Is caustic soda dangerous? | Dangers of Cleaning Products

Potential Dangers of Oven Cleaning Products

By on 28th January 2010 (updated: 15th March 2024) in Blog

Potential Dangers of Oven Cleaning Products

While many underestimate the potential dangers of oven cleaning products, when used incorrectly, oven cleaning products can sadly have severely damaging effects. If you’re wondering is caustic soda dangerous, what are the potential dangers of cleaning products containing caustic soda and what alternatives you can use, we’ve written a guide to help.

Generally speaking, the oven cleaners that “do what they say on the package” will contain ingredients that mean you’ll need to be very careful when using the product. You MUST always read the instructions first. 

There are numerous cases every week of damage to both humans and appliances where the instructions have become ‘destructions’ because warnings have not been heeded. Warnings are put onto oven cleaning products for good reason. A common toxic ingredient found in many ‘off the shelf’ oven cleaners is sodium hydroxide more commonly known as caustic soda. This product is a high alkaline that can cause a lot of damage if not used properly.

As oven cleaning experts, we’re here to give you all the guidance we can, from using the best oven cleaner products to an ultimate guide on how to clean your oven. We want to ensure your complete safety, and using a professional oven cleaner can increase your security to ensure your oven is clean to a high standard and without any dangerous accidents.

Is Caustic Soda Dangerous?

Many are unaware that many chemicals found in oven-cleaning products can cause harm to humans. Commonly referred to as Caustic Soda (Lye), Sodium Hydroxide is found in most oven cleaner products and can cause skin burns and irritation to the eyes.

Lye is an effective cleaning chemical because it reacts with the baked-on grease in your oven as it decomposes fats and sugars into soapy compounds that can be washed away. However, caustic soda can be dangerous to humans and ruin some of your appliances if not used correctly.

What Can Caustic Soda Do If Used Incorrectly?

Here is a detailed list of all the potential dangers that arise from using oven cleaners with caustic soda:

  • Burns to the skin
  • Irritation to eyes
  • Damage to nostrils and lungs
  • Removal of paint
  • Corrosion of certain metals
  • Dulling of glass
  • Rotting of rubber
  • Distortion of elements
  • Removal of ‘self-clean’ coatings including ‘non-stick’.

The list above isn’t exhaustive, but just an idea of what can go wrong. That said, caustic soda is a very effective oven cleaner and oven cleaning product, particularly in a commercial environment.

You may also need to look out for some different variations of caustic/corrosive oven cleaners, including caustic potash and potassium hydroxide, to name just a couple.

If the oven cleaner you’re looking at has a label for ‘corrosive’ then the chances are it contains caustics in some way, shape or form.

oven cleaning products

Further Disadvantages of Caustic Soda

A huge issue with caustic-based products is that they are often sold in aerosol sprays. The product is dispensed at speed making accurate ‘spraying’ virtually impossible without ‘masking’ all the potentially hazardous areas beforehand. This can become pretty time-consuming.

What Precautions Can I Take When Using Chemical Cleaning Products?

The first, and most important step, is always to read the label. There may be specific requirements, chemicals you cannot use alongside, or surfaces which the product may ruin if you do not read the instructions. Secondly, regardless of the strength or chemical compound of the cleaning product, you’re using, always use gloves and a mask when cleaning with any chemical cleaning product.

How Do I Clean My Oven?

Ovens can vary from brand to brand, materials, fuel type, accessories and configurations. In that sense, every oven needs cleaning differently. Following our comprehensive guide on how to clean your oven, how to properly clean oven door glass, and how to maintain induction hobs are just a few ways we can help you clean and maintain your appliance. When it all seems a bit too much, reach out to one of our professional oven-cleaning experts. We’ll do the work so you don’t have to lift a finger! Get in touch today.

Is Oven Cleaning Dangerous?

With so many products available it can become not only stressful figuring out the best one for the job, but also how to use them. Some can be used internally only, others can be used on hobs too. Some can be used in hot ovens, others can only be used in cold ovens. Again, this highlights the importance of reading the label. However, we have put together a guide on buying the right oven cleaner for the job. No matter what oven configuration you have.

How Often Should You Clean Your Oven?

You should aim to have your oven cleaned thoroughly every two to twelve weeks, however, this time frame depends on how much you use your oven and what you’re cooking in it. If you’re cooking foods that are likely to spill or splatter in the oven, or you tend to be a messy cook in general, then you may find that you’re in need of an oven clean more often.

Taking preventative actions can help to reduce how often your oven needs cleaning. For example, you could ensure that you place a spare baking tray at the bottom of your oven whenever you’re cooking food that is likely to drip. If you’re looking to make the most out of your deep oven cleans then you could give your oven a quick wipe-down after each use, just make sure it’s properly cooled down beforehand!

Related: How Often Should You Clean Your Oven?

Eco-friendly oven cleaning products

Things to Look Out For

You should also look out for so-called ‘professional oven cleaning companies’ that claim to be “just a bit caustic”. Products are either caustic or not.

Caustic Soda Alternatives

A far ‘kinder’ range of oven cleaners contain ‘surfactants’ to physically break down the grease and fatty substances rather than ‘burning’ them off. Oven cleaning products containing these ingredients will generally be more limited in effect and will take longer to work.

On the plus side, however, they will be a lot kinder to the environment and safer to dispose of after use. You’ll probably have to use a lot of this type of oven cleaner on heavy soiling perhaps even a second or third application in severe circumstances.

The range of oven cleaners and oven cleaning products that claim to be ‘eco-friendly’ is a huge growth market. A couple of these products claim to be ‘chemical-free.’ This actually means they only contain water, anything added is in fact a chemical.

Various pastes, sprays and gels will have limited effect as their main constituent ingredient is water, which is environmentally friendly but won’t necessarily do the job you need to do. In many cases, simply washing up liquid would produce a better result!

We’ve reviewed a number of eco-friendly oven cleaning products so you don’t have to!

Eco-friendly Alternative to Caustic Soda

For oven cleaning, make a cleaning paste by mixing baking soda and water in equal parts until it forms a stiff paste. Baking soda reacts with baked-on grease and dirt and decomposes fats and sugars, making it possible to easily clean your oven.

Stay Informed and Look Out for the Dangers of Caustic Soda

As you’ll now appreciate, the range of oven cleaning products is interesting and diverse for many good reasons and logic. As we pointed out from the outset, it’s a minefield out there, however, exercising due diligence before embarking on the oven cleaning chore, should ensure that both you and your cooking appliances are still in one piece once you’ve finished the job!

If in any doubt, contact a professional oven cleaning service company that will know exactly what they’re doing and will leave your oven sparkling, hygienic, and safe to use. We’re here to ensure your safety and give your oven the best possible clean without causing any harm or damage to your much-loved kitchen appliance.

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owner of ovenu

Rik Hellewell is the Founder & Managing Director of Ovenu and a member of the Approved Franchise Association. He established Ovenu in 1993, cleaning 4,000 ovens and proving his concept over five years before starting the franchise business. Since then he has helped over 200 franchisees achieve their dreams of running successful businesses of their own. Established for over 25 years, the Ovenu concept has proven successful across the UK, New Zealand, Australia and the USA.