Do you ever find yourself wishing that your house could just...clean itself? Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work that way—but there is at least thing in your home that actually does: your oven! By now you probably know that your oven (and most ovens) include a handy self-cleaning feature. But do you know how it works or how to use it? Not to worry, we've rounded up everything you need to know about how to use a self-cleaning oven, and even talked to a couple cleaning experts to bring you pro tips on the process.
The self-clean cycle on an oven typically involves heating the interior to extremely high temperatures, often around 900 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. This intense heat helps to turn food residues and grease into ash, which can then be easily wiped away after the cycle is finished. During this process, the oven door locks for safety reasons and cannot be opened.
The answer depends on how often you use your oven and how much buildup of food residue you have.
"If you're someone that cooks often and makes things that bubble and/or explode in the oven...and you don't wipe up the spills, you'll need to self-clean more often," says Warren Weiss, founder of
As a general guideline, it's recommended to self-clean your oven every three to six months. However, if you notice significant spills or buildup, you should consider running the self-clean cycle on the sooner side.
Experts say you should never leave your oven unattended during self-cleaning. Although the self-clean cycle subjects the oven to extreme heat, which can produce fumes and odors from burning food residues, these emissions are not necessarily harmful. Both Weiss and Becky Rapinchuk, a cleaning expert and founder of the popular cleaning website
"Open the windows, start it early in the day, and make sure you'll be home for the whole cycle to keep an eye on the oven while it's working," Rapinchuk says.
The duration of the self-clean cycle varies among different oven models but generally lasts two to six hours. Some ovens have shorter cycles, while others may have longer ones, especially if the cleaning process involves lower temperatures for a more extended period. Weiss recommends scheduling a date and time for self-cleaning your oven so it doesn't interfere with any plans you have at home. "
No matter how long your self-clean cycle takes, you can feel confident that it's an efficient way to maintain a clean oven without relying on chemical cleaners!
To get started, remove any loose items or spills from the oven. Ensure that the oven racks are also taken out, as the high temperatures during the self-clean cycle can discolor them. Be sure to also remove anything located above the stove, and anything hanging from the oven door. Close the door and find the self-clean setting on the oven control panel. Set the desired cleaning time and your oven door will lock automatically.
"When it's done, crack the oven open to let it slowly cool down," Rapinchuk recommends. "When it's completely cool, wipe or vacuum out any debris."
In addition to following these tips, be sure to refer to your oven's manual for more specific instructions, since procedures can vary between different models.