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Updated December 11th, 2018 – While turning your oven’s self-cleaning feature on, and setting it as hot as it can get for an hour or two, may be quicker and easier than getting out the scrubbing brush, oven cleaners can and do help you avoid a smoky mess in the kitchen.
The self-cleaning mode on modern electric ovens are hard on the appliance, and you run the risk of burning out the fuse if you do not use a cleaner to help things along.
What’s the deal with self-cleaning ovens?
Some of the newer self-cleaning ovens have hidden filaments under the floor and at the ceiling to avoid scorching and excessive smoking if some rogue drips decide to make a desperate escape from your roasting turkey. While this does make it easier to clean, the heating vents from these hidden filaments can become clogged without you knowing it.
As a result, the temperatures near them can be far more than the 400–500° degrees to which you set the oven. If this happens, you might be unlucky enough to experience one of the most common reasons for calling the oven repairman: control panels burning and fuses popping.
Self-cleaning ovens aren’t going anywhere. However, as very few people wake up on their day off and excitedly exclaim, “I think I’ll scrub the oven today!” As such, treating your self-cleaning oven with an oven cleaner can save you a good deal of time and money.
How do I clean my oven using the self-cleaning function?
When it comes to setting the cleaning cycle, it is best to err on the side of caution and not go for the full four hours. Using it for only an hour or two every month should help to prevent the fuses from blowing out.
Everything that can be removed from the oven should be—racks, drip trays, and foil should all be dealt with separately. The shelves can be soaked for a few hours and cleaned with an oven cleaner, most of which are available in any good supermarket or online retailer. Also, anything at the bottom that can be removed should be removed.
Which oven cleaner is best for self-cleaning ovens?
Carbona Bio Oven Cleaner
An affordable, powerful, and natural product that battles through grime like it has a personal gripe. It requires a little more elbow grease than products that use harsher chemicals, but this product is safe and very efficient.
Keeps things simple and natural, and you probably have some hiding at the back of one of your cupboards. Just mix it up with a little water and spread the paste around liberally, leave for an hour, and wipe off the fatty, crunchy sludge before running the self-clean cycle.
Mr. Muscle Oven and Grill
As the title would suggest, Mr. Muscle is a tough, no-nonsense cleaner. It may well be the best value for money, and you are sure to find it at your local supermarket.
Looking to restore your oven back to original shine? Of course, you are – why else would you be here.
Krud Kutter is a foam action cleaner that sprays on, turns into a foam, then wipes off with minimal effort. Of course, if you have an exceptionally grimy oven, then it may take more than one coating or a little extra old fashion elbow grease.
The good people at Krud Kutter made sure this cleaner is free of aroma, a godsend when cleaning low ventilation areas like ovens.
Easy-Off Fume Free Max Oven Cleaner
In my opinion, Easy-off is the one to buy. It does the job you want and does it well. At around ten bucks, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than calling someone out to replace a fuse that has blown due to a buildup of grease in the vents. Even the toughest and oldest burnt-on stains are no match for Easy-Off. (It may not take a genius to know where they got the name!)
With minimal aromas and the option leaving the product to soak overnight—if your oven hasn’t been cleaned in longer than you would care to admit—this is a go-to product for ovens, self-cleaning or otherwise.
Can I clean my self-cleaning oven by hand?
First, I’d like to note that self-cleaning ovens are exponentially more expensive than one that doesn’t have a self-clean option. If you want to clean your oven manually, you should strongly consider saving your money and opt for an oven without the self-clean feature.
Inside a self-cleaning oven, there exists what is called a pyrolytic coating, a coating that facilitates the pyrolytic cleaning method. The pyrolytic cleaning method is a process that uses extreme temperatures to remove dirt by turning it into ash so it can easily be wiped away.
Using detergents or any other abrasive chemical will remove the coating that allows the self-cleaning process to exist in the first place. So the short answer to this question is no. Although, who wants to clean their oven in the first place manually?
