Spillovers and splatters in the oven are inevitable despite the efforts made to prevent them.
Whether it is cake batter oozing over the baking tin or melted cheese on pizza and sandwiches, splattering can seriously mess up the inside the oven.
It is important to clean regularly in line with your cooking routine to avoid heavy build-ups. The more you cook foods that have a high probability of spilling over, the more the number of times you need to clean.
When in the market for not only a new oven but any kitchen appliance, it is important to understand the available cleaning options.
In this article, we have outlined the different oven cleaning methods. We will also learn about what is oven self clean feature.
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What is Oven Self Clean Feature?
Self-clean ovens, as the name suggests, are ovens that employ techniques to automatically help you remove the stubborn stains and spillovers that have been collected on the surface and on the walls of the oven over time.
There are basically two types of self cleaning ovens and they are as follows:
1. Heated Self-Clean Oven
Heated self-clean ovens are ovens that use a relatively high temperature to decompose food soils from cooking and baking.
These are the most common types of self-cleaning ovens.
These ovens are cleaned without any commercial chemical agents. The self-clean ovens are coated with acid- and heat-resistant porcelain enamel. This allows greasy and stubborn stains to be removed quite easily.
However, in instances when very hard stains cannot be removed despite having an enamel coating, the self clean ovens use a heating mechanism to help you clean.
Heated Self-clean ovens use intense heat to self-clean, at temperatures high above normal cooking temperatures. At the start of the process, the oven doors lock automatically, and then the temperature rises to 500 degrees Celsius (or 900 degrees Fahrenheit).
At this level, any food soils present in the oven are burnt off and reduced to ash, which is easy to wipe out using a wet sponge.
The cleaning cycle depends on the amount of the spillovers and splatters present and may take approximately three hours or more.
Throughout the cycle, the door remains shut due to the very hot temperatures inside.
It is important to note that there would be release of unpleasant burning odors and fumes during the cleaning process.
Intense heat self-cleaning ovens distribute the high temperature throughout the oven house, so chances of finding grime residues on the walls or ceiling are almost nil.
Unfortunately, there are risks involved in this method since the very high oven temperature can damage or even burn nearby cabinets or countertops.
Therefore, it is advisable to use heated self-clean feature in a highly ventilated environment and in the presence of safety equipment.
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2. Steam Self-Clean Ovens
Steam Self-clean ovens are a newer technology. These are much safer as this operates at a much lower temperature.
Steam clean is initiated by pouring one cup of distilled water on the floor cavity, then closing the door and setting the oven to “steam clean” mode.
The cycle lasts only half an hour to an hour, during which time food remains and spillovers in the oven are loosened and softened for easy removal. The remains can then be wiped out using a soft cloth.
Steam clean uses a low temperature of about 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, the doors remain unlocked. The racks and pans remain inside during steam cleaning because there is no chemical used.
Unfortunately, in self-clean steam ovens, however, most of the steam is concentrated near the water floor. You may need to clean the upper walls and the ceiling manually.
Therefore, while the risks involved in steam self-clean oven are low, the cleaning isn’t as deep as heated self-clean ovens.
Preparation is Key
After purchasing a self-clean oven, there is a high probability you will try out the self-clean feature at one point.
As such, it is important to reduce the risk of malfunction and also ensure the cleaning cycle completes without any technicalities.
You have to adhere to some safety rules, including:
1. Carbon Monoxide Detector Installation
Both steam and intense heat self-cleaning processes emit unpleasant fumes and odors, including some harmful gases like carbon monoxide.
These fumes, odors, and gases are directed to the outside of the oven via the oven vent.
Self-clean ovens that use high-heat technology tend to emit large volumes of toxic fumes due to the disintegration of food during the cycle. The fumes, odors, and gases emanates from the food soils and the porcelain enamel that lines the interior of the oven.
Once the toxic fumes reach the immediate environment, it might irritate the inhabitants.
While carbon dioxide can be distinctively smelled, carbon monoxide is odorless but highly toxic. In a closed and a poorly ventilated environment, carbon monoxide emitted during the self-clean cycle can become a potential danger.
Therefore, you need to install a carbon monoxide detector to monitor harmful gases and fumes. If you detect too much production of harmful elements, you should terminate the cleaning process immediately.
The importance of good ventilation during the self-clean cycle cannot be understated.
A 1,000 degree Fahrenheit is no joke and the fact that the oven cycle lasts for 3 – 4 hours at a sustained 1,000 degree Fahrenheit temperate poses a great danger to the nearby cabinets, shelves, countertops as well as to the inhabitants.
Therefore, make sure that oven is removed and is placed in a well ventilated area.
Oven vents located below or above the oven doors, or in some models behind door handles, should not be covered.
Similarly, if you have a gas oven connected to a stove, it is important to activate the exhaust fan on the hood to ensure the expulsion of fumes outdoors.
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3. Remove Oven Racks, Crumb Trays, Tin Foil Shards and Pans
In the high heat of the cycle, the metal items in the oven can catch fire, and the foils can melt on the oven’s lining.
The racks can also lose their shine if they are not stainless steel.
Therefore, as a precaution, remove all the equipment and utensils from the inside. The manual would come extremely handy here.
4. Reduce Energy Consumption
Some self-clean oven models allow you to adjust the time of the cycle. In such a case, it is advisable to set it to the minimum time possible.
This feature reduces overheating, decreasing risks of blown fuses and also helps you with your energy bills.
5. Remove Large Debris and Dry Spills
Before starting the self-cleaning process, it is important to remove large chunks of food manually to reduce the amount of fumes generated once the process starts.
Do not self-clean your oven before an important even like thanksgiving!
There is no reason you would cancel a party or even postpone one because your oven broke down.
Most of the new self-heat oven models on the market have concealed heating elements above the oven ceiling as well as under the oven floor. Although it is a great improvement over traditional ovens, their feature interferes with air circulation and ventilation.
Fuses might pop, and control panels can burn up due to extreme temperatures. Repair expenses might be high if the concealed heating elements get damaged.
Therefore it is important to self-clean your oven after you have scrutinized your calendar and ensure no big dinners, parties, or holidays are around the corner.
As a general rule, you should self-clean your oven a maximum of six times in a year.
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Self Clean vs Manual Clean
You might think the self-clean feature is designed to replace manual cleaning. No, it is not! Whether self-cleaning or not, manual cleaning is necessary once in a while.
Besides, even self-clean ovens have to be cleaned manually after the self-clean cycle to remove the residue and ashes.
However, just as prevention is better than cure, manual clean can save you from ever relying on self-cleaning ovens.
After each oven use, it is important to wipe away liquids and wet food splatters and spill-overs from sidewalls, inner glass doors, oven floors and ceiling with a damp sponge or rag.
As for the removable parts such as racks, crumb trays, and baking pans, they are washed under the sink. Do not forget to wipe clean the exterior using a damp cloth.
This will ensure that your ovens lasts for a longer span of time before self-cleaning is needed.
Standard oven cleaning work can be made easy by household natural agents such as vinegar, water, and baking soda. Abrasive cleaning items such as steel wool or chemical cleaners are not recommended as they could damage the interior enamel coating.
In short, while manual cleaning may seem tedious, it is less risky and the more often you do it, the longer will your oven last.
When you purchase an oven, how you take care of your appliance is entirely a personal decision, but be sure not to get carried away!
Self-clean ovens can certainly make your life easier, but they posses a certain risk and are not the 100% substitute for manual cleaning.
It is important to follow a self-clean oven user manual to reduce risks related to extend its useful life.