Plastic dishware and ovens don’t mix, but everyone makes mistakes. If you accidentally forgot a plastic cutting board or bowl in the oven and switched it on, you’re likely left with a melted plastic nightmare. Don’t fret, you can clean the oven yourself with materials you likely already have at home. If you have a gas or electric oven, cooling the oven is the best method. Heating works better for electric and self-cleaning ovens. Either way, you’ll have your oven back in commission in no time.
Remove the oven rack and put it into the freezer. You can leave it in there for a few hours to ensure that it is adequately cooled. This will make the hardened plastic more brittle and it will be easier to scrape off.
Alternatively, you can fill a bag with ice to cool the plastic. This works for the rack, the coils, and the bottom of the oven. Leave the ice on the affected area for 15 to 30 minutes.
Scrape the brittle plastic. Once you remove the rack from the freezer or have cooled it thoroughly with the ice, you can begin to scrape the plastic. Using a razor blade or scraping tool, gently scrape at the melted plastic.You may have to apply some pressure to peel it away from the metal. Continue scraping until you have removed the plastic from the rack, coils, and bottom of the oven entirely.
The plastic may be sharp, so take care to wear gloves and use caution to avoid cuts.
Sweep the plastic remnants into the trash. You’ll be left with plastic shavings and pieces on the bottom of the oven. Carefully sweep these out using gloves or a brush.
You may also choose to put a bowl or pot under the rack when scraping to catch the plastic as it falls.
Clean the oven as usual. Before you use the oven again, be sure to wipe it with your usual oven cleaner to ensure the plastic residue is completely removed.
Using Heat to Remove the Plastic
Heat your oven. Be sure to use the lowest setting, usually no hotter than 200 °F (93 °C). Stay nearby to turn it off before it starts to smoke. Plastic fumes are not only unpleasant, but they’re also toxic. Once you can smell the plastic melting, turn off the oven.
Use a heating gun or hair dryer to heat the plastic. This is a great alternative to using the oven’s heating element. Warming the plastic directly with these tools may take longer but will make it easier to avoid burns or overheating.
Scrape the warm plastic on the rack. Using a wooden spoon to scrape the now malleable plastic will avoid scratching the surface of the oven and racks. If the plastic hardens again as you’re working, simply shut the oven and warm it again.
To avoid burns, wear long sleeves and don gloves or oven mitts while you work.
If possible, remove the rack entirely using oven mitts and scrape over your sink.
Be sure to cover the drain to avoid plastic clogging your pipes and causing a whole new problem.
If you cannot remove the rack, consider putting an oven-safe pot under the rack to catch the scrapings as you work.
Remove the warm plastic from the heating element. Using the same process as above, scrape the warm plastic off the bottom of the oven and from the heating element.
Be sure to use a scraper that will not melt while touching the warm coils, so avoid plastic or wood for this step. Instead, opt for a razor blade or scraping tool.
Remove the plastic scrapings. Ensure the oven and heating element are completely cool before you start this step.
Use gloves or a brush to avoid cutting yourself on the potentially sharp plastic.
Wipe the oven clean. Using your regular oven cleaner, wipe out any of the remaining residue before using it to cook.