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Probably stupid question about self-cleaning ovens

I'm embarrassed to ask this, but here goes . . .

My mother bought a new range with a self-cleaning oven back in the 1970s. She declared that she would never use the self-cleaning feature because she had heard that it will make the oven so hot that the inside coating will crack. I never took any of my mother's appliance and technology urban legends (there were lots more) seriously, so I just thought it was silly to have such a convenient feature and not use it.

I bought my first range with a self-cleaning oven about two years ago. When my parents saw it the first time, my mother repeated her belief that the feature was too dangerous to use. I would have just shrugged it off, but my father, my rational and scientific parent, agreed!

So, I ask the CH's, has anyone ever heard of a self-cleaning oven cracking during cleaning?

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  1. I haven't. Mine has survived just fine :)

    1. I believe the manual that comes with your oven may say that hairline cracks may develop, and that they aren't dangerous. When it is cooling down, you might hear what sounds like crackling, but I don't ever see any cracks. It's a wonderful feature. Make sure you read the directions. Take the racks out, they'll get discolored if left in the oven. Wipe up any big spills on the bottom before starting it up.
      Now for a fun story. My brother is a cleaning nut. When the kids were little, eating at their little table and chair set, he'd be on the floor, wiping up the spills while they were eating! One Thanksgiving he saw my sister in law take the turkey and sides out of the oven, and he went right over to it, flipped the switch to start the self cleaning. They leave the racks in, apparently. Well, the rolls were STILL in the oven!!! He couldn't open the door, because the safety lock had already engaged, since the oven was already heated. Whoa! So when the process was done, and they opened the oven, all that was left of the rolls were cinders!

      1. Sometimes people have crazy ideas no matter how much they conflict with logic. If, in fact, self-cleaning ovens caused the damage your mother suggests, wouldn't all of the ovens with the self-cleaning feature be returned to the store and then make it a huge problem for the manufacturers?

        The only problem we have had is if we wait too long between using the self-cleaning cycle and the oven starts to leak a little smoke. Go ahead and use the self-cleaning feature and invite your parents over to witness it.

        1. <my mother repeated her belief that the feature was too dangerous to use. I would have just shrugged it off, but my father, my rational and scientific parent, agreed!>

          It depends on what you mean by dangerous. During the self cleaning cycle, the oven does get very hot. You may burn yourself if somehow you open the oven door and touch something inside (though most have a door lock during the self cleaning mode). Even the exterior surface of the oven can be fairly hot. Needless to say, the oven remain quit hot even after the self cleaning mode. Thus, the self cleaning mode is dangerous in this sense.

          Now, the self cleaning oven would NOT be so hot to crack the coating. I have used the self cleaning oven mode many times for seasoning/reseasoning my cast iron cookware. I have never crack anything.

          Now, what is true and common inconvenienc is that the self cleaning mode can make the oven racks dull and rough:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/684567

          1 Reply
          1. It scares me half to death every I have ever turned on the self cleaning oven. It gets so hot I worry it will burn the house down .i don't like it I don't like it, I don't like it.....

            2 Replies
            1. re: miss_belle

              Self cleaning ovens are safe. Let's get real, in this litigious society what company will knowingly sell a dangerous product?

              I used my self cleaning oven feature a lot with no ill effects. No, my kitchen did not burn down. No, it did not burn me. No, it did not crack anything. It worked as it should but, it would heat up the kitchen a little which was nice in winter and not so nice in summer.

              1. re: Sid Post

                Yes. I know all that ok. I just still don't feel comfortable with it on. To each his/her own...

            2. I have had self-cleaning ovens for over 20 years, and all my friends and neighbors have them, and have never even heard of the surface cracking. I did however have my glass flat-surface cooktop crack when I put a hot steamy wet lid on it that set up an instant suction---the surface cracked diagonally all the way across and we had to replace the cooktop. Place a hot lid along the edge so some air gets up under it.

              So, you've had your self-cleaning oven for two years. Has it cracked? Why are you worrying now all of a sudden?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Querencia

                Well, the reason I haven't inquired before now is because I haven't gotten around to cleaning it. Yes, I know that's dereliction of cleaning duties, nolo contendere.

              2. Thanks, everyone, I shall go ahead and use the feature this weekend with absolute confidence. Perhaps my father felt that occasional acquiescence to my mother's bizarro fears is a small price for marital harmony.

                4 Replies
                1. re: MrsBridges

                  I saw a recent Angie's List report that said many appliance repairmen don't recommend the self cleaning cycle because the high temperature is hard on the electronics.

                  1. re: Samalicious

                    And I've read that you shouldn't use the cleaning cycle just before you downshift for a major holiday meal prep.

                    1. re: Samalicious

                      Mine tripped the oven circuit breaker. Wall oven. The repairman had to pull the oven to reset it as it was located in the back. I called service because it was under warranty. He stated that they do this sometimes. Not always, but sometimes. For the record, it is a Frigidaire.

