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Are Self-Cleaning Ovens Safe? 6 Reasons to Stop Using Self-Cleaning Oven

Oleg Chudnovski, CEO

Technically Reviewed by Oleg Chudnovski, CEO on Oct 06, 2023 | Written by Fix Appliances CA Editorial Contributors

In this article…

4 Reasons to Stop Using Self-Cleaning Oven Feature Immediately

Talking about the daily routine, several are the most hated, such as ironing, dishwashing and oven or range cleaning. Thus, when you buy the last oven, you must avoid routine jobs like cleaning. You are excited and ready to say “Goodbye” to the days of smelly cleaner fumes and exhausting scrubbing, and now, be ready to say “hello” to a twinkling clean oven. Touch the button.

However, while oven makers are working out the great features, which help to take on such unpleasant housework, the latest self-cleaning options can result in severe problems with your home appliance. And the main question our experts will try to answer is, “Are self-ovens safe?”

Remarkably, FIX Appliance CA technicians face with self-cleaning issues in approximately 50% of all repair requests. Contact us, and you are certain to avoid major problems with your oven. That is why we’d like to analyze the process and the potential undesirable consequences you may encounter.

How Self-Cleaning Ovens Work

Before we describe the self-cleaning function of an oven, let us explain what exactly a self-cleaning oven is and how it works.

self cleaning oven

What is a self-cleaning oven?

A self-cleaning oven is a feature on many modern ovens that burns off cooking spills and splatters at an extremely high temperature (932 F° or 500 C°) to aid in cleaning. A cycle typically takes several hours to complete, and for safety measures, it automatically locks the oven door closed until it has sufficiently cooled.

Such ovens often cook more efficiently as they are manufactured with more housing insulation to withstand the high self-cleaning oven temperature needed during cleaning.

Most name-brand manufacturers offer a self-cleaning oven feature, including:

Blomberg Bertazzoni Bosch
DCS Fisher & Paykel GE Electrolux
Frigidaire Fulgor Milano Jenn-Air
KitchenAid Kenmore LG
Panasonic Maytag Viking
Whirlpool Wolf Samsung and more

Each has a variety of sidewall coatings made from heat- and acid-resistant porcelain enamel. As temperatures inside the oven increase, any leftover food particles will be burnt to ash.

Step 1—Empty it out

Before you start the cycle, make sure to remove everything inside the oven. Empty the racks, pots and pans, cookie sheets, aluminum foil or anything else that’s being stored inside.

There is no need to use any chemical oven cleaners on the internal surfaces. However, you may need a strong oven cleaner on racks when washing them in the sink.

Racks left inside the oven during the cleaning cycle will appear dull afterward. Vegetable oil is a good option to restore the sheen to the metal.

Step 2—Lock her down

Once the stove is empty, the locking door system can be activated. Although there is a manual locking mechanism, generally, you should use the automatic system that latches with an electric motor and switches. This mandatory latch is an important safety feature that prevents accidental injury and burns.

Step 3—Press the button

Before starting the process, recognize that it will take approximately three to four hours to complete the cycle. Make sure never to use this feature when the home is unattended. The intense heat needed to burn off leftover food particles and grease can produce smoke that may set off your smoke detector.

All heat elements will be activated during this phase, and the temperature inside your oven can reach more than 1292 F° or 700° C, much higher than is needed for cooking. You’ll want to open a window slightly to cool the room and run an exhaust fan to reduce the amount of smoke and odours in the air.

Step 4—Be patient

A safety feature of the system uses a mechanical interlock to keep the oven door closed and locked until the temperature inside reaches approximately 572 F° or 300° C. This is set this way to prevent possible burn injuries, so the latch won’t unlock until the oven has completed both the clean and cool-down phases. Once it reaches the right temperature, it will automatically unlock.

Step 5—Wipe it down

Even after the door unlocks, you’ll want to wait a couple more hours for the oven to cool sufficiently to wipe down the inside. You must remove the ash residue with a sponge or damp cloth. Areas around the seals and door edge will require a more thorough hand cleaning with hydrogen peroxide as they will not do this area.

How Often Should It Be Run?

There is conflicting information between manufacturers about how often the self-cleaning feature should be run. Some recommend running the cycle monthly to prevent heavy build-up, while others suggest limiting use to a maximum of six times per year. This is to save energy and appliance wear and tear.
You should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific appliance.
This is where things get a little challenging.

Is it worth having a self-cleaning oven?

Let’s take a look at some of the pros:

  • Convenience, the primary appeal of a self-cleaning oven is that you won’t have to use harsh oven cleaners or scrub spills and burn food by hand. You can spend three to four hours doing other chores or something more enjoyable during self-cleaning.
  • Energy Savings—your oven is equipped with extra heavy insulation to help it achieve high cleaning temperatures. This means less heat loss during regular cooking and more efficient energy use. If you run the self-cleaning cycle immediately after cooking, the high self-cleaning oven temperature will reduce the energy used to get it up to the maximum level needed.
  • Cost—appliance manufacturers suggest the extra cost of purchasing a self-cleaning oven is offset by its convenience and time-saving attributes. They also indicate that the energy savings achieved during cooking (due to extra insulation) and no need to purchase pricey chemical cleaners also balance the initial expenditure.

