A self-cleaning oven, i.e., the holy grail of appliances! Wouldn’t it be great if all our appliances were self-cleaning? I could retire from Clean My Space, and we could all kick our feet up and watch Netflix all the time. Sadly, this isn’t the case. And a lot of you have a lot of questions about self-cleaning ovens. How do self-cleaning ovens work? Do you really not need to clean self-cleaning ovens? How do you clean a self-cleaning oven? I hear you!

Whoever invented the self-cleaning oven is brilliant—cleaning the oven is one of the most difficult cleaning tasks we have to face in the kitchen. The fact that we have an appliance that can clean itself is pretty awesome. The problem is people are scared to use the self-cleaning function on their self-cleaning ovens—either it gets too hot, it smokes, and/or it smells. Are your failed recipes living on the bottom of your self-clean oven? Still? If so, here is the best, quickest, and proper way to clean your self-cleaning oven!

Melissa Maker at the stove with a pot

Should I Just Clean It By Hand?

Heck no! It can clean itself! Self-cleaning ovens have a pyrolytic coating on the inside of the oven that allows it to self-clean. It enables the oven to heat up to high temperatures and burns off any caked-on food residue, making it easy to wipe off afterward. 

Cleaning it by hand, whether using chemicals or abrasive products, wears away that pyrolytic coating, making the self-clean cycle less effective. Plus, you spent all that money to have a self-cleaning oven, so why do the extra work if you don’t have to?

Review Manufacturer Instructions

Every appliance is different, so what works for one might not work for another. Most heat up to roughly the same temperature and have safety precautions in place (like self-locking doors) to keep you safe. 

That said, reviewing the instructions provided with the appliance is always the first thing I do when I tackle any new task with a particular appliance. And it’s what you should do too, for your own safety and to ensure you’re caring for your appliance correctly. 

Ventilate Your Space

Open any windows, run your overhead fan, and try to stay out of the kitchen. It will get hot, and, depending on how bad the inside of your oven is, there might be a smell and a bit of smoke that goes with it. You also don’t want to have the smoke linger inside your house and stick to walls and other things, or potentially set off any smoke alarms.

If you have any pets, move them as far away from the kitchen as possible. And never leave pets home alone while your oven is self-cleaning. Better yet, be home to supervise the process in case a fire alarm does go off or you encounter another issue. 

Strip Your Self-Cleaning Oven

Take everything out from inside and around the oven, including the drawer underneath. Don’t forget to remove the racks inside your oven. The reason you don’t want to leave your racks inside the oven is that that shiny metallic coating will actually become dull from the high temperatures used in the cleaning process. 

Racks can easily be cleaned in a sink or tub using a soft sponge and a little DIY cleaner. I often leave my racks to soak in the sink as the oven cleans, then when the self-cleaning cycle is over, my racks are ready to be scrubbed. I have a whole article on How To Clean Oven Racks, so check that out if you need more tips. 

Remove Any Caked-On Food

Before starting your self-clean cycle, try to remove any heavy food residue (if possible) from the bottom or side of the oven. You can either do this by hand or find a non-scratching tool like a Skrapr to help you with this task. 

While not absolutely necessary, removing caked-on food makes the self-clean cycle more effective, especially if you have some really bad spills down there. If you don’t have any notable spills in your oven, you can skip this step. And be sure to read my article on Cleaning Up Oven Spills to make your life a whole lot easier. 

Running The Self Clean Cycle

Once you set the self-clean cycle, the door will lock and prevent you from opening it during the process. This is for your own protection, so if you hear a loud click and it won’t open, rest assured that it’s doing the right thing. It takes a few hours, depending on the oven, as it heats up to crazy-high temperatures. During this process, anything inside turns into greyish-white ash, kind of like what you would see remaining after a campfire. After the cycle has completed, the door will remain locked until the oven has cooled down completely and is safe enough to open.

Once the self-clean cycle has run its course, all you need to do is take a damp microfiber cloth and wipe the oven top to bottom, rinsing all surfaces thoroughly to remove any of that ashy residue. Now simply replace the oven racks and the drawer below, and your oven is good to go!

Melissa Maker in her kitchen holding microfiber cloths

Cleaning The Glass Panel

If you notice that the glass panel on the inside of your oven door is still dirty after the self-cleaning cycle, you’ll need to use a little bit of elbow grease. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on the glass and splash with a touch of water to create a paste. Rub that all over the glass and let it sit for a half-hour to an hour. 

After an hour, take a wet sponge and wipe (or scrub if required) off the baking soda. The paste should help remove any build-up, grease, or grime left on the oven door. Be careful not to put too much water on there. If water gets through the barrier around the window, you’ll forever see those drip marks! For more stubborn stains, you can try using an enzyme cleaner to remove them.

How To Clean A Self-Cleaning Oven

OK, you did it! You made it to the end of the article, and you are now a self-cleaning oven expert. Well, maybe not yet. But you will be. So don’t be intimidated by the self-cleaning cycle, and don’t waste your time cleaning your self-cleaning oven by hand!

