How Do Self-Cleaning Ovens Work?

Let’s face it, when it comes to kitchen-based chores, cleaning the oven is probably one of the most hated. You’re faced with the charred, baked-on remnants of meals from the past month, presenting you with slimes, crumbs and stains which you’ll have to scrub, chisel and launch a chemical attack against to get rid of.

To save us from spending the weekend inhaling noxious fumes from cleaning chemicals, manufacturers introduced self-cleaning ovens, so this month we’re going to take a look at how they work, how effective they are and throw out some alternatives.

self cleaning ovens work at high temperatures

How do self-cleaning ovens work?

Self-cleaning ovens work in a number of different ways depending on the model you have. There are three mains styles and they are:

Catalytic cleaning ovenThis type of oven features a special catalytic liner on the walls of the oven. This means that the walls can absorb the grease and residue from your cooking, before oxidising it all into a dust which can be easily swept from the bottom of the oven where it will collect.

Pyrolytic cleaningFor a definitive clean, look no further than pyrolytic cleaning. Similar to the catalytic style, this type of oven leaves behind a fine ash which can be wiped away. It uses very high temperatures to incinerate any grease and waste, locking the door for safety.

Steam cleaningA short cleaning programme which can be specifically selected, all you need to do is put a little bit of water in the bottom of the oven, close the door and let it do the rest. The oven will heat the water and the steam will make cleaning away stubborn grease and grime a doddle.

Are there any downsides to having a self-cleaning oven?

While there are obviously plenty of reasons you’d want a self-cleaning oven, you should probably be aware of the potential downsides. There are several, but it’s not to say that you’d definitely encounter them – a lot will depend on the individual make and model, as well as the type of cleaning function.

High temperatures – As previously mentioned, some models use extremely high temperatures to achieve a clean, and while the door should remain locked, this might be a safety concern for parents.

Smoke risk – If you don’t use the cleaning function regularly, or if the seal around the over door fails even a little bit, you could be at risk of smoke building up when eeking out of the appliance. This might then set off smoke alarms and isn’t pleasant for anyone.

Toxic to pets – This isn’t a risk with every oven, but it has been suggested that the fumes which might emanate from a self-cleaning oven could make pets ill. This is particularly a risk for birds, who use a lot of oxygen but would replace that with polytetrafluoroethylene if your oven does give out fumes.

Are there any other ways to keep my oven clean?

Since not all models come with a self-cleaning mode, and not everyone will want to use it even if they have it, it’s probably a good idea to have other methods for keeping your oven clean.

If you wanted to avoid harsh chemicals, then you can revert back to the trusty combination of baking soda and vinegar. Some people swear by it, others find it ineffective, so it’ll be up to you to decide whether it works or not. Apparently, if you dust your oven with baking soda – having already scraped away any loose cunk or dropped food – then spray a light amount of vinegar from a spray bottle, you’ll get the fizzy, foaming reaction. This should then make wiping out the oven much easier, but it may require more than one attempt if your oven is particularly caked with grime.

For more tips and news about ovens, hobs and other appliances, you can browse our Help and Advice centre. Make Domex your first stop for all your appliance advice and guidance! If you require any repairs for your self-cleaning oven, simply contact us to arrange an appointment with our engineers.