                    2. re: MrsBridges

                      Your father is a wise man. He probably was winking at you while giving you the answer, but you thought he has sand in his eye.

                    3. I have had one for 35 years and have never had a problem. I would't think of buying one that didn't have that option. Actually have had four,two in MI and two in FL.

                      1. I too, am very concerned of the high heat the self-cleaning puts out. I have a GE range. I purchased in April. Live in FL. Have been waiting for some cool weather to use it. The GE repairman told me this model goes up to 700-800 degrees and cost about $30 in electricity to use in our area. He says just wipe it out, but there is no way you can just wipe out grease.

                        1. I haven't cleaned an oven, except to push the start button, in recent memory. The self clean is there to use. I turn my oven on clean and go to bed and it's done in the morning, Same idea with a dishwasher. I don't prewash my dishes before putting in the dishwasher and people get freaked out, but the dishwasher gets to wash them, not me.

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: Floridagirl

                              I don't know that I would go to bed with the oven on a cleaning cycle. We dot it just after our evening meal so the it is done before bedtime. I certainly would never put clothes in the dryer and then go to bed. My brother's neighbors house burned down that way. My father's dryer once malfunctioned and ran on high for 23-1/2 days. Fortunately, his dryer vent pipe was metal and not plastic. Do you know how much lint a dryer full of towels throws off after three continuous weeks in a running dryer?

                            2. Have only used self-clean function on my gas stove a handful of times... NO problems. Think a few times were to clean up some nice cast iron stuff I found!?! If there have been any decent sized spill-overs... I'd scrape out as much as possible ahead of time. Self-clean is NOT something ya wanna do in AUGUST... throws off a decent amount of heat and would just make your AC wrok HARDER.

                              1. Okay I admit, I am a guy who is very redneck. I am a welder who is also a robot editor who went to college for industrial electronics. I have done many terrible things with appliances (cross used) uhm things a smart person probably would not do. With this disclaimer,,,

                                I love self cleaning ovens!

                                I have used my own for cleaning pans, (and not just cast iron). (but beware teflon,,,teflon can emit poisonous gas).

                                I have used my self cleaning oven for cleaning car parts, cooking utensils, and when I make sticky sugar things (caramel rolls, pecan rolls, sticky buns) I like to use metal cookware cast iron is best as newer stuff can be alloys which a person can not know and some could be poisonous.

                                But I admit I have learned not all self cleaning ovens are equal, some also have vents,,some have gaskets which do not wrap all the way around the door (mine at home is older and does)

                                Knowing your stove seems the most important thing, and with care I think self cleaning just to clean the oven should be fine (but model to model some are junk some are not).

                                I would give it a go, pick a time your home for 8 hours just in case and keep a eye on it, and yes for the first time I would pull the grates out and set them aside, and I do not like a mess in mine anyway but a puddle of anything will likely start on fire. I also would make sure anyone with asthma is out (this sets my mother off). These ovens I think range from 700 to 1200 degrees, so anything in them will burn, will start on fire,, (mild steel melts at 2700 whereas solder is 640, about,,, so any former food will likely be turned to ash,,,(so do not get upset if you have a window in the door and see a fire inside the oven I think most have slides to cover the window as this scares people the latches are supposed to lock until its safe to open (the temp comes down )

                                I would not recommend using a self cleaning oven to do anything but clean itself, but if you google it ,,people do some strange things,, and its entertaining!

                                I also have seen ovens where people used cleaners,,,that after years of liquid cleaners,,and never being used,,the self cleaning will smoke you straight out of the house!

                                I have never had a self cleaning oven crack on me,, but have had the gaskets fail and smoke pour out,,, and my eyes burn from the smell... (try to pick a time no one is around and ya can open every window,, have fans,, and the hood on high vented to outside... and watch your pets,,, (teflon even cooking with can kill birds in the house ,,)

                                Good luck!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jstavene

                                  THANK YOU! I just KNEW I couldn't be the only one with the smoke problems!

                                2. Unfortunately there is an issue with some ovens with blue interiors that are cracking, chipping and pitting. One thing that seems to be associated with this is the self clean. This may start as fine crazing of the surface but with even regular heating and cooling the edges begin to wear on each other and the crazing turns to cracking. This c of ovens an result in glass shards around your foods. It has also been reported on other colors but not like the blue. I personally have had three different brands of oven with blue interiors fail in this way.
                                  Through the 40+ years of cooking and multiplicity of ovens I have had,I have never had this kind of trouble.

                                  1. Quite a lot of people do die from kitchen fires but by far the most common cause is burning food on top of the stove. The safest thing to do is take that burning food and put it in the oven and close the door. It is pretty much axiomatic that your oven (self-cleaning or not) can handle burning food safely. (BTW the food fire will go out quickly because all the oxygen in the oven gets used up quickly).

                                    1. Well at my house my mother is ALWAYS using it! then it starts smoking so bad it burns my throat, lungs and eyes! Then FIRES start inside!!!!! My mom just lets it go and I have to suffer burning eyes, throat and lungs!