Take care when using oven cleaners


CONTACT: Wes Stubblefield, (256) 340-2113
Karen Landers, M.D., (256) 383-1231

During the holiday season, many household ovens get increased use, and the resulting spills from fatty meats and poultry, cheeses, syrupy pies and other food has led people to use oven cleaners to dissolve baked-on food and grease. 

The Alabama Department of Public Health reminds the public to follow all instructions and heed all product safety warnings to avoid contact with eyes, skin and nose and breathing fumes from oven cleaners. Most oven cleaners have high pH levels, making them caustic. When an oven cleaner is used and the cleaner has not been wiped off completely, smoke results when it burns off. Oven cleaners can cause burns or irritation of any exposed tissue—the mouth, skin, eyes or airway. If swallowed, oven cleaners can cause vomiting and burns to the lips, mouth, throat and the digestive tract. 

Even though most symptoms are mild, a burn on the lips can cause swelling, redness and blistering in the mouth and throat. A chemical burn in the throat can lead to swelling, which can block the windpipe and cause the person to drool. A burn in the skin can cause redness, peeling, blistering and swelling, and lead to deeper, more severe burns. When inhaled, oven cleaners can irritate airways, causing symptoms ranging from coughing and chest pain to shortness of breath.

“In reviewing the number of calls we have received at the Alabama Poison Information Center, we often have multiple exposures reported during one call because entire households are sharing oven-baked items,” said Jessica (Rivera) Pescatore, Clinical Director at Alabama Poison Information Center at Children’s of Alabama. “Most exposures result from spraying oven cleaners and forgetting to wipe off or inadequately removing them prior to using the oven for cooking.”

Proper cleaning and maintenance of air fryers is also needed; however, oven cleaners should not be used to clean air fryers.

Precautions include wearing thick, long protective gloves, safety glasses, and possibly a respirator to avoid chemicals entering your lungs. Make sure to have adequate ventilation, and call poison control if ingested. The 24/7 toll-free number for the Alabama Poison Information Center at Children’s of Alabama is 800-222-1222 for poison advice for all ages.




County health departments throughout Alabama provide a wide range of confidential and professional services. Contact your local county health department for additional information.

Mission: To promote, protect, and improve Alabama’s health

Vision: Healthy People. Healthy Communities. Healthy Alabama.