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Steam clean ovens: how to clean your oven with steam

Messy food spills can happen when cooking, but you can get your oven clean again with some heat and a little water. Learn what a steam clean oven is and use the step-by-step instructions for steam cleaning your oven to rid it of spills and food residue. 

What is a steam clean oven?

Some ovens feature a steam clean option that uses water to loosen soils to make wiping away easier. This option, which can last anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours, uses heat and water to soften grime and food residue from the interior of the oven. Steam clean cycles are great as “maintenance” in between deep cleans.

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Explore Whirlpool® Steam Clean Ovens

Explore Whirlpool® Ovens with steam clean so you can take care of the cooking knowing your oven can take on the dirty work. For even more convenience and easier cleaning, consider Whirlpool® Oven with AquaLift® Self-Cleaning Technology. Simply add water, run the cycle and then wipe away any remaining soils once the cycle is done.

Whirlpool® Electric Range in a kitchen Whirlpool® Electric Range in a kitchen

How does a steam cleaning oven work?

Using heat and water, ovens with a steam cleaning function will soften light grime or debris left over from previous usage. Around a cup of water is poured on the floor of the oven. The oven will then heat up to turn the water into steam and help soften the residue. Learn more about how steam-cleaning differs from self-cleaning ovens.

Does steam cleaning really clean?

Steam cleaning is great for smaller messes and minor spills that happen when using the oven. Since the temperature tends to be lower and cycle times shorter than other self-cleaning cycles, steam cleaning is ideal for routine cleaning of your oven.   

If your oven needs a deep clean, then steam cleaning and wiping the cavity prior to running a self-clean cycle can help loosen up major spills or burnt on messes for a more thorough job. Additionally, if your oven doesn’t have a steam clean option, you can try using using a handheld steam cleaner, just note that it will take a little more manual labor on your part. 

What do you need to steam clean an oven?

The great thing about steam cleaning your oven is that you only need heat and water to do the heavy lifting without the need to use any harsh chemicals or high temperatures, which could cause your oven to smoke. While you should always exercise caution when using your oven, steam cleaning your oven is a simple way to keep up with messes inside.

Whirlpool® Wall Oven in a kitchen with gas cooktop Whirlpool® Wall Oven in a kitchen with gas cooktop

How to steam clean your oven

Use these steps to steam clean your oven with or without a steam clean cycle, to get it looking spotless. For information on your specific model and how to clean it, reference your owner's manual.

What you’ll need for oven steam cleaning:

If your oven has a steam clean cycle, all you’ll need is water and a sponge or cleaning rag. Otherwise, here’s what you’ll need to steam clean an oven without a steam clean cycle.


  • Distilled or filtered water (no more the 2 cups)

  • White vinegar (optional)

  • Baking soda or non-abrasive cleaner (optional)


  • Cleaning rag
  • Oven safe bowl or pot

  • Sponge 

  • Vacuum with hose attachment (optional)

Watch this video to learn how to clean your Whirlpool® Oven with Steam Clean Cycle.

Inner view of dirty oven cavity Inner view of dirty oven cavity

Step 1: Remove racks from oven 

Before beginning the process for steam cleaning your oven, make sure that you remove any racks, pots or accessories that may be inside.

Oven cavity being wiped with a sponge Oven cavity being wiped with a sponge

Step 2: Wipe off any soil and debris (Optional)

While not necessary, you can use a wet cleaning rag to wipe down the inside of your oven and remove any leftover crumbs, grease or other debris that may be present. Make sure that your oven is completely cooled down before doing this step. 

  • If you have a vacuum with a hose attachment, you can use it instead of the rag to pick up the crumbs.

Water being poured onto oven floor Water being poured onto oven floor

Step 3: Set your oven temperature or choose your steam clean setting

If your oven has a steam clean option, then you can simply press the steam clean button and let your oven do the rest of the work. If your oven doesn’t have this option, then you can set your oven to 450ºF for 20 minutes.

  • Note that some ovens with a steam clean function will ask you to add the water AFTER setting the cycle first.

Hand pushing Start button Hand pushing Start button

Step 4: Place water in the oven

To avoid water spots or mineral deposits, use filtered or distilled water for steam cleaning. If your oven is designed to hold water in the bottom for a steam clean cycle, you can pour the water directly to the bottom of the oven cavity. Not all ovens with steam clean cycles have the ability to hold water. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for your oven. If you don’t have a steam clean option or are unsure of your oven’s design, fill an oven-safe pot or bowl with water and place it on a rack in the lowest position. 

  • Refer to your owners manual for details on the amount and placement of water within the oven. It’s generally recommended not to exceed 2 cups of water.

  • If your oven is extra dirty or if you prefer some extra cleaning power, you can use a mix of white vinegar and water or just white vinegar.

Sponge wiping dirt and water from oven cavity Sponge wiping dirt and water from oven cavity

Step 5: Wipe down oven once it’s cool 

Once your cleaning cycle is done, wait until the oven is completely cooled before wiping down the cavity. Use an old wet rag or a sponge to clean up the grime that the steam helped loosen up.

Step 6: Use baking soda or a non-abrasive cleaner to remove stubborn messes

If you have some stubborn grime that isn’t coming fully off even after the steam cleaning, then you can help remove stuck on messes using a water and baking soda mixture with a sponge.

For Whirlpool® Ovens with Aqualift technology, you can use affresh® Kitchen Appliance Cleaner or affresh® Cooktop Cleaner to clean the oven bottom, walls and door when the oven has finished the cycle and returned to room temperature. If affresh® Cooktop Cleaner is used, it is recommended to wipe out the cavity with distilled water as well.  

Non-Abrasive scrub sponges or eraser style cleaning pads (without cleaners) can be effective for cleaning the oven cavity walls, oven door and oven bottom for difficult soils. For best results, moisten the pads and sponges before use.

NOTE: Based on lab testing, the eraser style sponge can be very effective for difficult soils.

Cleaning tip:

To remove hard-to-clean messes, use the baking soda and water to make a paste to coat the oven cavity. Let it rest anywhere from 20 minutes to overnight before wiping down.


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