyl Alcohol
- 2 cups water
Other Oven Cleaner Questions
Here are some other common questions I've encountered with oven cleaner.
Can I Use Oven Cleaner on Quartz?
Quartz is a type of stone, and oven cleaner can easily strip off its sealer. Although there are some far less abrasive oven cleaners, I would still refrain from using it. Taking a chance on your beautiful quartz counters is a risk most of us aren't willing to take.
Can I Use Oven Cleaner on Granite?
I really hope I'm getting the point across here. Using oven cleaner on any kind of stone can be detrimental to the integrity of the stone’s minerals. You're much better off with a mild soap/cleaner.
Oven Cleaner Stain on Worktop, What Should I do?
Hopefully the oven cleaner has only attacked the sealant and not the table material itself. If this is the case, there are some steps to properly clean it without inflicting any further damage.
1) Rinse the small area with water, trying not to spill anything onto the floor. Then soak it up with a microfiber towel (paper towels will work too).
2) Do this several times to help dilute the sodium hydroxide to a more neutral pH.
3) Grab the proper sealer from your local hardware store.
4) Follow the instructions to reseal the worktop.
If the oven cleaner penetrated past the sealer, it may be too late. At this point, it may be worth talking to a wood-worker to see if sanding it down is a plausible course of action.
Can I Use Oven Cleaner on Cabinets?
Kitchen cabinets are typically made of wood, and wood is at the top of the list of materials you should never clean with oven cleaner. Sodium hydroxide (the main ingredient in oven cleaner) is actually a major ingredient in many paint removers. It can easily strip the paint off your cabinets and cause irreversible damage.
I hope this article hasn't given oven cleaner a bad name. In the right circumstances, oven cleaner can fill a void not many other solvents can. If you're ever doing anything with oven cleaner, besides cleaning an oven, do the proper research to ensure you're taking care of your stuff.
Founder of Robust Kitchen