The big reveal.
Are self-cleaning ovens safe? Now that we’ve discussed exactly what self-cleaning ovens are designed to do, let’s understand this feature’s negative impact and potential hazards.

1. Major Parts Damage

The extremely high self-cleaning oven temperature required to run the self-cleaning cycle can significantly compromise major components of your oven.

Locking mechanism

oven door locking mechanism
Replacing door locking mechanism affected by self-cleaning feature. Oven repair service call from Barrie

This assembly is supposed to lock and unlock automatically after completing the cycle. It’s common for this to malfunction and get stuck in the locked position. This will require a service call and part replacement.

Thermostat/Thermal fuses

New Oven Thermostat
Brand new oven thermostat

This assembly is supposed to lock and unlock automatically after completing the cycle. It’s common for this to malfunction and gets stuck in the locked position. This will require a service call and part replacement.

Electronic boards/Touch panels

oven main electronic board defects
Burnt mainboard from Ottawa oven repair service call

Aka “the brain,” these control units work together to ensure your oven responds to your orders. These components sit on top of the oven and can be affected by the intense heat generated from self-cleaning. You may see error codes, the oven turning on and off at will, or everything shutting down completely. These parts are costly to replace and require an appliance technician to correct them.

Wires and contact terminals

oven wires and main board-connectors
Back wall oven wires and mainboard connectors are affected by extreme temperatures of self-cleaning mode.

A maze of wires and connectors distributes electricity to all parts of your stove. While they are covered with thermal insulation to protect them from the heat of normal cooking, the extreme and prolonged temperature needed for the self-cleaning mode may melt the insulation and damage the wiring. Pinpointing the exact problem area could require numerous visits and significant troubleshooting.

Miscellaneous interior components

broken heating element
After running the self-cleaning mode several times, the Oven heating element broke in four places. Oven repair Toronto service call

Everything from the light bulbs and glass housings to thermal sensors to the enamel inside your oven could be damaged from the process. While these parts may not fail on the first use, continued applications compromise every part inside your oven.

If your oven shows an error code during or soon after using the cleaning mode, it’s likely related. Consult your owner’s manual to identify the error code and contact FIX Appliances CA to schedule a quick-response service call. Here’s a quick table of error codes for Whirlpool, Maytag, Frigidaire, Electrolux, GE (General Electric), Ikea and Kenmore range stoves:

Newer Whirlpool and Maytag Range Fault Codes
Whirlpool builds some Kenmore and Ikea ranges

Errors – Locking mechanism Errors – Electronic Oven Controls (EOC)
F5 – E1 F1 – E0
F5 – E2 F1 – E1
F5 – E3 F1 – E2
F5 – E4 F1 – E4
F5 – E5 F0
F5 – E6 F1
F9 F2


Newer Frigidaire and Electrolux Range Fault Codes
Frigidaire builds some Kenmore ranges

Errors – Locking mechanism Errors – Electronic Oven Controls (EOC)
F90 F10
F95 F11
F8 F12
F9 F13


Newer GE (General Electric) Range Fault Codes

Errors – Locking mechanism Errors – Electronic Oven Controls (EOC)
F0 or F1 or F2

2. Dangerous Smoke, Odours and Carbon Monoxide

Failure to remove bigger pieces of food debris or liquid from your oven before running the self-cleaning feature can lead to excessive smoke and foul odours. In addition, those pieces may not break down into ashes but bake on even harder. Sugary foods and spills can create enough smoke to set off fire alarms or cause eye and breathing issues.

Worse yet, a North Iowa Municipal Electric Cooperative Association study discovered that carbon monoxide is produced when food residue is burned during the self-cleaning cycle. This poisonous gas is odourless, tasteless, and invisible. Carbon monoxide is responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths every year. You must open windows and run an exhaust fan to dissipate gas fumes during cleaning. Keep a working carbon monoxide detector in your home, as there is no way to eliminate carbon monoxide emissions when using this function.

3. Family Safety

Children and pets can be at great risk of burns as the oven’s exterior also gets extremely hot, so you should never leave kids or animals in the kitchen unattended while cleaning.

Toxic fumes emanating from the smoke cloud can also be dangerous to anyone with asthma or respiratory diseases. The Teflon coating inside your oven can break down when exposed to high temperatures, and inhaling the fumes can lead to breathing issues, coughing, sweating, chills and flu-like symptoms.

Animals, especially birds, are also at risk from smoke and fumes. Large amounts of oxygen are required to maintain a bird’s flight muscles. The toxicity in the off-gasses can quickly permeate through the bird’s body and even cause death.

Ventilating the kitchen is insufficient to protect your family or animals from breathing in harmful fumes. If you use the self-cleaning feature on your oven, ensure family members (including children) and animals are as far away from the room as possible during the process.