Types of self-cleaning ovens
There is more than one type of self-cleaning oven. The most common type uses the traditional method of using extremely high temperatures, turning everything into ash so you can easily wipe it clean afterward. The second type of self-cleaning oven harnesses the power of steam. Some higher end ranges will offer both options to you in the same unit.
If you have a high-temperature cleaning oven, there are some things that you will need to know. The oven will typically reach temperatures from 900 to 1,000 degrees, more than double the normal temperatures (sometimes more than triple) so be sure you don’t have anything on the stove top.
The area should also be well ventilated. When cooking it is inevitable that food particles or grease will find its way to the floor and walls of the oven cavity. Once that food begins to burn during the high-temp cleaning cycle, it will start to smoke. If enough smoke begins to build up carbon monoxide can become a safety risk. No worries though, just open some windows to let the smoke out and you’ll be fine.
Steam cleaning ovens let you use the self-cleaning option more often and even better, it doesn’t take nearly as long saving you quite a bit on the electric bill. To use this feature, all you have to do is wipe large debris out of your oven, add the recommended amount of water to the bottom, and turn on the steam clean feature. Thirty minutes later, the oven will be clean -of course, you will need to wipe out all excess moisture and debris once it cools down.
Clean the oven first?
What!! You just said not to manually clean the oven though!!!
While it is true you should never scrub your self-cleaning oven down with abrasive sponges and cleaners, it is still necessary to get large debris out of your oven first. It will reduce the amount of smoke and stench created during the cleaning process, and it will cause less stress for your oven
What if my oven isn’t completely clean afterward
If the self-cleaning cycle has finished and you notice that everything isn’t quite up to par for you, you can use some nonabrasive oven cleaner (any of the solutions we discussed earlier will work) to wipe it down one more time. After the cleaning cycle, it should be relatively easy to wipe off any excess grime.
If you notice that the glass on the oven is still somewhat grimy, sprinkle some baking soda on the glass and add a bit of water. Once the baking soda turns to a paste, wipe it down with a soft cloth.
Best overall cleaner
Oven cleaner should be easy to use and even easier to find. It shouldn’t cost too much and it certainly shouldn’t ruin the self-cleaning coat inside of the oven. The product that checks each of the boxes – and my go-to cleaner – is the Easy Off fume free max.
Anything else I should know?
Whichever product you decide to use, it’s important that you don’t set the oven’s self-cleaning cycle to run while you are out of the house. Accidents can happen, and you don’t want the rest of your house to look like the inside of your oven!
It’s a good idea to run the cycle early in the morning, or after it has cooled off in the evening if you live in an area hot enough to require air conditioning. The cleaning will produce quite a lot of heat, and you may not want to put any more stress on your air conditioning unit than necessary.
The self-cleaning oven is an awesome invention. However, there are some design flaws with the new ovens that have this feature.
Today, ovens typically have their heat source located under the oven itself, and it’s perfect for daily use because it means that your appliance won’t smoke when something drips to the bottom. But it’s not so good for the self-cleaning process.
The coil being underneath the oven means that there is very little room for ventilation, and the extreme heat causes the fuse to blow.
To circumvent this, use the self-cleaning feature sparingly, and only run it for about an hour at a time, rather than the full four-hour cycle (yes we said this already, but it really is that important).
Be sure to keep children and pets far away from the smoke produced by the oven, especially birds. Always use oven cleaning products as directed, and follow the self-cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Use rimmed baking trays to keep things tidy, so you don’t have a mess, to begin with!
Clean early, and clean often, my friends!
Got some grill grates that need cleaning? Read my guide on the best way to clean porcelain coated cast iron grill grates.
Not going to be using the self-cleaning feature? See the best heavy-duty oven cleaners!
For more kitchen cleaning product recommendations, see these posts on the best garbage disposal for septic systems, eco-friendly paper towels and the best mops for hardwood floors and the very best pan set for the money.