How To Use A Self-Cleaning Oven

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How does a self cleaning oven work? Self-cleaning ovens work by creating extremely high heat to burn away spills on the walls and oven bottom. The cycle generally runs from three to six hours and can produce an unpleasant smell as grease burns away.

How To Clean A Self-Cleaning Oven

Your owner’s manual should provide the instructions for activating your self-cleaning oven cycle.

  • Once the oven has reached the proper self clean oven temperature (typically upwards of 900F), be prepared for some nasty smells and fumes.
  • After the oven has cooled completely, you should only need to wipe out some ash and your oven will be clean.

Many self-cleaning ovens have a lock that prevents you from opening the oven until the self-cleaning cycle is over.

Not all ovens or all cleaning cycles are built equally. Firing up the self-cleaning cycle can be frightening as your oven (and many of the surfaces in your kitchen) grow extremely hot.

Additionally, fumes can be worrisome to many and dangerous to those with asthma or other respiratory concerns.

How does a self-cleaning oven work? By creating an incinerator in your kitchen and burning away spilled grease. Perhaps a better question is “should you use your self-cleaning oven feature?”

SEE ALSO: How To Clean Baking Sheets​

Self-Cleaning Oven Dangers

self cleaning oven dangers

Burning grease produces fumes that contain carbon monoxide.

  • Anyone with respiratory issues should not be in the house while you’re running the self-cleaning feature, and pets should be relocated as well.
  • After the cleaning is over, you’ll need to ventilate the house to bring in plenty of fresh air before re-introducing pets, children and anyone with a lung complaint back into the space.

Self-cleaning oven dangers may include carbon monoxide from burned grease. If your oven has a non-stick coating, the extreme heat can also release toxic fumes from the Teflon. Per kitchen safety expert Cecilia Harsch, Teflon fumes can cause flu-like symptoms in children and adults. They can cause extreme illness in some pets and may kill birds.​

Self-cleaning oven fumes will seep into soft goods and carpets. Depending on the layout of your home, you may not be able to contain these fumes. No matter how well you ventilate your space, the smell of charred grease can become embedded in curtains, cushions and rugs.

Because the self-cleaning oven temperature required to reduce dried grease to ash is approximately 600 degrees, running the self-cleaning cycle on your oven is an endeavor that takes some planning.

Relocating children and pets to safer locations, taking the steps to maximize ventilation and blocking out the necessary time for the cycle can make the self-cleaning cycle more labor intensive than simply cleaning the oven while it’s cold.

Natural Self Cleaning Oven Tips

While heat is a natural cleansing agent, it has risks as noted above. Chemical oven cleaners reduce the need for extreme heat but can be hazardous to the eyes and skin of the person using the product.

Natural oven cleaners require a bit more elbow grease. Per authorities at Naturally Savvy, convection ovens can be cleaned with two lemons and some water.

  • Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juices into a baking dish.
  • Place the lemon rinds and 1/3 of a cup of water into the dish and bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit / 121 degrees Celsius for thirty minutes.
  • This steamed lemon juice will loosen buildup, and you can scrub it away when the oven cools.

Another good option is to spray down the oven with vinegar and dust it with baking soda. You can make a puddle of vinegar, water and baking soda on the floor of the oven as needed. Allow this to bubble for thirty minutes and scrub away loosened grease and food particles.​

Final Thoughts

If you’ve never used your self-cleaning feature before, seek guidance from people who have. Because the process takes so long and gets so hot, it can be frightening. While ovens are built to tolerate the heat, the smoke, smells and anxiety may produce more stress than users can tolerate.​

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.