Abby Slutsky owns a bakery business and is trained in personal hygiene and sanitation for the food industry.
Appliances are expensive, so no one wants to replace their oven sooner than necessary. However, did you know that one of the functions on your oven can actually damage it? Unfortunately, that feature is the self-cleaning one; it is probably among your favorite features to use. After all, who wants to rub burnt food debris or splatters off their oven on a regular basis? While I admit I do use the feature once in a while, I try to minimize using my self-cleaning feature as much as possible, and you should consider doing the same.
Reasons Traditional Self-Cleaning Your Oven Can be Harmful to Your Oven and Your Family
1. Excessive High Temperatures May Cause Damage
The average oven is not really built to operate at the high temperatures that it takes to melt food debris off the oven’s interior. Self-cleaning features can elevate the oven’s temperature as high as 900 or 1000 degrees. Thus, using the self-cleaning feature can damage the heating components, blow fuses, or harm other parts of the oven. Even if, your oven is under warranty, it can take time to get these items repaired, and it is inconvenient to be without an oven. If you are paying for repairs, replacing these oven parts can be costly.
2. Carbon Monoxide Production
Excessive temperatures that burn off food debris from your oven also produce carbon monoxide. According to the OSHA Fact Sheet about Carbon Monoxide, when people or animals breathe this tasteless, odor free gas, it can oust oxygen from the blood, and, in turn, deprive organs, your heart and brain of oxygen.
A Word About Steam Cleaning Your Oven
Newer ovens have a steam cleaning option, but many people do not have this cleaning option. Steam cleaning your oven is not as hard on your oven because the oven operates within a normal heating range instead of the 800 plus degrees that traditional cleaning requires; the steam cleaning feature also cleans for a much shorter time period. (In my oven, 30 minutes versus several hours.) However, I do not think steam cleaning is as thorough as traditional self cleaning, but it is good for small areas. If your oven has a steam cleaning option, check to see how much water you should add before steam cleaning it. If you steam clean your oven, check the manual to see whether you have to remove the racks.
My Best Tips and Method for Cleaning Your Oven's Interior by Hand
Clean your oven as soon as possible after it is cools. Removing debris before it has a chance to harden or accumulate will make it easier to remove.
Cleaning Your Oven’s Interior
- Remove the racks from your oven. (I like to clean mine by hand no matter the type of rack.)
- Place a paste of baking soda and water on burnt stains at the bottom of the oven. While it sits, wash your racks with dish soap and water. (I like Dawn, but if you prefer another cleaning agent, use a mild cleaner that works for you.)
- Apply the baking soda and water combination to any tough debris on your racks. When at least 10 minutes have passed, return to cleaning the bottom of your oven. Use a soft cloth to remove the debris. If the debris is stubborn, I wrap a thin rag around a razer blade, and gently scrape the debris off the bottom of the oven. You can also dampen the rag with very hot water before you wrap it around the razer blade. I do not recommend using a razor blade directly against your oven as it may scratch the finish.
- If the oven is completely cool, I use a handheld vacuum to suck up any debris or crumbs that may be in the bottom of the oven. I like the Esthesia 120W Handheld Vacuam, which comes with several attachments, including a brush and crevice attachment. It is lightweight, easy-to-hold, powerful, and includes a convenient carrying case to store all the parts. The narrow crevice attachment makes it easy to suck crumbs from the rear of the oven.
- Make a mixture of one part white vinegar, 2 parts warm water, and gently wipe around the interior of the oven with a soft rag. I have successfully used SOS pads on stubborn areas, but many oven directions will caution you against this. Nevertheless, I have not personally had a problem with them causing scratches. If you are hesitant, try to gently use a steel wool pad in a less noticeable area of your oven. Return to your oven racks and wipe the debris off them with a wet cloth. Wipe the area with a damp rag.
- Dip a rag in your vinegar and water solution, and wipe down the interior and exterior of the glass window on your oven. Avoid using harsh chemicals in the interior of your oven.
- Dry any wet areas of your oven’s interior with a soft, dry rag.
My Best Tips for Cleaning Your Oven's Stainless Exterior
Since stainless steel appliances are very popular, this article will share my experience cleaning stainless. Stainless steel can be difficult to clean because it shows smudges.
My favorite product to use on stainless is WD-40.
- Spray a soft rag generously with WD-40.
- Wipe your oven with the rag in the direction of the grain; be careful to run over every area that has fingerprints or smudges.
Hopefully, the above steps will ensure you have a clean oven that is reliable for your cooking needs.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (1970). Carbon Monoxide [Fact Sheet]. https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/carbonmonoxide-factsheet.pdf
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Abby Slutsky
Abby Slutsky (author) from America on May 29, 2021:
Thanks so much for reading and sharing your own experience.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on May 29, 2021:
Very useful information shared by you regarding the cleaning of the oven. I liked your tips and suggestions. I usually clean mine, immediately after use. For stubborn patches, baking soda is very good.
Thank you for sharing this well written and informative article.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 29, 2021:
Abby, I like this article. I had not thought of using WD-40. I think that is a great idea. You oven cleaning tips are very good. Thanks for sharing this information.
Abby Slutsky (author) from America on May 29, 2021:
Thanks so much for reading.
Liz Westwood from UK on May 29, 2021:
This is an extremely useful article. I really appreciate your tips and advice.