Just remember to follow any safety precautions stated in the instructions, ventilate the area, and keep your pets far away from the kitchen. 

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. Hi, I cleaned my self cleaning oven with baking soda and an abrasive scrubber once or twice without thinking it would harm it. Can I use the self cleaning function or have I ruined it? Thanks for your help!

  2. No using the self cleaning mode here either. 4yr old oven virtually no food residue but wanted to get rid of the sticky drips that can accumulate. I have had an oven fire about 5yrs ago (bad heating element) and left me w PTSD, couldn’t touch new stove for 2yrs. My newer oven is essentially spotless at all times. Lower heating element started sparking, house filled with smoke. Had to shut the breaker off. I think I’m giving up on oven cooking from now on.

  3. We have a self cleaning oven but the latch is broken so it will not seal. What is the best way to clean the oven since we can’t use the self clean cycle.

  4. Help! I didn’t realize a plastic top was stuck to the bottom of a metal pan reheating pizza in my self cleaning oven . The smell of melting plastic alerted me to the horrendous mistake. Hit most off, but how do you get rid of thin film, not thick enough to scrape, on the bottom? Can Easy Iff no fume be used? I’m putting racks in tub this morning.

  5. I’m married to a retired firefighter. No self-cleaning cycle for us. He said he’s been on too many house fires that started due to the high temps of the self-clean cycle.

  6. Exactly! We’ve used ours for years. It is a godsend. Don’t even think about buying an oven without it. Watch out for the fakers that say they are self-cleaning where you pour water into the bottom of them. The water self-clean ovens mean you clean them yourself.

    With a real self-cleaning oven, there are two things you need to do:
    1. If you have a huge, mound from a spill-over in the bottom of the oven, DO NOT run the self-clean yet. Mop up the excess with a dishrag first. Otherwise it will burst into flames during the cycle and produce a lot of smoke. We only did that once with a lot of spilled over blueberry filling. It’s scary to see yellow flames filling the inside, but in the end it didn’t hurt anything but it triggered smoke alarms and we had to open windows. For normal spills that get baked on to the bottom, we don’t touch them. The self-cleaning cycle will take care of that fine.

    2. Have good ventilation because it will smell temporarily because the oven is going to get up to ~900 degrees. Depending on which setting you choose it will take 2-3 hours. The oven will lock itself shut during the entire cycle so someone doesn’t get burned.

    No, there are no toxic or lingering smells. That is nonsense. You wouldn’t be able to sell them if there were. It is dried food being burned to light gray ash. When finished, wipe down the interior with a damp dish rag and you have a sparkling clean oven. Harsh, toxic chemicals are what you encounter when you don’t have a self-cleaning oven or use cleaners instead of the cycle. The self-cleaning cycle does not require rubber gloves and a mask, and save a lot of money, time, and effort.

  7. I absolutely agree with DLR. No way will I use that self-cleaning cycle. Couple months ago, my neighbor used her’s for the first time. (She had moved in less than a year ago.) Neighbors including me thought there was something burning or rotting in the building. (I now live in a condo apt.) That toxic smell permeated all the hallways but gratefully didn’t leach into apartments other than her’s. Yes, she had vented thoroughly. She said getting rid of the smell in her apartment took 3 days. Yup, no way will use my toxic-spewing self-cleaning cycle. Love your videos and web site. Your instruction and advice are always first-rate.

  8. Did you know if you remove the bottom drawer, there is a slot on the lower part of some oven doors that allows you to slip something flat in to the door to clean the glass from the inside?

  9. No way! My self-cleaning oven blew a circuit the first time I tried it. It took my husband all day to fix it. Thank God he did because nobody makes a 27″ drop-in oven anymore. I’ll just use Easy-Off.

  10. One tip I read somewhere for really bad awful crusty ovens is to put a pan of water in the oven, turn it to 200F & let it go for a few hours. Then wipe down the bottom & sides & run the self-clean cycle. This saves you from having to run the self clean cycle twice, which for really really bad ovens sometimes has to be done.

    • She recommends Biokleen’s Bac-out on her channel all of the time. I like it, but I also like Puracy’s Stain Remover as it has 6 (I think) different enzymes. Though I haven’t used either on my oven door.

  11. Wow,I did not know about the self cleaning process!Thank you for your input on such a dreary task as oven cleaning.
    My tip for cleaning the oven racks is to soak them in non-bio washing powder for half an hour then see the grease come off,wipe or use a scourer for stubborn bits.????

  12. I have also loved your advice on cleaning oven racks – and whenever I clean my oven I soak my racks in the bathtub (lined with towels) and they come clean so easily. Great tip.
    I am looking for a way to clean my Whirlpool convection microwave. It gets very dirty when baking things like pork chops and is very difficult to clean. I have searched everywhere for help – all that’s said is place water in it for clean cycle (this makes steam to loosen grease) and wipe down with soapy water. Especially around the metal fan – this doesn’t get all the burnt on grime off. Do you have any information on this? Just never looks clean.


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