4. Fire Hazard

Last but certainly not least, the self-cleaning feature can present a fire hazard. Even if you’ve removed all the larger food particles, you’ll likely have grease or cooking oil splatters and spills to burn off. With an inside temperature exceeding 500° C and a flashpoint (the temperature at which items can self-combust without an ignition source) between 750 to 815°F° or between 400 to 435° C, your leftover pepperoni grease can start on fire.

A word of advice: If your oven does catch on fire during the clean cycle, don’t try to put it out. Even if the oven has cooled sufficiently for the door to open, doing so will allow oxygen to rush in and fuel the flames. If it is fully engulfed, get out of the house and call 911.

So, now what? Are self-cleaning ovens safe for you and your family? It is the decision of any customer.

Thus, having figured out all the pros and cons of using the self-cleaning feature on your oven, you may wonder what alternatives might be available to remove grease and grime safely.

Manual Cleaning Tips

Nobody looks forward to oven cleaning. But ovens are one of those kitchen appliances that have the distinct ability to turn into a culinary crime scene really fast. Do not forget that a relatively clean oven also makes for tastier food and fewer germs. And it is wise, and we do recommend to spot-clean throughout the month. Let’s discuss the most popular cleaning methods.

Organic Cleaning Method

Talking about natural cleaners, we mean eco-friendly products like baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, dish soap and cream of tartar can all be used to rid your oven of stubborn food stains without using toxic chemicals. Several recipes for all-natural cleaning combine products to produce a paste. Allowing the mixture to sit overnight or bake at low temperature for an hour will loosen grime and easily wipe clean with a damp sponge. Fortunately, organic oven cleaners prove that you don’t have to worry about wearing gloves to use it. Besides, You don’t have to turn your oven on, and you can use it immediately after cleaning with baking soda.

Chemical Cleaning Methods

On the contrary, we insist on being careful when using chemicals during oven cleaning. If you’ve ever looked at the ingredients on the label of a commercial oven cleaner, you know it’s a laundry list of chemicals. Conventional oven cleaners contain a range of chemicals, such as potassium hydroxide, monoethanolamine, sodium hydroxide, and butoxydiglycol. These and other chemicals can irritate your respiratory system and burn your skin, lungs, and eyes. Commercial cleaners usually come in spray form and can be quite harsh but are very effective at removing debris and grease without extreme temperature or difficult scrubbing. The professionals recommend wearing long gloves and avoiding inhaling the fumes. It is clear that most customers are concerned about using these chemicals around their families and pets or in an appliance used to cook food.

Thus, as you can see, everyone can choose the best cleaning method suitable for him and his family. But we advise considering the above-mentioned issues when you make your choice!

New Technologies Recommended

If you’re in the market for a new oven and want to avoid the current self-cleaning options, it is necessary to remember that over the last few years, appliance companies such as Whirlpool and Bosch have improved oven functions and are ready to suggest safer “self-cleaning” technologies:

  • Eco Clean Direct Oven from Bosch – includes a ceramic coating on the back wall of the oven (ceiling and side walls can be upgraded) to reduce spills from sticking.
  • AquaLift technology from Whirlpool – uses a special coating that activates water and low-temperature heat to remove dirt and debris easily. It is safe, odourless, energy and time-saving.
  • Auto-cleaning or “pyrolytic cleaning” – works by heating the insides of the oven up to 500ºC. Here, grease will be burnt off the sides, and any spills and scraps of dried-on food will be reduced to a pile of ash to be swept away.

Before buying any home appliance, always do your research keeping in mind safety and possible damage consequences. Watch and read technology descriptions and reviews, ask questions on local forums or ask local appliance repair experts.

Contact Pros at Fix Appliances CA

How you maintain your oven is a personal preference, but keep in mind that a high percentage of service calls are due to failures related to the self-cleaning feature.

Always consult your owner’s manual for recommendations for using the clean mode on your appliance. Feel confident that FIX Appliances CA will be their appliance installation in Toronto or help problems arise.

Do you have problems with your oven?

Our oven repair experts will properly diagnose and fix your oven or stove. Same-day repair service is available.

For Same-Day service, our local company with its local technicians serves the GTA and southern Ontario. We’ll be more than happy to help you. Request range, stove, oven or outdoor kitchen Toronto repair now at toll-free: 888-242-0777 

Now available to repair refrigerators in Ottawa, Kanata, Nepean or other areas of Southern Ontario in the same day service. Would you please reach us at 613-900-1979? Call before noon to check availability. We always try to find a free spot on our schedule for your repair.

Date of page creation: July 15, 2021

Page update date: October 06, 2023

Ask a Question

2 comments on “Are Self-Cleaning Ovens Safe? 6 Reasons to Stop Using Self-Cleaning Oven

Hello Catherine Edwards,
As the water turns to steam, it fills the oven cavity. The steam helps to soften and loosen food particles, grease, and other residues that may have accumulated on the oven walls, racks, and other surfaces.

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