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Auto-Cleaning the Oven?

  • l

Auto-Clean.

Sounds too good to be true, but today I decided to try it.

The oven came with the house, so I don’t have the owner’s manual. It’s an old Jenn-Aire. Say 10-12 years old.

I followed the instructions on the inside of the oven door: set the cycle to “Clean”, set the temperature to “Clean,” set the time and wait. When I set the start time, it seemed to prompt for a stop time well over an hour later. As I’m still a little timid on this one, and didn’t want to burn the house down, I set it for 15 minutes.

I then stood there with the fire extinguisher in one hand, and the portable telephone in the other hand in case I had to call 911.

I could see it was heating up, and I could smell that it was burning off some old yucky stuff; but when the cycle was done and I opened it up, most of the yucky stuff on the walls of the oven was still there.

My gut reaction is that I didn’t let it clean for long enough.

Can anyone tell me how long their oven auto-clean runs? And I guess more importantly, does it work?

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  1. My basic-model GE oven has a three hour cleaning cycle. You might check the manufacturer's website to see if it gives any guidelines for yours.

    And yes, it certainly does work and after all the baking I've done in the last three weeks, I plan to crank my oven to the cleaning cycle this evening. I'll probably have to wipe up some residue when it's finished but it's vastly preferable to spraying that nasty gunk on and kneeling in front of my oven for what seems like an eternity.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jillp

      I agree that 3 hours is the usual time-span for this cycle. During that period of time, the temperature of the oven will rise to the 600 degree level, which effectively turns grease and drippings into ash.

      If your older range is like newer ones, an electronic locking device will not allow you to open the oven door until temperatures return to a safe level. Once it has cooled off and the door is safe to open, you can wipe up the small amount of ash with wet paper towels.

      I think that this feature is fantastic. Just don't get too anxious about the amount of time necessary for it to do its job.

      Also--if you contact the manufacturer, they just may be able to send you an Owner's Manual (for a fee). Sometimes you can download a pdf file of the appropriate manual from the manufacturer's website at no charge.

    2. I do know that it usually does take a while. An hour sounds about right. In that time, the stuff will turn to charcoal dust and fall off, at which time you should be able to sweep it out somehow (after it's cooled off well, of course).

      1. Three hours is the norm for normal dirtiness.

        If you don't care about keeping your racks very shiny, you can easily clean them by keeping them in the oven during the cleaning cycle: they will be clean, but the patina will dull a bit and they will be ever so slightly less smooth on the rack supports (but I think this price is small compared to the ease of cleaning them).

        1. 3 hours. Turn on your vent fan even if it is in a seperate cook top, it will help with fumes. Don't expect to be able to open your oven or use it for about 1-2 hours after the cleaning cycle finishes. I also put in my enameled cook top grids and burner covers and the occasional really crusty cruddy cast iron pan too. I usually start mine in the evenng after dinner. It also helps that I have doors to my kitchen and dining room that I can close to help keep the odor out of the rest of the house. I also run it about every other month except in November and December where it is 1-2 times a month

          1 Reply
          1. re: MZG

            Yep, 3 hours sounds about right for my Kenmore too. Does a great job - everything gets turned to ash and you just do a quick wipe afterwards. Kind of stinks up the house a bit - turn on fans, open windows if possible. I really need to do mine too after all the cooking the past few weeks, but want to wait for a day when the weather is above freezing LOL

          2. If my oven doesn't have an auto-clean function, can I just turn it up to the highest setting and carefully watch it for a few hours?

            3 Replies
            1. re: nooodles

              I believe the highest regular oven setting (500 or so) falls a couple of hundred degrees short of the temps reached during a self-clean cycle, so it can't really reduce the burnt-on crud to a light ash.

              1. re: nooodles

                Wishful thinking .........
                However, putting a dish of ammonia in your still-warm oven, sometime when you plan to leave the room for several hours, will make getting the burned-on gunk easier to remove. I used to do this just before going to bed and firmly closed the kitchen door. The combination of heat and ammonia will exacerbate the smelly fumes but this old granny trick actually works.

                1. re: nooodles

                  The proper term is "self cleaning" as opposed to "continuous clean" which is an entirely different beast. Anyway, a self cleaning oven has a coating on the interior panels, and far more insulation than a conventional oven, so it can be brought up to a higher temperature. Don't try this at home witha conventional oven, which will not give the same results at all.

                2. I have an 8 year old Jenn Air wall convection oven. It prompts me for two hours when I set it to clean, so that's what I do. Works great. No one is more accident prone than I, and so far I have not hurt myself with it. If the oven is FILTHY, it might set off the smoke alarm, though.