How to Use a Self Cleaning Oven Properly

So you’ve gotten yourself a self-cleaning oven… welcome to the 21st century! Just kidding – these have been around for a while. If you don’t have one, well, you’ll just have to clean yours out by hand.

First Things First

The very first step that you should take before attempting to clean your oven is to read the owner’s manual for your particular make and model. If you’ve misplaced your manual since your purchase, try to contact the retailer from which you bought the oven and request a replacement copy. If that doesn’t work, or if you “inherited” the oven after moving into a home that came pre-equipped with appliances, then you can take to the internet to search. Sometimes, a manufacturer’s website, or other third-party sites, will have downloadable versions of the instructions. If that’s not working for you either, make the effort to call the manufacturer and request a replacement copy. Usually it is a very small fee – sometimes just shipping and handling.

Plan Ahead

Oven Door

Since running the self-clean cycle on an oven can be a very time-consuming process with some potential safety concerns, it’s good practice to plan for it ahead of time. There are a couple of things to consider:

Temperature – It makes the most sense to clean your oven when it is cool outside, as the high temperatures of the cleaning can warm your house.

Time – Cleaning the oven can take up to 5 hours, and sometimes more, depending on your model, so you want to make sure you have the time available. You don’t want to leave the oven unattended.

Before You Clean

  • Take pet birds out of the house, as they can be harmed by the fumes created by the cleaning process.
  • Keep other pets, as well as children, away from the area, as the temperatures in the oven can reach very high levels.
  • Remove the oven racks. Clean them manually (maybe while you wait for the oven to finish).
  • Clean out any loose debris in the oven. A lot of stuck-on foodstuffs will cause a great deal of smoke, not to mention odors throughout your house.
  • Open a window for adequate ventilation. As mentioned, running the self-cleaning cycle on an oven will produce smoke and fumes that you don’t want to be breathing in.

The Process

Consider using the cleaning cycle right after cooking, so the oven is already hot and doesn’t have much more to heat up to reach the temperatures necessary for cleaning.

If your model of oven has a manual lock for the door, use it. Some types have an automatic lock that will engage when the cycle starts.

Select the cleaning setting. Some models will go for a certain preset amount of time. If yours requires a manual time setting, select a time. A good starting point is somewhere between three and five hours, depending on how dirty your oven is. After the cleaning cycle, you can judge if you allowed enough time or not.

After the Cycle

Stove Top

The oven should turn itself off automatically. ALWAYS double check to be sure. Never leave the oven completely unattended. Don’t open the oven door for at least two hours. It will need plenty of time to cool down before it’s safe. Be careful! Do not force open an oven lock, even if you’re sick of waiting! You could be burned, and/or break the oven door.


It is imperative that you obtain a copy of the instruction manual for your self-cleaning oven. This will give you the necessary safety precautions and best practices for maintaining your oven.

Further Thoughts

Some experts warn that the self-cleaning cycle can be rough on ovens and may even cause fuses and control panels to fail. Make sure not to overuse the self-cleaning cycle. Between cleanings, use a manual cleaning product that is designed for the special coating in a self cleaning oven (harsh chemicals can actually cause more harm than good.)


This information is the opinion of the article author ONLY and does not reflect your manufacturer’s recommendations. YOU MUST follow the instructions contained in your oven’s user manual to ensure safe and effective operation. DO NOT attempt to use your oven’s self-cleaning function without consulting the proper documentation for your make and model of oven.