How to Clean a Self-Cleaning Oven (in 5 Steps)

Appliance Express
July 8, 2024
Oven Repair

Cleaning an oven is no one’s favorite job. It tends to be dirty, difficult, and requires a lot of unpleasant, toxic chemicals. Today, many ovens have a self-cleaning function, but owners of self-cleaning ovens may put off using it, unsure how it works or if it does a good enough job. In this article, we break down the mechanics of how the self-cleaning function works in modern ovens, including five straightforward steps for getting the best results. 

How Do Self-Cleaning Ovens Work?

Self-cleaning ovens use a system called ‘pyrolytic cleaning’ to get rid of food residue and grease. It basically involves using extremely high temperatures, usually around 800°F–900°F, to incinerate any dirt or debris inside your oven, turning it to ash. Once the process has been completed, the ash can easily be wiped away with a damp cloth, leaving your oven clean and shiny with minimal effort. Because of the extremely high temperatures, the door of your oven will lock during a self-cleaning cycle to ensure your safety. 

Do Self-Cleaning Ovens Do a Good Job?

Thanks to the extremely high temperatures, self-cleaning ovens are highly effective at removing most types of residue and debris inside your oven. However, they may not be completely effective when it comes to removing years of built up grease and debris. Thus, the self-cleaning function is best used every six months or so. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Using the Self-Cleaning Function?

So, is using the self-clean function worth it? We’ve compiled a list of the pros and cons to help you decide. 


  • Convenient: Self-cleaning is hands-off and easy, meaning you don’t need to spend hours scrubbing stubborn stains. 
  • Thorough: The pyrolytic process is great for removing debris in hard-to-reach areas.
  • No chemicals: The self-cleaning process doesn’t require harsh chemicals to remove grime and grease. 
  • Saves time: Although the self-cleaning process itself takes a few hours, the only thing you’ll have to do is wipe away the ash at the end of the process, which only takes a few minutes. 


  • High energy consumption: Pyrolytic cleaning uses a lot of electricity due to the high temperatures. 
  • Potential fumes: The high temperatures can lead to unpleasant fumes in your house. 
  • Possible dangers: The door and exterior of your oven will get hot enough to burn, which can be dangerous.
  • Wear and tear: Using the self-cleaning function too often can cause excess wear and tear on your oven. 

How Do You Start the Self-Cleaning Process?

Before you begin the self-cleaning process, make sure you do the following:

  • Ventilate the space to prevent unpleasant fumes. 
  • Ensure that pets and children are not able to get into the kitchen, as the high temperatures mean they can burn themselves on the oven’s exterior
  • Make sure there’s nothing left on top of your oven or nearby that could be affected by high heat. 

Self-Cleaning Your Oven: Our Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1 – Remove Items

Remove absolutely everything from your oven. This includes racks and trays, as the high heat can warp and damage them. Make sure no items like aluminum foil are inside the oven, and that nothing is on the oven or hanging on the oven door. 

Step 2 – Remove Loose Debris

Ensure you remove any large pieces of loose debris from your oven. While this isn’t strictly necessary, it’s easy and helps ensure the self-cleaning cycle works as well as possible. 

Step 3 – Lock the Door

Some self-cleaning ovens automatically lock when you start the cycle, while others require you to latch them first. Check your user manual and if you need to lock yours, ensure it’s securely locked before you begin. 

Step 4 – Run the Self-Cleaning Cycle

Following the instructions in your user manual, select the self-cleaning cycle. Some ovens will have different options depending on how dirty the oven is. If your oven is just mildly dirty, choose a shorter cycle. But if it needs a deep clean, choose the longest cycle available. 

Do NOT use any cleaning products before starting the self-cleaning cycle. They aren’t necessary, and can cause damage to the oven’s interior when combined with high heat. They can also produce toxic fumes that will leak into your house. 

Step 5 – Cool and Wipe

Once the self-cleaning cycle is completed, your oven will need to cool down before the door latch releases. Wait until it’s cool enough to touch before wiping out the residual ash with a wet cloth. If there are any stubborn spots that the self-cleaning cycle didn’t remove, try making a paste of baking soda and water and letting it sit on the grime for an hour, then wipe it away. 

What About Steam Cleaning?

If your oven has a steam cleaning function, there’s a slightly different process to follow. Steam cleaning is gentler and operates at a lower heat than pyrolytic cleaning, so it’s possible to use it more frequently.

Here’s how the process works:

  • Locate the water reservoir in your oven. In most models with a steam cleaning function, this will be at the bottom – you can consult your manual if you’re not sure. 
  • Select the steam cleaning cycle. This usually runs at around 300°F
  • Wait for the steam cleaning cycle to complete. During this time, steam circulates inside the oven cavity. Softening and loosening grease and grime. 
  • Wait for the oven to cool and then use a cloth or rag to manually wipe down the interior of the oven. At this stage you can use some non-toxic cleaning products to help you. We recommend white vinegar.

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