Do You Really Know What’s In Your Oven Cleaner?

By on 20th April 2015 (updated: 10th March 2020) in Cleaning Tips

When it comes to housework, keeping a home spic and span is often a top priority.

But when it comes to oven cleaning, do you really know what you are using to keep your oven looking nice? And are you aware of the potentially harmful side effects some ingredients could have on you and your family?

Four Chemicals To Avoid

Numerous chemicals that are found in readily available store-bought cleaners can be potentially harmful.

The four chemicals to look out for are:

  • Sodium hydroxide (also known as caustic soda)
  • Sodium hypochlorite
  • Potassium hydroxide
  • Ammonia

What You Didn’t Know About Sodium Hydroxide (Caustic Soda)

  • Damage – Products containing caustic soda can damage your oven interior.
  • Corrosive – The chemical becomes extremely hazardous and corrosive when heated.
  • Uses – The chemical can be found in other household items including drain cleaners, metal polishes and aquarium products.

Health Risks

  • Inhaling caustic soda – If inhaled, caustic soda can cause irritation of the eyes and nose, a sore throat, cough, tightness in the chest, headache and confusion. In severe cases, breathing in this chemical could lead to a build-up of fluid in the lungs which takes up to 36 hours to develop.
  • Skin contact – If caustic soda comes into contact with the skin it can cause severe burning.
  • Eye contact – If eyes come into contact with the chemical it can cause pain, watering eyes, twitching, inflammation, severe burns and sensitivity to light.

What You Didn’t Know About Sodium Hypochlorite

  • Toxic – Sodium hypochlorite is a highly toxic chemical.
  • Uses – Approximately 70% of the total amount of sodium hypochlorite produced is used to make bleach for household cleaners. Other uses include medical treatments and drinking water disinfectants.
  • Aroma – Sodium hypochlorite has the potent smell of chlorine.

Health Risks

  • Inhaling sodium hypochlorite – Short-term inhalation of the chemical may cause eye and nose irritation, a sore throat, cough, tightness of the chest, headache and confusion.
  • Skin contact – If sodium hypochlorite comes into short-term contact with the skin it is unlikely to damage intact skin. Long-term exposure may cause swelling, blisters and irritation.
  • Eye contact – Short-term contact with the eyes can cause pain, watering eyes and sensitivity to light.

What You Didn’t Know About Potassium Hydroxide

  • Corrosive – The chemical becomes extremely hazardous and corrosive when heated and is reactive to water.
  • Alternative name – Potassium hydroxide is also known as caustic potash.
  • Uses – The chemical can be found in a number of products including leather tanning chemicals and drain cleaners.
  • Appearance – The appearance of potassium hydroxide is either a white or yellow powder.

Health Risks

  • Skin and eye contact – If potassium hydroxide comes into contact with the skin or eyes it can cause burning, severe pain and loss of vision.
  • Inhaling potassium hydroxide – If the chemical is inhaled it can cause irritation that may lead to serious heart problems and lung irritation. It can also cause breathing difficulties, burns of the sinuses, throat airway and lungs (respiratory tract), coughing and, in severe cases, coma.

What You Didn’t Know About Ammonia

  • Corrosive – Ammonia and ammonia solutions are irritant and corrosive.
  • Alternative name – Ammonia is also called hydrogen nitrite.
  • Appearance – Ammonia is a colourless gas that is approximately 50% lighter than air and dissolves in water.
  • Uses – The chemical has many uses within the industrial sector, with over one million tons produced in the UK every year. It is widely used in the production of fertilisers.
  • Aroma – Ammonia has a potent and distinctive smell, similar to urine.

Health Risks

  • Skin and eye contact – Minor exposure may lead to a burning sensation of the eyes and throat. More substantial exposure to the chemical may cause coughing or breathing difficulties.
  • Health effects – A one-off exposure to ammonia is unlikely to cause long-term health effects. However, long-term exposure to high concentrations of the chemical could be potentially fatal.

Look Out for Hazard Labels

It may not always be obvious which chemicals are contained in certain products. It could be the case that instead of a list of all the ingredients, the hazard label is displayed on the packaging instead.

Keep Your Family Safe

Make sure you don’t bring something into your home that could have a negative effect on your family’s health.

Our essential cleaning guide offers further advice on the items to use when it comes to cleaning your kitchen oven.

Steering clear of toxic cleaners and using natural products instead ensures a sparkling oven without the potential health risks.

Get In Touch

Ovenu offers sound advice and an oven cleaning service that is second to none.

A combination of the right products and expertise ensures your oven is sparkling clean and even those hard-to-reach areas are left gleaming.

Contact Ovenu today to find out more about their professional oven cleaning service.


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.