Maintaining a Clean Self-Cleaning Oven
Although many ovens have a self cleaning feature, there are steps that homeowners can take to maximize the effectiveness of the self cleaning cycle. In many cases, the self-cleaning doesn't do enough to rid ovens of odors and stuck-on food. Most ovens apply high heat (up to 800 degree F) as a cleaning mechanism. This process takes 90 minutes to 6 hours and effectively breaks down food. However, a light ash is often left on oven surfaces. A damp cloth wipe is needed to complete the cleaning process. Newer ovens have a steam clean feature, but even this advanced self cleaning process requires owners to wipe down the interior afterward. Owners still have to clean the oven themselves, but the self cleaning options are intended to help.
There are additional steps that owners can take to make the oven cleaning process even easier: The first recommendation is to wipe up spills when they happen. This is not always possible in a hot oven. However, regularly mopping up spills can decrease the amount of food dirtying the oven. When it's time to fully clean the oven, the heated self cleaning process will be shorter if there is less food to break down. Another easy way to decrease the amount of food debris in the oven prior to cleaning is to remove the racks and wipe them down. Doing this regularly will also help to maintain a shiny finish.
Keeping messes to a minimum makes the self cleaning process also progress more easily. The heat clean method can cause a bit of smoke and foul odors. The American Cleaning Institute recommends that people clear the area during the oven's cleaning cycle. Birds can also be sensitive to the fumes and should be moved into a separate room. Since the cleaning time can be unpleasant, it's a good practice to keep it to a minimum. Regular spill cleaning and rack wiping decrease the amount of time required for the self cleaning cycle.
Once the cleaning cycle is over, homeowners can wipe down their oven to remove any remaining messes or ash. This is recommended by every manufacturer, even with the steam cleaning method. Unfortunately, not every area gets hot enough to break down all the food. Some areas, like the inside edge of the door won't be helped by the self cleaning process. Homeowners may have to get out a scrub brush to keep these areas clean. Check your owner's manual before breaking out the scrub brush though. Some owner's manuals warn against commercial cleaners.
While self cleaning ovens are a nice feature, true cleanliness requires some work on the part of the homeowner. Regular maintenance, like spill cleanup and rack wipedowns, make the self cleaning cycle progress more easily. After the cleaning cycle, homeowners still need to wipe down the inside of the oven to remove any debris (or water, in the case of steam cleaning stoves). Working in tandem with the self cleaning cycle, homeowners can maintain a clean oven.