How to Clean Your Self-Cleaning Oven

How to Clean Your Self-Cleaning Oven

Self-cleaning ovens are a wonderful invention. They have a function called pyrolytic cleaning. “Pyrolytic” means that it uses pyrolysis, “the thermochemical decomposition of organic materials at high temperatures”. It heats the oven to between 880°F to 1000°F to convert organic material into ash and carbon. 

Pyrolysis is not a new process. It’s been used for many centuries to turn wood into charcoal, and the ancient Egyptians used pyrolysis of wood to create methanol for use in embalming. Using pyrolysis for self-cleaning ovens, introduced in the 1960’s, is a relatively new application.

Cleaning a self-cleaning oven is not simply a matter of pushing a button and forgetting it for a few hours. There are some things you have to do. The very first thing to do is carefully read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Those instructions will be specific to your model of oven. Generally, though, here are the steps.

  1. Make sure your oven is cold before you begin.
  2. Remove any pans or foil from the oven.
  3. Remove the oven racks (you’ll have to clean those separately). This is an important step because exposing the racks to the high heat could cause them to warp and discolor. You might also damage the rack guides.
  4. Manually wipe up as much grease or baked-on food as you easily can.
  5. Check your owner’s manual to see if you should add water. Some self-cleaning ovens are designed for steam and may even have a steam clean setting separate from the high heat cleaning cycle. If present, this cycle will run at a lower temperature for a much shorter time making it more economical.
  6. Close the oven door and start the self-cleaning function. The door will automatically lock on many models as soon as the self-cleaning starts and will not unlock until the cycle is finished and the oven has cooled down. This is a good thing. You don’t want to be exposed to a blast of 800°F or 1000°F air.
  7. It’s a good idea to turn on your range hood or open a window to remove any smoke, fumes, or odors that are generated during the self-cleaning cycle. Keep pets (birds particularly) away from the area.

Most models will automatically shut off the self-cleaning function after it has cleaned the oven. How long the cycle takes depends on how soiled the oven is. It can take anywhere up to four hours to complete. When the self-cleaning cycle has finished and the oven has cooled down again, the door will unlock. Again, check your manual to be sure the automatic locking feature is on your model. 

When the oven door has unlocked, wipe the oven down to remove the ash and residue with a damp cloth or sponge.

What If the Oven Doesn’t Come Clean After the Self-Clean Cycle?

Sometimes, the oven can look not quite clean after the self-cleaning cycle. You may see spots or a film. These might be deposits from burned off food that can be removed with a water and white vinegar solution.

For stubborn stains, make a paste of baking soda and warm water. Coat the oven with the paste and leave it on overnight. For some extra cleaning oomph, you can spritz the paste with some white vinegar. (It’s also fun to watch the fizz). This also works well for the glass on the inside of your oven door.

Things to Remember

When manually cleaning or wiping your self-cleaning oven, never never never use abrasive cleaning pads on any part of the oven, including the glass. Steel wool, metal scrapers, scouring pads, wire brushes, and other abrasives will scratch the coating and glass. Use soft sponges, cloths, or paper towels to maintain the integrity of the oven’s interior.

Some commercial oven cleaning products claim to be safe for self-cleaning ovens but be very sure to check your owner’s manual to see if the manufacturer agrees. These products have been known to cause etching and discoloration of the liner and can impair the self-cleaning function.

To keep your oven and all your major appliances operating at their best, you can count on C&W Appliance Service for all your repair and maintenance needs.  Call us at (855) 358-1496 or contact us online for prompt service.


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