What Are the Chemicals Found in Oven Cleaner?

Ovens are messy appliances, and the high temperatures used for cooking can make spills and stains nearly impossible to clean. Many commercial oven cleaners on the market make the task easier to handle. However, there are several chemicals in traditional oven cleaners that may cause harm to your health.

Sodium Hydroxide

An oven cleaner contains several chemicals.

Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, is a corrosive agent found in most oven cleaners. Sodium hydroxide can cause damage to the eyes, lungs and skin. In small doses, the chemical may cause eye irritation. Exposure to higher concentrations or exposure over long periods of time can cause permanent damage to the cornea. According to the National Library of Medicine, ingesting lye causes painful swallowing almost immediately. Lye also irritates the skin; a concentration of only 4 percent can cause irritation.


Butane is a colorless gas added to many oven cleaners. According to the National Library of Medicine, exposure to butane in low doses does not have any adverse health effects. However, long-term or high-dose exposure may lead to health problems or even sudden death. Butane may lead to frostbite-like symptoms on the skin, hallucinations, or permanent damage to the central nervous system if prolonged exposure occurs.


Monoethanolamine is a colorless substance with a strong fish-like odor. Monoethanolamine has the potential to cause several health problems in humans. According to the National Library of Medicine, a concentration of 5.9 percent or higher irritates the skin. Monoethanolamine exposure may also burn the eyes, cause allergic reactions, irritate asthma and increase blood pressure. In large doses, monoethanolamine can lead to a coma or death.

Diethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether

Diethylene glycol monobutyl ether is a colorless liquid added to many oven cleaners. According to the National Library of Medicine, diethylene glycol monobutyl ether is not harmful to the skin, eyes or respiratory tract in small doses. At high doses or over long periods of exposure, serious health problems may develop in humans. At the first stage, humans may experience nausea, headaches or depression of the central nervous system. After continual exposure, these problems could develop into severe abdominal pain, renal failure, or lesions on the brain.

About the Author

Amelia Jenkins has more than eight years of professional writing experience, covering financial, environmental and travel topics. Her work has appeared on MSN and various other websites and her articles have topped the best-of list for sites like Bankrate and Kipplinger. Jenkins studied English at Tarrant County College.