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How Do Self Cleaning Ovens Work?

How Do Self Cleaning Ovens Work?

Having a self-cleaning oven is a dream come true for most people because ovens can get really dirty. All the roasting and baking will force you to get on your knees and scrub the oven to ensure that it’s spotless. However, gone are the days when you had to scrub to get your oven to shine and look like new.  Currently, both electric ovens and gas ranges have a self-clean feature that makes the cleaning process simpler. Although the self-clean quality was initially regulated to high-end ovens, it’s now available to most household ovens.

Do not be scared if you have a messy oven after a whole day of baking; the self-cleaning button can work magic for you. Here is how self-cleaning ovens work:

How to Use the Self-Clean Feature on My Oven

There are two types of self-cleaning ovens; the ones that clean with high heat or “pyrolytic” cleaning and those that clean with steam. Regardless of the type you have, both save you from hefty cleaning. Here is how the two types function:

Steam cleaning

This type of self-clean oven works with water and heat to loosen soils. However, a manual clean will be required afterward. The best thing about steam is that it offers lower temperatures, no odors, and no burn-off.

You can initiate the self-clean cycle of a steam-based model by pouring a cup of distilled water into the oven’s floor and setting your oven to “steam-clean” mode. During the self-clean cycle, the oven door will remain unlocked, and the interior temperature will rise to about 2500F. This high heat generates steam, which softens and loosens any food that remains.

High-heat cleaning

With this type, the oven usually cranks to very high temperatures ranging between 8000 to 10000F. This extremely high temperature burns off any residue and turns it into ash.

If you have this model, you can initiate a self-clean cycle by closing your oven’s door, then setting the oven to self-clean mode. In most models, the door will lock automatically, and the temperatures will rise between 800 to 1,0000F. This high heat is sufficient to incinerate food remains.

This self-clean cycle usually lasts between two to six hours; once it’s complete and the oven has cooled, the oven’s door unlocks automatically.

Regardless of the type of self-clean feature that your oven has, you’ll need to follow these general steps when using the feature:

  • Prep the oven: It’s best to ensure that the oven’s surface doesn’t have any significant spills before using the self-cleaning feature. Additionally, read your oven’s manual to find out whether the racks are self-cleanable. If they are not, remove them to prevent any potential warping and discoloration.
  • Ensure the door is locked: Many oven models will close automatically before the self-cleaning cycle begins. However, it’s best to double-check and shut the door if necessary.
  • Turn on the vent: It would help if you ensured that there’s good ventilation in your home when using the self-clean feature. A food or ventilation fan will help remove odors and heat caused by the burning off.
  • Let the feature run: Turn on the self-clean button and let the oven self-clean.
  • Wipe it down: When the oven completely cools, wipe it down using a damp towel to clean up any residue.

How Long Does a Self-Cleaning Oven Cleaning Cycle Take?

It will help if you do not run your oven’s self-cleaning cycle when you’re not at home. In most modern ovens, a cycle can last between two to six hours. After these hours lapse, your oven will be scorching; therefore, it is advisable that you run the self-clean cycle early in the morning or late at night during summertime.

What Happens if You Turn Off a Self-Cleaning Oven Early?

A self-cleaning oven will turn off automatically after cleaning is complete. However, you can turn off the self-cleaning oven early, but you should note that the cleaning process won’t be done.

How to Stop a Self-Cleaning Oven

If the time for self-cleaning the oven is set and not completed and you have the electrical range control (ERC) model, you’ll have to turn it off by pressing the clear, cancel, or off button.

If you have a mechanical timing model, you can turn it off by pressing the “stop” knob. After that, turn off the oven and change the oven temperature from the “self-clean” function. If the self-cleaning loop doesn’t stop, you’ll have to switch off the power at the fuse box or your household breaker.

Is It Safe to Use the Self-Cleaning Oven?

There are many conflicting opinions regarding the safety of a self-cleaning oven. While manufacturers are less likely to include a feature that could cause potential problems, the self-cleaning feature isn’t free from risks.

Here are some self-cleaning oven dangers and risks:

  • Oven fumes: Self-cleaning ovens reach incredibly high temperatures, and they produce fumes from the burning of enamel lining and food particles. Additionally, they can produce dangerous fumes into the air, accompanied by an unpleasant burning smell. These fumes often circulate in an apartment and can affect occupants.
  • Fire hazards: These ovens can be fire hazards because of the extremely high temperatures. You might remove all food particles before cleaning; however, the temperatures can get very high during the cleaning process. Additionally,  grease can ignite a fire. Further, the oven’s fuse might blow out due to extreme heat during the self-cleaning cycle. When this happens, the oven’s control panel might burn to lead to a fire.
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Some self-cleaning ovens can produce carbon monoxide emissions into your home, which can kill you. This gas is invisible, odorless, tasteless, and affects the air quality of your home.
  • Cost of running the feature: It is expensive to run an oven that is that hot for hours. Your electricity or gas cost is most likely to arise when using the feature.

