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Stuck aluminum foil on oven bottom?

People have been lining their ovens with aluminum foil to protect it from drips for decades, but the very trick once used to protect an old oven can destroy a new one in just minutes. New ovens have the heating element below the bottom liner, which makes the bottom of the oven get almost as hot as the heating element itself. It may seem impossible to remove, but thanks to our many wonderful site readers who have encountered this problem, we know of three methods that can remove the foil.
 

The Oven Cleaner Method

Many oven cleaner labels, such as Easy Off, warn not to use it on aluminum because it will eat the aluminum. In this case, that’s exactly what we want to happen.

You Will Need:

  • Oven cleaner (sodium hydroxide-based solution)

Steps:

  1. Let the oven cool completely.

  2. Carefully scrape off as much foil as possible with a razor blade.

  3. Ventilate the area.

  4. Spray the oven cleaner on the spots.

  5. Leave the cleaner on the spots for about 20 minutes, then wipe the area clean.

  6. Repeat the process as many times as necessary to remove the foil.

  7. Wash the area to remove any remaining residue from the oven cleaner.
     

The Naval Jelly Method

Dozens of site users have written in to say that they have successfully used Naval Jelly to remove the foil residue. However, many have also said that the Naval Jelly left some shiny or dark spots in place of the foil. Some people believe these spots are due to the Teflon that’s in non-stick aluminum foil. This doesn’t always happen, and to those it does, they usually say the spots are barely noticeable. Another commenter says that Naval Jelly can “remove bluing from steel” and should therefore not be used on blue oven interiors

You Will Need:

  • Naval Jelly Rust Dissolver (available at a hardware store)

Steps:

  1. Let the oven cool completely.

  2. Carefully scrape off as much foil as possible with a razor blade.

  3. Ventilate the area well.

  4. Put on gloves.

  5. Apply a thick layer of the Naval Jelly on the foil spots.

  6. Leave the jelly on the foil for 24 hours. They recommend leaving the oven door open and turning on the range fan or ventilating the area.

  7. Wipe the area clean.

  8. If needed, use a razor blade to remove more pieces of foil that have been loosened by the jelly. Instead of using a razor blade, you may be able to use a piece of tape to pull off the foil.

  9. Repeat the process as many times as necessary to remove all the foil. It may take two or more attempts to get it all.

  10. Wash the area to remove any residue from the jelly.
     

The Steam Method

As a warning though, do not use plain vinegar without neutralizing it with baking soda. Several others have done that (tried to use only vinegar, not steam) and said that the fumes from the pure vinegar lead to corrosion in other parts of the oven, such as on the racks or fan. Baking soda is a base and will neutralize the acid in the vinegar.

You Will Need:

  • White vinegar

  • Baking soda

  • A towel

  • Water
     

Steps to Remove the Foil:

  1. Put some baking soda in a bowl, then pour in a little white vinegar. The mixture will fizz and foam up; that is the reaction of the acid and base neutralizing each other. Add a very small amount of vinegar at a time and stir it in thoroughly with the baking soda, then continue adding more until you make a thick paste that is about the consistency of peanut butter or toothpaste, not soup.

  2. Spread the paste over the foil and leave it on overnight.

  3. The next morning, wipe off the paste. It may have dried out.

  4. Soak a towel with water. (Be sure to use a cotton towel, not a synthetic fiber like polyester or rayon which is more susceptible to heat.) Make sure the towel has enough water on it that it will not dry out and catch fire.

  5. Fold the towel and lay it over the foil area.

  6. Turn on the oven at 200 degrees F, close the door, and wait 30 minutes. The water on the towel will turn to steam that will cause the foil to release from the oven floor.

  7. Wait for the oven to cool, then carefully peel off the pieces of foil.
     

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Many site users have also recommended using The Works Toilet Bowl Cleaner instead of Naval Jelly as it works much faster. However, they also say that you must wear gloves and that the fumes are intense. Also, this tip may no longer be useful; as of 2017, The Works has decreased the amount of hydrogen chloride (it’s active ingredient) from 20% to 9.5%, so people who had success with this product in the past may have been using the stronger version.

  • Several people have had success using Drano crystals. The Drano crystals work for the same reason as The Oven Cleaner Method – they both contain lye (sodium hydroxide).

  • If none of the above methods work to remove the foil, the bottom plate of the oven can sometimes be replaced relatively cheaply, usually for less than $100.00. Contact your manufacturer for a replacement part and guidance on installing it. This is only true if the bottom plate is a separate part (as opposed to the entire interior of the oven being all one piece).

  • A cookie sheet can also be placed on a lower rack to catch any drips or spills. Do NOT put the cookie sheet on the base of the oven though or you will end up with a similar problem.

  • If you have melted foil in the oven, do NOT run the self cleaning cycle on the oven. One site user reported that doing so baked the foil on worse, making it more difficult to remove, and another mentioned that the fumes are intense/horrible and likely a health-hazard. According to The Aluminum Association, in the high temperature of a self-clean cycle, the aluminum could also cause an explosion.