How a Self-Cleaning Oven Works

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How a Self-Cleaning Oven Works

Staff Writer · Jul 22, 2010

A self cleaning oven still requires you to clean it from time to time. While the companies making such ovens use this fact to state that you need to do very little to nothing to clean it, there is very little explanation of how a self-cleaning oven actually works. Below is an explanation of the workings of a self-cleaning oven and your role in cleaning such an appliance.

“Self Cleaning” Defined

A self-cleaning oven cleans itself by burning off any interior dirt or food remnants at a very high degree. Specifically, the oven heats itself to a very high temperature for a long period of time, typically four or more hours, which turns any messes in its interior into dust so it is then easily removable. You can keep any racks inside the oven during cleaning and they will also be cleaned. Pans, pots or any other foreign items other than oven racks, however, will be destroyed by the high heat and therefore should not be left inside the oven.

Self-Timing and Locking

For safety, a self-cleaning oven must be locked prior to using the cleaning option. Typically, there is a lever above the oven handle that must be switched into the locked position prior to the oven being able to clean itself. In more modern ovens, this lever may be a button. After switching this lever, you can then turn on the self-cleaning option. This option is preset with the temperature and amount of time the oven will need for its cleaning. Typically, the oven will not be able to be opened or otherwise used during cleaning, and if the cleaning is ended early the lever will not be able to be moved until the oven has cooled to a usable, non-dangerous temperature.

Dangers While Cleaning

Despite the fact that the oven will be locked for operator safety, a self-cleaning oven still poses some threats during the cleaning cycle that must not be overlooked. First, the oven is heated to very high temperatures and should not be left alone should something malfunction and a fire begin. For this reason, you should only use an oven’s self-cleaning option while you are awake and in the home so that you may watch it during the cycle. Secondly, the items being burned from the oven’s surface and the high temperature of the oven itself often create a bad odor inside the home. Therefore, be certain to leave several windows open or otherwise ensure air will move freely to remove these smells from inside your home and possibly making you sick.

Operator’s Role After Self-Cleaning

While the oven may be called “self-cleaning,” the operator must still clean the interior after the self-cleaning cycle. The high temperatures will have burnt and turned to dust the messes inside the oven, but this dust will still need to be removed by the operator. To remove these remnants, make sure that the oven has completely cooled, a process that can take as much as three or four hours. Then, using a wet cloth wipe all four sides of the oven and the oven racks. You may use a little bit of soap on the rag, but remember to wipe off any soap with a wet rag afterwards to prevent residue. Additionally, you can remove the oven racks and wash them in your sink for a more thorough cleaning.

A self-cleaning oven is easy to use and also safe, but still requires caution when running. Be sure to thoroughly wipe down the oven after using the self-cleaning option.

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