Let’s start with a bit of science. When you put your self-cleaning oven on it goes to a high temperature of 800-1000 degrees incinerating the debris in your stove for hours.. What’s wrong with this approach….let’s count the ways.
First, is your stove vented to the outdoors during the process, NO…where do you think the particulates are going ? You guessed it, right into your home air. Not what you want your family or pets to inhale. Second, it puts the electronics of the stove at risk, yep it’s not unusual for it to be the cause of a repair, and third how about the energy use, it’s grossly excessive and costly.
Let’s look at the output chemistry from cleaning the dirt and grease during the self-cleaning cycle. The high heat impacts the complex molecules of the food residue, leaving behind a carbon-rich ash. The intent is to be able to wipe clean the debris at the end of the self-clean process.
Now the rub, we know that there is an addition to your air of carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) released as the oven dirt and grease are incinerated. The more dirt and especially grease, at the start of the cycle the more these chemicals are released.
Curiously you would think there would be some science to qualify our risk . Currently, there doesn’t appear to be any well-done studies, I looked. Not surprising as each of our ovens will have different contents when cycled and they are different in terms of temperature and timing and what would happen if it became an industry wide concern ? Did you know that 60+% of oven buyers specify self-cleaning options ?. However, chemistry is chemistry and there is no question that with high heat we create these toxic chemicals
Now for some bad news, we do know that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are considered carcinogens. Pause for a moment and let’s just consider the best approach. Don’t use the self-clean cycle or…. perhaps run a fan out the window when it’s in use ? There currently is no clinical evidence regarding how much CO is released during the self-clean cycle.
Options for cleaning:
Line the interior of the oven with foil
Try the steam cleaning method: small tray of distilled water in the oven on low heat, then scrape might suffice
Use the baking soda and vinegar approach: (see below) there are 3 variations for these methods of cleaning
If you get a self-cleaning oven it’s probably better insulated, so a good investment but don’t use this setting
Does anyone in the house have a respiratory issue ? No go on the self-cleaning setting
If you do use the self-cleaning setting, set up a fan in a window to exhaust the fumes.
Using a gas
Baking soda is non-toxic, inexpensive, easy-to-use, and remarkably effective on cleaning oven grease. Baking soda is alkaline, and oven grease made of food particles is typically acidic. Baking soda neutralizes acids and breaks down the grease, allowing you to wipe it up without a lot of elbow grease. It’s also a mild abrasive, so it works well at removing dried, stuck-on foods. You don’t have to turn your oven on, and you can use it immediately after cleaning with baking soda.
In most cases, baking soda works its magic in just 15 minutes, making oven cleaning less of an arduous chore and more something you can do in the span of a single episode of your favorite sitcom.
The basic baking soda oven cleaner recipe for regularly cleaned or lightly soiled ovens is as follows:
- ½ cup ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda
- 3 tablespoons water
- In a small bowl, combine the ingredients to make a paste roughly the consistency of pancake batter.
- Remove the racks from the oven.
- Using a rubber spatula or a gloved hand, smear the paste over the dirty parts, whether metal or glass. Avoid the heating elements.
- Let the paste sit for 15-20 minutes.
- Wipe up the paste and loosened dirt and grease with wet paper towels.
- Wipe the oven’s interior with a wet paper towel, using water or a 3:1 mixture of water and distilled vinegar.
Repeat if necessary for tougher stains, or try the heavy-duty method below.
Heavy Duty Oven Cleaning with Baking Soda
Let’s face it. Sometimes we don’t always make cleaning the oven a priority. Sometimes months, even years, can go by between oven cleanings. It happens. If your oven is in the heavily soiled category, you can still use baking soda to get it back to sparkling. Try this alternate recipe instead:
- 1 pound ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda
- 1 tablespoon salt (regular table salt is fine)
- 2 tablespoons water
Mix together in a bowl to make a thick, sandy paste, along the consistency of cake icing, adding additional water 1/2 tablespoon at a time if needed. This recipe will make enough to deep clean an oven floor. Triple the recipe if you are doing the back, sides, ceiling, and oven floor.
Remove the racks from your oven. Using a spatula, cover the entire metal or glass surfaces with the paste. Shut the oven door and leave it overnight in the cold oven. The paste will harden by morning.
Once the paste is hardened, use the rubber spatula and warm, wet paper towels to loosen and wipe up the baking soda and dirt. You’ll reveal the oven’s original, stain-free surface underneath and your oven will have gone through an extreme makeover.
Cleaning Your Oven with Baking Soda and Vinegar
You can also use vinegar in a spray bottle to help baking soda get the job done and to be sure you’ve removed all baking soda after cleaning. Here’s a quick oven-cleaning with baking soda shortcut you can use immediately after you have a spill in your oven.
- Sprinkle baking soda liberally over the stain.
- Spritz with water, or a 3:1 water to white vinegar solution. If you use vinegar, baking soda will bubble.
- Let sit for 15-20 minutes, after your oven has cooled.
- Wipe up baking soda and dissolved food with wet paper towels.
- Wipe the entire oven interior with a 3:1 water to vinegar solution.
- Be satisfied at a job well done.