self-cleaning oven

Empty open electric oven with hot air ventilation. New oven. Door is open and light is on

A self-cleaning oven is a minor miracle: The oven cleans itself by heating to temperatures over 800 degrees, burning away spills and debris in the oven and leaving powdery ash that you can wipe up.

The owner’s manual for your range or oven has guidelines for safely running the oven self-cleaning cycle. Here are some basic tips for avoiding problems and using the self-clean cycle effectively.

1. Don’t put it off

Don’t wait to use your oven’s self-cleaning feature until just before a big get-together; clean it at least a few weeks before the event. That gives you time to get the oven fixed if the very high temperatures used during self-cleaning trip one of the oven’s safety devices, disabling the oven.

Better yet, use the self-clean cycle periodically throughout the year, when oven spills and residue build up.

2. Start with a cool oven

Don’t risk burning yourself while preparing the oven for cleaning — start the cleaning prep when the oven is cool.

3. Remove the oven racks

Remove all oven racks before starting the self-cleaning cycle. The high temperatures during the self-cleaning cycle damage the coating on the racks that helps them slide  smoothly. Also, some racks discolor if you leave them inside the oven during self-cleaning.

Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual for cleaning the oven racks. You can scrub most oven racks with a mild, abrasive cleaner. Rinse with plain water and dry.

4. Wipe up big oven spills

Baked-on oven spills can create heavy smoke when they burn off, and that smoke comes out of the oven vent during self-cleaning. Grease spills can even cause a fire.

To remove spills before starting the self-cleaning cycle, make a baking soda paste and scrub off  large spills of grease and food as best you can. Then rinse thoroughly.

Warning: Never use oven cleaner to remove buildup from the oven floor. Oven cleaners are formulated for ovens that aren’t self-cleaning. In a self-cleaning oven, oven cleaners can damage the oven’s enamel coating.

5. Ventilate your kitchen and nearby rooms

Smoke and odor escape the oven vent during the self-cleaning cycle, making your kitchen hot and smelly. Open windows and turn on the range hood exhaust fan in the kitchen to keep smoke and fumes from building up in your home.

6. Protect pets

Dogs, cats and other pets can find oven smoke and fumes annoying or harmful. Birds are particularly sensitive to fumes and smoke coming from the oven during self-cleaning.  Keep pets in a well-ventilated room away from the kitchen during oven self-cleaning.


Once you finish prepping the oven, you’re ready to run the cycle. After it’s clean, use a damp cloth to wipe ash from the floor of the oven. Then keep your oven clean longer by wiping up spills as soon as the oven cools, so they don’t become harder each time you use the oven.