Should I Use the Self-Cleaning Cycle on My Oven?

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The self-cleaning feature on your oven sounds enticing. Why spend hours scrubbing away grease and grime when your oven can do it automatically? Before you fire it up, however, be aware of the pros and cons of using it.

Even though the self-cleaning cycle makes life easier, there are some risks to be aware of. In some cases, it can do more harm than good. Let’s take a look at the downsides to using the self-cleaning cycle and how to use it safely if you do opt to use it.

Reasons to Avoid the Self-Cleaning Cycle

Who doesn’t love the idea of an oven that cleans itself? Alas, there’s no such thing as a free lunch (or a labor-free oven cleaning, as it were).

Carbon Monoxide and Other Toxic Fumes

Do you know all that baked-on crud at the bottom of your oven? Well, the high heat from an oven’s self-clean feature burns all that charred food away. That’s how it makes your oven so clean. But in doing so, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a hard-to-detect gas, which is dangerous for human and animal health.

Other toxic fumes are created during the high-heat self-cleaning cycle, such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). These fumes are especially dangerous for birds due to the efficiency of their respiratory systems—meaning their bodies absorb the toxins fast.

Most ovens have a Teflon coating on the inside, which is made to withstand the normal heat from baking and even broiling. However, this coating isn’t designed for repeated exposure to the high temperatures used during a self-clean cycle.

Whether you’re worried about pet exposure or your own exposure, the smoke and outgassing generated by the self-cleaning cycle is something to be aware of.

Blown Fuses and Control Panels

Traditional self-cleaning cycles use high temperatures to melt away the build-up of grease and caked-on food. These temps skyrocket as high as 900-1000°F. These temperatures are 2-3 times higher than the normal operating temperature of your oven, and it’s not surprising they’re a little rough on it.

Newer ovens are designed with the heating elements hidden, which helps to avoid smoking when food splatters or drips. But the downside to this design is that it’s difficult for air to circulate correctly around these elements. This sadly contributes towards damaged heating elements, blown fuses, and damage to electronics within the oven.

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