How to Use a Self Cleaning Oven

By Lyle Weischwill | Aug. 04, 2022 10:35 am PST

If you don’t already have a self-cleaning oven, you may consider getting one after reading this article. If you have a self-cleaning oven but you haven’t used the self-clean cycle, we have tips to help you use it safely and effectively.

A self-cleaning oven uses extremely high heat to burn spills and residue inside the oven cavity to ash. After running the self-clean cycle, you just wipe out the ash residue and the inside of your oven practically looks brand new. It’s a modern miracle of appliance engineering.

You don’t have to bother with using harsh oven cleaners – scrubbing stains and spills off the oven cavity liner when you have a self-cleaning oven. Using the self-clean mode is much easier than manually cleaning the oven.

What to Do Before You Self-Clean Your Oven

There are some preparations that you’ll need to make before starting the self-clean mode in the oven. Here’s a list of precautions to take before starting the cleaning mode:

  • Follow the directions in the owner’s manual to prepare your oven for running the self-clean cycle. Oven models differ and the directions for preparing the oven model that you have may require some unique steps not covered in the general directions and precautions provided below.
  • Wipe out heavy spills. High oven temperature will burn off any food residue remaining after you wipe out heavy spills. Leaving a pool of grease in the bottom of your oven will create a small, controlled burn that will go out within minutes due to lack of oxygen inside the oven because the oven door is locked shut. Still, you’ll want to avoid the flames by wiping out heavy residue — especially greasy spills.
  • Ventilate your home. Open windows to dissipate the smoke that will come out the oven vent during the self-clean cycle. If you don’t wipe out heavy spills, the excessive smoke coming from the oven vent can trigger smoke alarms in your home.
  • Protect your pets. Ventilating your home goes a long way in helping protect pets. Birds are especially sensitive to smoke. Other pets can also be bothered by smoke even though you have all the windows open. For best protection of your pets, move them outside or to another location before running the oven’s self-clean cycle.
  • Because the clean feature will automatically lock the oven door and keep it locked until the oven has cooled, you’ll want to make sure to remove baking dishes or containers before you start the cleaning process. Once the clean cycle starts, heating elements raise oven temperature to over 750 degrees Fahrenheit, so anything left inside the oven will likely get damaged or break.

If you discover that you left items inside the oven after starting the self-clean option, you won’t be able to remove them until the oven cools down. The oven door stays locked to limit oxygen supply to the oven cavity during the cleaning process. If you were to open the door when the oven is above 750 degrees while residue is being burned off, the abundant supply of oxygen in the air entering the oven would immediately cause a fire to flare up. Don’t try to force the door open to retrieve items accidentally left inside the oven. Cancel the self-clean feature and open the oven door once the oven cools.

How to Start the Self-Clean Mode on Your Oven

Once you’ve prepared the oven and your home for running the oven self-cleaning cycle, set the control and start the cleaning mode.

You can set the self-cleaning cycle to run between 2 and 4 hours on most ovens. Clean option settings vary by model so check the owner’s manual for your range or oven to see how long the self-cleaning cycle will take in your range.

Keep in mind that the oven door stays locked until the oven cools down after the high temperature clean so you’ll need to add about 45 minutes to the cycle time before you can use the oven.

When Should I Run the Self-Clean Cycle on My Oven?

Although the oven self-cleaning cycle is a modern innovation of epic proportion, you shouldn’t overuse it. Self-clean the oven when a dish spills over or when you notice significant stains and residue inside the oven.

Also, don’t use the self-cleaning cycle just before the holidays or an important event when you will be relying on trouble-free use of the oven. Because the oven heats to extremely high temperatures during the self-clean cycle, the chances of an oven component failure or a nuisance trip of a high-temperature safety switch can occur.

If your oven doesn’t work after running the self-clean cycle, schedule a Sears Technician to diagnose and repair the failure. Our technicians are factory trained to repair all major brands of ovens and ranges including Whirlpool, Frigidaire, GE and Kenmore. A Sears Tech will visit your home and fix the oven problem in no time. We have same day and next day appointments in many areas. These same day and next day appointments may be harder to schedule during the holidays so keep this in mind before starting the self-clean cycle just before Thanksgiving or Christmas.

If you’re a DIY appliance repair enthusiast, or you want to attempt your oven yourself when it doesn’t heat after a self-clean cycle, you can try finding and resetting the high-temperature safety switch as shown in this troubleshooting video:

Don’t attempt to fix the oven yourself unless you’re completely confident that you can safely access and check that safety switch yourself. Not all ovens have a resettable safety switch. Some ovens have a fuse that needs replacing if it trips during a self-clean cycle. If you’re not able to fix the oven yourself, schedule a Sears Technician to repair the oven.

How to Avoid Self Cleaning Oven Problems

The answer on how to avoid self-cleaning oven problems is not to avoid ever using the self-clean cycle. The self-cleaning cycle is the safest and most efficient way to clean your oven. To avoid problems with your self-cleaning oven, follow the instructions in your owner’s manual and the advice in this article. Here are some additional tips to help you avoid problems when using your self-cleaning oven:

  • Wipe out heavy grease spills and residue before starting a self-clean cycle so the oven has less chance of overheating.
  • Don’t try to open the oven door during the cycle and for about an hour after the cycle ends to prevent damage to the oven door lock. The control will indicate when the door is unlocked after the oven cools down.
  • Have a Sears Technician perform a professional annual maintenance check and cleaning on your range or oven. Having your oven maintained, tested and cleaned professionally every year will prevent cost breakdowns that often occur during the holidays or other inopportune times when you need your stove of oven the most. Annual maintenance and cleaning of your stove or oven will also help it last longer.

Don’t be scared to use the self-clean cycle on your oven. Understanding how the clean cycle works and how avoid problems should give you the confidence and peace of mind to take advantage of this convenient oven feature.

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