Home bakers who use the oven all the time know how hard it is to remove the accumulated food residue and gunk on the oven floor, racks, and other portions of its interior. That's why the oven's self-cleaning feature is such a blessing! But can you leave the racks inside the oven (since they can get very dirty, too) during this process? That's what we asked experts and here's what they have to say.
It is not recommended to leave the metal racks inside the oven during self-clean. The racks can expand and warp due to the extreme heat. It would also cause discoloration and damage to their special coating.
Keep on reading to know more about why you shouldn't leave your metal racks in the oven and how you can clean them instead. We'll also tell you more about your oven's self-clean feature and how long it usually takes. We also have tips on how to clean your oven glass door. This article will also answer if you can warm your kitchen by leaving your oven's front door open. Let's get started!
What if you leave the racks in during oven cleaning?
We can't avoid spills while using the oven. Eventually, food residue, grease, and grime can stick to the racks, bottom, walls, and in between the different components of the oven's interior. You may think that you've wiped off everything but that burnt smell while baking would tell you that you haven't been successful in doing so.
This is especially true when you use this kitchen appliance frequently. Food particles and residue will build up and become so hard to remove.
There are hard-to-reach areas in the oven, and let's face it, its awkward position makes this task harder as it can be back-breaking! Not to mention the awful smell of burnt food and oven cleaners that you have to endure while cleaning.
That's why the oven's self-clean feature is very convenient for those who love to use their ovens. With just a push of a button, the oven would clean itself.
But no matter how seemingly convenient and ingenious this self-clean feature is, unfortunately, there's still some form of manual cleaning to be done. Yes, sorry to inform you, but you cannot rid yourself of this chore.
Manually Clean Messy Racks
You need to clean the big messes before using this feature, then clean up the ash after self-cleaning. You also need to take out all the removable parts, including the oven racks, and manually clean them.
You might be wondering why you have to remove the racks when you would benefit a lot from including them in the self-cleaning. Here are the reasons from experts.
Since the racks are made of metal, they would expand under extreme heat and possibly damage the rack guides of the oven. They could warp under pressure, and they won't fit in the oven anymore.
The high temperatures can also cause their coating material to be damaged. This is important in making them slide smoothly in the rack guide. The oven racks would also be discolored and lose their natural shine which will make them look old and worn out.
It's best to consult your owner's manual for proper instructions regarding this. While many manufacturers recommend removing the oven racks, some say that it's perfectly okay to leave them inside during self-clean. This may be due to the composition of the materials that make up these racks and how they can stand up to extreme heat.
How to clean oven racks
If you hate cleaning, don't worry because there are products that can help you accomplish this chore with just a little effort. Among the products that you can use are:
- dishwashing soap
- laundry detergent
- baking soda plus white vinegar
- water and Bar-Keeper's Friend to make a paste
- commercial oven cleaners
The cleaning process would depend on the product that you would use. It usually involves soaking the racks in hot water to help soften the food residue and remove grease and grime. After applying the cleaning agent, you can scrub the oven racks lightly using a soft-bristled brush to remove stubborn dirt. Dry the racks using a clean microfiber cloth.
If you plan to use commercial oven cleaners, make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions for the safe application of their product as these may contain harsh ingredients that can irritate your skin or emit toxic fumes that'll make it hard for you to breathe.
How long does a self-clean oven take?
This process is called pyrolytic cleaning, which means that the oven heats up to a very high temperature, about 880 to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, to be able to turn into ash all the dirt and food residue in different parts of the oven.
This cleaning process runs for an average of three hours but it can be anywhere between 90 minutes to five hours, depending on the manufacturer's instructions and the state of your oven.
However, you also need to take note of the time that it'll take for your oven to cool down if you plan to use it right after cleaning. This would be from 30 to 90 minutes. Remember, your kitchen appliance has just been subjected to extremely high temperatures, so it'll take a while before it cools down.
While the oven is self-cleaning, it will also be automatically locked, so you won't be able to open it. This will ensure your safety. No toxic fumes and smoke can get out. Some ovens will also automatically unlock themselves once the heat dies down and it's safe to open the oven door.
Take note also that you can cancel the self-clean action anytime, especially when you suddenly have to go out of the house. It's best to turn the oven off for your safety. While this won't hurt your kitchen appliance, it might mean that your oven isn't as clean as you'd hoped it would be.
How do I clean the glass door on my self-cleaning oven?
The glass door is your gateway to see what's inside the oven and monitor how the dish is cooking. However, this would be hard to do if the glass oven door is dirty. That's why you need to ensure that it's always clean so that you'll have a clear view of what's happening inside the oven.
Aside from this, it is essential to keep your kitchen appliance clean, especially since you use them for cooking. It would also help keep your oven in good running condition and ensure that it is presentable and neat-looking all the time.
You would need to clean both sides of the glass oven door to achieve all of these things. Here's how to do it:
- Get your favorite glass cleaner. Put it in a spray bottle and apply some on the glass portion of your oven door.
- Using a clean microfiber cloth, wipe the glass in a circular motion. Make sure you're able to remove all the dirt on the surface.
- Use a degreasing cleaner if there are stubborn grease and grime.
- Use another cloth to wipe off the cleaner and polish the surface.
- Do the same steps on the other side of the glass door.
If you don't have a glass cleaner, you can use soapy water instead. An alternative for a degreaser that you can use is a paste made by mixing baking soda with some water. Just spread the paste gently on the surface.
Let it sit for a few minutes before you wipe everything off with a clean cloth. You might also find a plastic scraper useful in getting rid of sticky dirt and food residue.
Can you warm a kitchen by leaving the oven door open?
Some people have this notion of using their kitchen oven as a heater, especially when it gets exceptionally cold during the winter season.
However, take note that this isn't recommended. Ovens are intended for kitchen use, particularly for cooking purposes only. They weren't designed to become a heating device for your home.
While we understand where this idea is coming from, it would be inefficient to use your oven to warm your kitchen. You would only be wasting energy and compromising your safety. It doesn't have vents where hot air can pass through so whatever warmth it can offer is very limited.
Safety Risks of an Open Oven Door
If you leave the door open, it can pose a safety risk. Aside from possibly causing burns on your family members who happen to pass by the oven, there's also the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if you're using a gas oven.
The continuous combustion and heating process would produce this harmful gas. This is known as a silent killer. You don't see, smell, or taste it but once you inhale this gas, you can suffer from dizziness, headache, nausea, or shortness of breath. High levels of this toxic gas in indoor rooms and compartments could even cause brain damage and death.
If you're using an electric oven, there's no risk of this intoxication. However, there's the danger of overheating, which could damage your oven and possibly cause a fire. Overall, it's just not worth it to use your oven as a heating device to make your kitchen warmer.
Your oven's self-clean feature might be convenient to use but remember to remove your oven racks and other things that shouldn't be inside the oven before you start this process. This will ensure the safe use of this feature that won't damage your oven.
To read more about the proper use of ovens, feel free to visit the following links: