February 17, 2009

How Do I Clean my Self Cleaning Oven?

I am always happy to help my readers out with questions about recipes, foods, household hints and tips; and I'm simply amazed at the number of requests I have for "How do I clean my Pampered Chef baking stones?" Another topic that is confusing for new or young cooks, or even older cooks that have replaced their ovens for the first time in years only to find it's a self-cleaning style is; "How do I clean a self cleaning oven!?"

I remember wondering that too!

As a teen we didn't own an oven with a self cleaning feature. I accidentally started the cleaning cycle at a home I was babysitting in when I was making their kids cookies and closed the locking mechanism on the front. On their model (in the 80's) all you had to do was engage the lock to start the process! Luckily I immediately was pushing CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL before my chocolate chip cookies turned to ash and I ruined their cookie sheets!

I didn't come into contact with another self cleaning oven for about 10 years. When we moved into one of our previous homes with brand new appliances I was introduced to the self cleaning oven... and it didn't go very well.

I ignored it completely for the first 8-9 months but finally I took a deep breath, delved into the owners manual and followed the simple instructions to start the cleaning process.

Oh the smell!

Let me warn you; an awful, horrible smell is normal. Don't be alarmed like I was and immediately rush to the oven and turn it off. The first few times you use it will be burning off some of the chemicals in the finish as well so I suggest opening all your windows and planning to do this at least 2-3 days before you expect to be entertaining company.

After consulting the manual again, I turned it back on and opened all the windows (in the middle of winter... in Northern Minnesota). I still couldn't breathe so the dog and I hung out in the basement for a bit. When I came back upstairs I was again shocked into immediately turning off my oven. It was on fire!

Ok. Not really. But there were flames!

Any oil or grease that has dripped to the bottom of your oven will be burned off. This means sometimes you may have flashes of flames. Your oven is insulated however, and it's fine. Just take a deep breath and watch carefully (with a fire extinguisher close... LOL).

It will take between 1-3 hours for a complete cleaning cycle and another 30 minutes or so for the oven to cool down sufficiently to allow you to unlock the locking mechanism.

To Clean Your Oven:

First remove all the racks and pans. If you leave the racks inside the smooth finish will be removed from them, they will discolor and will be difficult to slide in and out.

Close the oven, lock it into place and push the self cleaning cycle on your oven. Mine can be set between 1-4 hours. I typically do 3 hours as my oven is used heavily. If yours isn't heavily soiled you could do 1-2.

Push start.

An awful smell and sometimes even a few flash flare ups are normal. Ignore them unless it's really scary. LOL. I always (to this day) have a fire extinguisher out on the counter when I run mine... just in case.

When the cycle is over you will have ash inside your oven. This is all the spilled food or oils that have been burned to ash at a high temperature.

Wipe it down to clean. I use a damp paper towel for the first 1-2 swipes as it's really, really black and will stain dishcloths. You can see in the photo above I've started to wipe down the left side of the oven. The right side is what a heavily soiled spot from pizza dripping looked like.

Continue to wipe the inside one or two more times (just use water) and there you go! A clean oven!

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