How Self-cleaning Ovens Work

Basic Instructions for Self-cleaning Ovens

Begin by reading the owner's manual. Many consumers are nervous about using the self-cleaning feature because of the extreme heat, but being informed will boost your confidence.

Clean according to your cooking habits. Frequent spillovers and splatters are best handled with frequent cleaning. Pick a time to clean when you'll be at home but out of the kitchen for a few hours -- to prevent breathing any fumes.


Here's some basic advice for using a pyrolyticself-cleaning oven:

  • Remove all pans and foil from inside the oven before you clean. Usually, you'll need to remove the racks and wash them separately. Metal racks will discolor and be harder to slide if you leave them in. Enamel-covered racks can be cleaned along with the rest of the oven.
  • Clean up as much baked-on food or grease as you can easily remove. You can scrape it off with a non-scratch spatula.
  • Lock the oven door. You may need to fasten it with a lever or it may lock automatically. This prevents anyone from opening it during the cleaning cycle and being blasted by the heat.
  • Time the cleaning using the controls provided. The time you choose depends on how dirty the oven is. Two hours is usually plenty for light cleaning. Three or four hours might be needed for a dirty oven.
  • Let the oven cool after the cleaning cycle. The oven will turn off automatically when the cleaning cycle is over, but you won't be able to open it until it cools down to regular baking temperatures.
  • Wipe away ash residue with damp cloth. You can use your vacuum cleaner if the residue is loose [source: GE Free-Standing].

To use the steam-cleaning cycle, pour water into the bottom of the cool oven -- the owner's manual will tell you exactly how much. Shut the door and press the "clean" button. The cycle should take less than an hour. Don't open the oven door during the cleaning process. When the cycle is finished, let the oven cool down. Then loosen dirt using a scrub brush or nylon scouring pad. Soak up any remaining water with a sponge or cloth and leave the door open to air-dry the oven.

If you have a continuous cleaning oven, wipe up residue at least weekly. You can help the cleaning along by turning the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit (246 degrees Celsius) for an hour or so while it's empty. It's a good idea to put foil on the bottom of a continuous cleaning oven to prevent large spills from sticking [source: Field].