A self-cleaning oven, i.e., the holy grail of appliances! Wouldn’t it be great if all our appliances were self-cleaning? I could retire from Clean My Space, and we could all kick our feet up and watch Netflix all the time. Sadly, this isn’t the case. And a lot of you have a lot of questions about self-cleaning ovens. How do self-cleaning ovens work? Do you really not need to clean self-cleaning ovens? How do you clean a self-cleaning oven? I hear you!
Whoever invented the self-cleaning oven is brilliant—cleaning the oven is one of the most difficult cleaning tasks we have to face in the kitchen. The fact that we have an appliance that can clean itself is pretty awesome. The problem is people are scared to use the self-cleaning function on their self-cleaning ovens—either it gets too hot, it smokes, and/or it smells. Are your failed recipes living on the bottom of your self-clean oven? Still? If so, here is the best, quickest, and proper way to clean your self-cleaning oven!
Should I Just Clean It By Hand?
Heck no! It can clean itself! Self-cleaning ovens have a pyrolytic coating on the inside of the oven that allows it to self-clean. It enables the oven to heat up to high temperatures and burns off any caked-on food residue, making it easy to wipe off afterward.
Cleaning it by hand, whether using chemicals or abrasive products, wears away that pyrolytic coating, making the self-clean cycle less effective. Plus, you spent all that money to have a self-cleaning oven, so why do the extra work if you don’t have to?
Review Manufacturer Instructions
Every appliance is different, so what works for one might not work for another. Most heat up to roughly the same temperature and have safety precautions in place (like self-locking doors) to keep you safe.
That said, reviewing the instructions provided with the appliance is always the first thing I do when I tackle any new task with a particular appliance. And it’s what you should do too, for your own safety and to ensure you’re caring for your appliance correctly.
Ventilate Your Space
Open any windows, run your overhead fan, and try to stay out of the kitchen. It will get hot, and, depending on how bad the inside of your oven is, there might be a smell and a bit of smoke that goes with it. You also don’t want to have the smoke linger inside your house and stick to walls and other things, or potentially set off any smoke alarms.
If you have any pets, move them as far away from the kitchen as possible. And never leave pets home alone while your oven is self-cleaning. Better yet, be home to supervise the process in case a fire alarm does go off or you encounter another issue.
Strip Your Self-Cleaning Oven
Take everything out from inside and around the oven, including the drawer underneath. Don’t forget to remove the racks inside your oven. The reason you don’t want to leave your racks inside the oven is that that shiny metallic coating will actually become dull from the high temperatures used in the cleaning process.
Racks can easily be cleaned in a sink or tub using a soft sponge and a little DIY cleaner. I often leave my racks to soak in the sink as the oven cleans, then when the self-cleaning cycle is over, my racks are ready to be scrubbed. I have a whole article on How To Clean Oven Racks, so check that out if you need more tips.
Remove Any Caked-On Food
Before starting your self-clean cycle, try to remove any heavy food residue (if possible) from the bottom or side of the oven. You can either do this by hand or find a non-scratching tool like a Skrapr to help you with this task.
While not absolutely necessary, removing caked-on food makes the self-clean cycle more effective, especially if you have some really bad spills down there. If you don’t have any notable spills in your oven, you can skip this step. And be sure to read my article on Cleaning Up Oven Spills to make your life a whole lot easier.
Running The Self Clean Cycle
Once you set the self-clean cycle, the door will lock and prevent you from opening it during the process. This is for your own protection, so if you hear a loud click and it won’t open, rest assured that it’s doing the right thing. It takes a few hours, depending on the oven, as it heats up to crazy-high temperatures. During this process, anything inside turns into greyish-white ash, kind of like what you would see remaining after a campfire. After the cycle has completed, the door will remain locked until the oven has cooled down completely and is safe enough to open.
Once the self-clean cycle has run its course, all you need to do is take a damp microfiber cloth and wipe the oven top to bottom, rinsing all surfaces thoroughly to remove any of that ashy residue. Now simply replace the oven racks and the drawer below, and your oven is good to go!
Cleaning The Glass Panel
If you notice that the glass panel on the inside of your oven door is still dirty after the self-cleaning cycle, you’ll need to use a little bit of elbow grease. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on the glass and splash with a touch of water to create a paste. Rub that all over the glass and let it sit for a half-hour to an hour.
After an hour, take a wet sponge and wipe (or scrub if required) off the baking soda. The paste should help remove any build-up, grease, or grime left on the oven door. Be careful not to put too much water on there. If water gets through the barrier around the window, you’ll forever see those drip marks! For more stubborn stains, you can try using an enzyme cleaner to remove them.
How To Clean A Self-Cleaning Oven
OK, you did it! You made it to the end of the article, and you are now a self-cleaning oven expert. Well, maybe not yet. But you will be. So don’t be intimidated by the self-cleaning cycle, and don’t waste your time cleaning your self-cleaning oven by hand!
Just remember to follow any safety precautions stated in the instructions, ventilate the area, and keep your pets far away from the kitchen.