Should I Use the Self-Cleaning Cycle on My Oven?

Person activating the self-cleaning cycle on his ovenNew Africa / Shutterstock

The self-cleaning function of your oven looks attractive. Why spend hours cleaning grease and dirt when your oven can do it automatically? Before launching it, however, be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of using it.

Even though the self-cleaning cycle makes life easier, there are some risks to consider. In some cases, it can do more harm than good. Let's take a look at the disadvantages of using the self-cleaning cycle and how to use it safely if you choose to use it.

Reasons to avoid the cycle of self-cleaning

Who does not like the idea of ​​an oven that cleans itself? Alas, there is no free meal (or cleaning the oven without labor, so to speak).

Carbon monoxide and other toxic vapors

Do you know all that raw cooked in the bottom of your oven? The automatic oven cleaning function burns all the charred food. That's how your oven is so clean. But in doing so, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a gas that is difficult to detect and dangerous for human and animal health.

During the high-temperature self-cleaning cycle, other toxic fumes are generated, such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). These vapors are particularly dangerous for birds because of the efficiency of their respiratory systems, which means that their body absorbs toxins quickly.

Most ovens have a Teflon coating on the inside, designed to withstand the normal heat of baking and even broiling. However, this coating is not designed for repeated exposure to the high temperatures used during a self-cleaning cycle.

Whether you're worried about pet exposure or your own exposure, be aware of the smoke and off-gases generated by the self-cleaning cycle.

Fuses and grilled control panels

Traditional self-cleaning cycles use high temperatures to dissipate the accumulation of fat and cooked foods. These temperatures soar up to 900-1000 ° F. These temperatures are 2 to 3 times higher than the normal operating temperature of your oven and it is not surprising that they are a little rough.

The new ovens are designed with hidden heating elements, which helps prevent smoking when food splashes or drips. But the disadvantage of this design is that it is difficult for air to circulate properly around these elements. Unfortunately, this contributes to damaging the heating elements, damaging the fuses and damaging the electronic components of the oven.

You thought the manufacturers would be aware of this flaw, right? Indeed they are. But consumers love the self-cleaning feature so much that manufacturers feel obliged to accept it, despite the risk of the self-cleaning function, which reduces the longevity of the oven.

The appliance repair shops also recommend not using the cycle and will be the first to inform you that the many service calls they receive are the result of an automatic cleaning cycle that went wrong. In addition, accessing hidden heaters or replacing heat-damaged circuit boards are not quick or cheap repairs.

How to use the self-cleaning cycle safely

Although using the self-cleaning cycle on your oven has certain risks, you can use it as long as you use caution. We have essential measures to ensure the safety of all and protect the longevity of your oven.

Do a quick cleaning first: Use warm water, soap and a plastic scouring pad or spatula that does not scratch to remove some of the dirt and build-up. Remove as many pieces of nested food and fat as possible, because these are the items that will be turned into ash and smoked by the cycle if they are not removed.
Remove everything from inside: It is best to remove all racks from the oven before performing the self-cleaning. High heat discolours metal racks and can cause deformation (which will make them more difficult to insert and remove in the future). Enameled grills are approved for the self-clean cycle, but we think it's best to clean them by hand. High heat will damage the forgotten cooking pans. So be sure to clean everything up.
Lock the oven door: This will usually happen automatically or you may need to use a lever. Make sure that young children are not allowed to access the kitchen because high temperatures are dangerous – you do not want to risk that someone accidentally opens the door.
Cleaning time: It is generally recommended to do two hours for light cleaning and up to four hours for a dirtier oven. However, if you are worried that the fuses will fail and you wish to extend the life of your oven, limit the automatic cleaning to one hour. A little pre-cleaning followed by a shorter self-cleaning might be enough to do the job.
Ventilate and evacuate the kitchen: Open all windows, turn on the exhaust fan above the oven, make sure the oven vent is not obstructed and keep all people and pets away from the kitchen ( or get out, if possible). Do not allow anyone to enter the kitchen during self-cleaning, yourself included! Make sure all carbon monoxide detectors are working.
Make sure someone stays at home: Even if you want to stay away from the kitchen during the self-cleaning cycle, be careful not to leave your property. Leaving your oven running at such a high temperature can pose a fire hazard. Stay close (but not inside the kitchen) and make sure you have a fire extinguisher on hand.
Wipe the remaining ashes: Wait until the cycle ends and the oven cools completely before opening the door. You can clean the remaining ashes with the help of a damp cloth or even a vacuum cleaner. Dispose of waste immediately. We advise you to use a dust-proof face mask during the cleaning process.

Reduces self-cleaning with general oven maintenance

Once you have thoroughly cleaned the oven, by hand or with the self-cleaning function, you want to strive to keep it clean regularly. This will help you avoid the accumulation of unwanted waste, which will reduce your chances of having to do too much self cleaning in the future.

Regular cleaning: Wipe the inside of your oven after each use (wait for the oven to cool down). It is not necessary to carry out a thorough cleaning, but immediately tackling these splashes and splashes will help a lot.
Avoid aggressive chemical cleaners: Once cleaning chemicals are exposed to high temperatures, they can release harmful fumes, which can harm your health. Regular dish soap and warm water can remove a lot of grease and dirt. Here is a list of gentle cleaners you can do at home.
Limits self-cleaning: If you're a fan of the self-cleaning cycle, try limiting your oven to a maximum of six times a year.
Use aluminum foil: Remember to cover the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil. This will catch all those drops and splashes, making it a lot easier to do an old fashioned cleaning.

We find it very easy and convenient to use the self-cleaning function of your oven. If you feel like it, make sure you leave these windows open and avoid entering the kitchen during operation. Whatever the case may be, you can reduce the amount you use by staying on the oven cleaning before it becomes sufficiently damaging that you need a scorched approach.

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