How to Make a Self-Cleaning Oven Safe to Use

If you choose to use the self-cleaning feature of your oven, you can take these steps to mitigate the risks associated with such ovens:

  • Remove any visible debris: Before using the feature, remove all chunks of food, and wipe spills with a water-dampened rag.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home, especially in the kitchen, to monitor any harmful fumes.
  • Eliminate all pans, pans, aluminum foil, and any metal before running a self-clean cycle.
  • Venting a self-cleaning oven: Before starting any self-clean cycle, ensure that the oven vent is uncovered. The oven vent is usually located behind the oven door handle or above or below the oven door.
  • Be keen to use the self-cleaning feature only when the oven is heavily soiled. For example, you can schedule the self-clean feature after the holidays or special occasions when any malfunction won’t interfere with your plans.

How to Get Rid of Self Cleaning Oven Fumes

The fumes released by a self-cleaning oven can be harmful to a household’s occupants and the indoor air quality because they contain carbon monoxide. The amount of carbon monoxide released will depend on how dirty your oven is.

When the self-cleaning process is complete, you might note a unique odor of toxic fumes that can linger for some time in your household. If you want to minimize the number of fumes, it is best to switch on the kitchen exhaust and open up the windows before the self-cleaning process begins.

Cross ventilation will help you to do away with the burning odor and fumes to an extent.

If you have a self-cleaning oven, you can also get air purifiers with HEPA filters and suitable air cartridges to help you capture the toxic fumes. The air-purifiers will also help you improve, purify, maintain indoor air quality, and bring the quality back to safe levels.

How Efficient Is a Self-Cleaning Oven?

If you don’t love cleaning the oven, you may wonder whether a self-cleaning oven is efficient and worth your money. Here is what you should know about its efficiency:

  • Less effort in cleaning the oven: Unlike manual cleaning, which requires a lot of scrubbing and bending, a self-cleaning oven can tremendously cut down your cleaning efforts. Although a self-clean cycle might take up to six hours, the oven is still getting clean automatically, and you can do something constructive with your time.
  • No chemical fumes during cleaning: Cleaning your oven manually calls for the use of smelly formulas and powerful oven cleaners. Additionally, you will have to wear protective gear such as rubber gloves, masks, or eyeglasses if you have any problems with the scents. Your oven’s self-clean feature doesn’t use any chemicals; it relies on extreme heat for the cleaning process.
  • Time-Saving: Although a complete self-cleaning cycle might take a maximum of six hours, you can do other tasks during this time.
  • Long-term cost consideration: It is slightly expensive to buy an oven with the self-clean feature; however, it might be less costly in the long run. Manual cleaning requires you to be scouring pads and oven cleaners regularly.

Even though self-cleaning is efficient, as discussed above, it might not be very energy-efficient. Running the oven at extreme temperatures means that your electricity bill will shoot. However, you can minimize the electricity cost by running the self-clean feature immediately after cooking if you remember to remove food debris before cooking when the oven is cool. Using the feature when the oven is warm will help you save some electricity during the heating process.

Can You Leave the Racks in a Self-Cleaning Oven?

Manufacturers and other experts do not recommend leaving racks in the oven during a self-clean cycle. The racks may discolor or warp due to the extreme heat created during a cycle. Additionally, the contraction and expansion can damage the rack guides of the porcelain oven cavity.  

Do I Have to Hand Clean the Inside of a Self-Cleaning Oven?

You don’t have to hand clean the inside of your self-cleaning oven. Your oven has a pyrolytic coating on the inside, which allows it to self-clean. This coating enables your oven to heat up to extremely high temperatures, burning off any residue and turning it to ash. When the process is complete, you can wipe the oven afterwards using a water-dampened rag.

However, if you don’t want to turn the self-clean feature frequently, you can wipe down liquids or wet food from the ceiling, floor, sidewalls, and inner-glass door using a water-dampened rag. You can also schedule a monthly cleaning to clean the racks and your oven’s interior.

If you decide to hand-clean your self-cleaning oven, you should never use chemical cleaners or abrasive products because they can easily damage the interior enamel coating.

How to Clean the Outside of a Self-Cleaning Oven

 You can wipe down your self-cleaning oven after every use. Here is how to do it:

  • Run a slightly soapy, warm, and damp cloth over the exterior and cooktop after it has cooled down, then wipe it dry.
  • You can also use a vinegar and water solution to remove any streaking and soapy residue. You can make the solution by mixing three cups of water and a cup of vinegar. Then, spray the surface and wipe it up.
  • It would help if you didn’t let spills sit for too long because some of them may cause discoloration. Additionally, be keen not to use too much water because you don’t want any of it to get to the vents located at the top of the door.

Remember not to use scouring pads or abrasive cleaners because they will leave scratches behind.

Check this too: Kitchenaid Superba Oven Troubleshooting

The thought of having a self-cleaning oven is attractive because of the convenience it offers. However, there are certain things that you must consider before starting a self-cleaning cycle. One of the issues is how to deal with fumes, which might cause respiratory problems. The best thing is that there are specific measures that you can put in place to reduce the effects of the fumes.

Using a self-cleaning oven is convenient. However, you have to do some little prep work before a cycle begins and a little clean work after it’s done.