One of the least joyful tasks in your home is cleaning the oven. But thankfully, most modern ovens have a self-cleaning function that cleans your oven for you. However, as time-saving and convenient as self-cleaning ovens are, there are some dangers of using them that you need to be aware of.
In this article, we will discuss the main dangers and how you can mitigate the risk of them causing you and your family harm.
Before we get into the dangers, let’s quickly discuss what a self-cleaning oven is and how they work.
What Is a Self-Cleaning Oven?
The self-cleaning function in your oven works by heating up your oven to a very high temperature, which causes all of the food and liquid debris to burn up and turn into ash. Once the cycle finishes, all you have to do is wipe out the ash, and you’re good to go. It also means you don’t have to use any toxic chemicals.
The Dangers of Using a Self-Cleaning Oven
Now that we know how a self-cleaning oven works, let’s discuss some of the main dangers of using one and how you can mitigate the risks.
Even though self-cleaning ovens don’t require you to use chemicals to clean them, there will still be some bad-smelling fumes that will emanate from the oven during the cleaning cycle. These fumes are not usually very dangerous, but they will circulate around your house and cause an unpleasant smell to linger for a while. The best way to avoid this happening is to keep some windows and doors open during the cleaning cycle and, if possible, close your kitchen off to the rest of the house.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
When your oven heats up to an extremely high temperature, it will burn up all of the loose food particles in your oven, which can then lead to small amounts of carbon monoxide entering into the air in your kitchen and other areas of your home. Carbon monoxide is dangerous because it is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. The best way to mitigate the risk is to ensure that you open some doors and windows during the cleaning cycle and close the kitchen off from the rest of the house if possible.
Children and Pets
If you have young children or pets, you need to ensure they stay away from the oven while it’s running through a self-cleaning cycle. The main risks for them are touching the oven and getting a burn and breathing in dangerous substances, like carbon monoxide. There is also a small risk that the glass oven door shatters due to the high heat, but this very rarely occurs. If you have children or pets (especially birds), keep them away from the kitchen during the cleaning cycle.
During the self-cleaning cycle, your oven heats up to very high heat, which means the Teflon coating in your oven can emit toxins. As discussed above, your oven will also emit small amounts of carbon monoxide into the air.
Due to these toxic fumes emanating from your oven during the self-cleaning cycle, there is a risk that you or your family members might experience respiratory problems. This is especially an issue if you or a family member have asthma or other known respiratory problems.
To mitigate the risks of respiratory problems, make sure that you and your family stay away from the oven during the cleaning cycle and open up some doors and windows to let the toxins escape outside.
Self-cleaning ovens can also become a fire hazard if you are not careful. This is because they heat up to very high temperatures, and if you have large food debris in your oven or lots of grease, it can catch on fire.
If your oven does catch on fire, it won’t necessarily be a risk itself, as the door is locked closed, but it can cause the fuse to blow, which can then cause a fire in the control panel. To avoid fire risks, make sure you remove any large food particles and large deposits of grease before you turn your oven on to a cycle.
Safety Tips When Using a Self-Cleaning Oven
When using a self-cleaning oven, there are a few precautions you can take to lower the risks that we discussed above. Here are some of the main ones:
- Remove all pans and foil from your oven before you turn it on to a cleaning cycle.
- Cleaning your racks separately in the sink will reduce the amount of carbon monoxide that is emitted by your oven during a cleaning cycle.
- Keep your kitchen well ventilated when your oven is on a cleaning cycle. This can be done by opening doors and windows and blocking your kitchen off from the rest of the house if possible (i.e., close the kitchen door).
- Clean out any large food particles and large deposits of grease and grime before turning your oven on to a cleaning cycle. This will reduce the risk of fire and reduce toxic substances entering the air.
- Lock the oven door – most self-cleaning ovens automatically lock the door when you turn them on to a cleaning cycle, but double-check to be sure.
- Don’t leave your house when the self-cleaning oven is operating on a cleaning cycle.
- If your oven has multiple options for the length of the cleaning cycle, try to use the lowest cleaning time if possible, to reduce any of the risks outlined in this article.
- Make sure the oven has cooled down before using it again.