Opening your oven door to clouds of smoke can cause some alarm — especially for the one on the ceiling. An oven smoking isn’t always a sign of unfolding disaster though. If you’ve burnt the Sunday roast to a crisp, you’ve already found the cause. But sometimes it’s not that obvious why it’s happening and you could need repairs for your gas oven, gas cooker or electric cooker.

The main thing you need to remember, is that whatever the cause, a smoking oven is a common issue. But it’s one that you need to address if you want to keep it working at its best. Let’s look a little closer at some of the reasons why your oven might be smoking and what you can do about it.

Reasons why your oven is smoking

Here’s the good news. Usually, an oven smoking is something you can tackle yourself. You shouldn’t need to call out a specialist engineer as normally it’s due to something simple. The bad news is that it’s going to require a little elbow grease.

Grease has built up

Elbow grease brings us nicely onto the first common cause of a smoking oven — a build-up of grease and fats. When you cook certain foods, fat and oil can spit out onto the inside walls and door of your oven. Afterwards, it’s easy to forget about cleaning it up. Nobody enjoys cleaning their oven. But the longer you leave it, the greater the build-up of grease and fat that causes smoke every time you turn your oven on.

Food has spilled inside the oven

Another cause of a smoking oven is food spills. Pizza’s the main culprit here. If any food residue remains on the grills or drops to the bottom of the oven, it’s only going to continue to cook, burn and smoke. That is, unless you clean it up afterwards.

The oven is new

Sometimes, you may find that your oven’s smoking when you turn it on for the first time. This is usually because some parts of the oven still have an oily or protective residue from the manufacturing process. Don’t worry, odours and smoke are normal when the oven’s used the first few times.

It has recently been cleaned

If you’ve finally bitten the bullet and got down to cleaning your oven, you might be surprised to find it’s still smoking the next time you use it. Again, this isn’t something to worry about. If you’ve given it a thorough clean, the smoke’s probably due to residue left from the soap or cleaner you used. When you use your oven again, it can cause the residue to smoke when it heats up.

What to do if your oven is smoking

To stop your oven from smoking, first you need to identify the cause.

If your oven’s new, it’s likely smoking due to residue from the manufacturing process. To deal with this, turn it on, with nothing inside, to the highest possible temperature for an hour. This will burn off any remaining residue quickly. If you have a self-cleaning or pyrolytic oven, just run one empty cycle.

If the oven was recently cleaned, use a vinegar and water solution (in equal parts) to remove any excess cleaner. Remember to clean the inside top, sides, bottom and the door before drying thoroughly.

Generally, if the oven’s smoking due to food residue or a buildup of oil and grease, you can follow these steps to get your oven spotless again.

  1. Remove your oven racks and wash them in warm, soapy water. Some oven racks are dishwasher-safe but check your oven manual first to make sure they won't be damaged in the dishwasher. Dry the racks and set them aside.
  2. Wipe away any loose food particles in your oven. 
  3. Make an oven cleaner paste using three parts baking soda and one part water.
  4. Spread the baking soda paste around the inside of your oven. If there are tough, burnt-on spots, put a little extra paste on them. Avoid putting it on the heating elements though.
  5. Close your oven, and let the paste sit overnight.
  6. Moisten a sponge or cleaning cloth with warm water and wipe away the baking soda paste.
  7. Fill a spray bottle with one part vinegar and one part water. Spray down the oven and wipe away leftover baking soda paste with your sponge.    
  8. Return the racks to your oven and you’re good to start cooking again.

How to stop your oven smoking in future

To avoid any future episodes of smoking ovens, try to remember to do the following:  

  • Place any food in pans, trays or dishes before placing it in the oven. Don’t place food directly on the oven racks. If you must, make sure you put a tray or fireproof, non-stick oven mat on the bottom of the oven to catch any spills.
  • Keep at least three inches of space between food and the heating elements. If they’re too close, the food is likely to spit onto the elements, before burning and smoking. 
  • Once you’ve used the oven, wait for it to cool before giving it a wipe down.
  • Clean the interior and racks of your oven monthly.

About the author

Dan Flanagan

Dan joined Domestic & General as a Digital Copywriter in 2022. He’s already helped to write and shape copy for our customers and our business audience alike. His background lies mainly in PR and Comms, writing press releases and advertising. Dan lives in Brixton, South London equidistant between the gym and the pub, fighting an eternal battle of wills.

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