How To Use a Self-Cleaning Oven? 5 easy Steps

You’ve seen the self-clean button on your oven, but you’ve never tried it and are afraid to start. Here are some tips on how to use a self-cleaning oven, and get the most from your oven’s built-in features!

Home appliance manufacturers often hype up the features of their products. While some features aren’t that special, the self-cleaning oven is handy for cleaning away stains, grease, and residue stuck inside the appliance. But how do you use it safely?

Self-cleaning ovens generate extreme heat to burn away any dirt inside. So first, empty the oven and ventilate the kitchen. Then, run the cycle that lasts several hours. During that time, keep children and pets away, and stay nearby to monitor the oven. When the cycle ends, give the oven another hour to cool down completely before wiping it down one final time.

Self-cleaning ovens offer plenty of value but pose their fair share of risks. Read through this guide to learn how the self-cleaning feature works and how to use it safely.

What Is A Self-Cleaning Oven?

use a self-cleaning oven

Ovens with a self-cleaning function can be incredibly useful. However, you must always remember that there are risks involved with using that feature. So, before diving into how to use a self-cleaning oven, let’s be clear about what the function does and how it works.

A self-cleaning oven has the ability to clean itself. You can check the owner’s manual to see if your current oven has a self-cleaning feature.

The feature works by raising the oven’s temperature to extremely high levels for extended periods. In doing so, the heat burns off any residue or debris inside the oven and turns it into ash.

As that process happens, the oven will produce strong smells and smoke as a natural byproduct. That’s normal and expected, especially if the oven is quite dirty inside.

Once the self-cleaning process ends, you only need to give the oven a thorough wipe-down to remove that ash and complete the cleaning process.

Naturally, the extreme heat that goes on for an extended period presents its fair share of risks. For example, anyone who touches or opens the oven door could suffer burns. Also, flammable items in or around the oven might pose a fire risk.

Despite the risks, the self-cleaning function is still a useful and important one. What matters is that you understand how to use it safely and effectively, which you will learn in the following section.

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Read: How To Clean A Self-Cleaning Oven Without Using The Self-Cleaning Feature

How Do You Use A Self-Cleaning Oven?

The key to using a self-cleaning oven is to know what to do before and after the process runs. Then, with the correct preparation and follow-up, you’ll enjoy the benefits of a self-cleaning oven while minimizing any risks.

Here are the 5 steps to use a self-cleaning oven safely and effectively:

Step 1: Clear The Oven Completely

The first step to using a self-cleaning oven is to completely empty the cooking chamber.

Remember: the self-cleaning feature on your oven involves extremely high temperatures with the purpose of burning off all residue inside. As such, you must not leave anything inside the appliance.

A. Remove the Wire Racks. Certain kinds of oven shelves can withstand the extreme heat of the self-cleaning cycle because of the material they’re made from. However, others will melt and get completely destroyed by the heat.

So, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and remove your oven shelves regardless. If your oven shelves are dirty, you can scrub and soak them in the sink while the oven takes care of the rest.

B. Remove excess debris. Try removing as much dirt and debris inside the oven as possible. That way, all the heat can be focused on the more stubborn bits that you can’t remove by hand. You don’t need to spend an hour scrubbing it. Just scoop up huge chunks of charred pizza, puddles of spilled liquid, or the easy-to-remove flakes.

Never use any commercial chemical cleaners to clean your oven during this time. Those chemicals could ignite later when you close the oven door and start the self-cleaning cycle. The chemicals could also damage the enamel coating inside your oven. The self-cleaning feature will take care of the mess!

Read: Why Frigidaire Oven Door Is Locked. How To Unlock?

Step 2: Ventilate And Clear The Space

As you read earlier, the extreme heat produced by the self-cleaning cycle will produce smoke as it burns away residue inside the oven. Simultaneously, the heat also poses a fire risk to flammable items nearby and an injury risk to anyone who might touch the appliance.

Due to that, you must prepare your kitchen before using the self-cleaning oven. 

You can do that by opening all the doors and windows to maximize ventilation, so smoke can dissipate quickly. Turning on the fan or ventilation hood inside your kitchen (if you have one) will also be incredibly helpful.

Next, move away any flammable items on or near the oven. You must remember that the oven’s side panels, window, and the door will become extremely hot due to the heat generated inside.

Lastly, keep pets and children away from the oven, and make sure your family knows not to touch the oven. Not only does that keep them safe, but it also helps them keep an eye on the oven during the cycle.

Read: How Long To Self-Clean Oven?

Step 3: Run The Cycle

When everything is ready, shut the oven door firmly and run the self-cleaning cycle. Depending on your oven brand and model, you can choose how long you want the cycle to run.

Here are some rules of thumb regarding how long you should run the self-cleaning cycle:

  • 2-3 hours for light-duty cleaning, if your oven is moderately dirty
  • 4 or more hours for heavy-duty cleaning, if your oven is exceptionally dirty

When you start the self-cleaning cycle, most ovens will lock the oven door automatically. However, yours might require you to lock it manually to prevent anyone from opening the door while the inside is scorching.

You can be extra safe by ensuring you stay nearby throughout the self-cleaning cycle. It’s also best not to run the self-cleaning cycle overnight while sleeping.

Running the self-cleaning cycle while you’re nearby and awake will minimize your risks. For example, if something were to catch fire, you could shut the oven off immediately.

Read: Is It Safe To Self-Clean Oven While Sleeping?

Step 4: Let The Oven Cool Down

You must never touch or open the oven immediately after the self-cleaning cycle ends. That’s because your oven is still extremely hot, with plenty of scalding heat inside the appliance.

Instead, give the oven another full hour to cool down naturally. You can gauge the oven’s internal temperature by briefly touching the window or sides to see if opening the door is safe.

Again, refrain from attempting to open the oven door to speed up the cooling process. You risk letting all the trapped heat escape and potentially injuring yourself.

Step 5: Wipe The Oven

After your oven has cooled down completely, you can then open the oven door. The final step of this process is to give the oven a thorough wipe-down. 

Your goal is to remove the ash left behind by the extreme heat that burns away grease, stains, and other residue stuck inside the oven.

Finally, you can slide the shelves back into the oven and continue using the oven as you normally would.

Read: Does Oven Consume A Lot Of Electricity?

Final Thoughts

Self-cleaning ovens are pretty helpful. They offer a lot of value, which is why they’re worth the extra cost compared to ovens without the self-cleaning feature.

Still, you must understand how those ovens work and the risks they pose. That way, you can enjoy their benefits while minimizing any risks involved. Most importantly, keep the oven empty before you initiate self-cleaning, ventilate the space, and ensure no flammable items are near the oven. Keep pets and children away, and ensure you’re nearby until the cycle completes.

Don’t clean the oven just before the arrival of guests, or the morning of Thanksgiving. You’ll need some time to put everything back in place and get your kitchen smelling great again. Now, if only they would invent a self-cleaning house!

Cleaning the oven regularly prevents the build-up of residue and burning smells when you cook. Use this feature every few months, depending upon your oven usage and how much mess you make!

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