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7 Easy Steps On How To Clean A Self-Clean Oven Efficiently

Learning how to clean a self-clean oven is important to keep it working properly for years. Did you know, contrary to what many people think, a self-cleaning oven doesn’t clean itself thoroughly?

A woman in pink gloves cleaning an oven.
Photo credit: Deposit Photos.

Yes, it has a self-clean function, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to do a little scrubbing, too. Even self-clean ovens still need some TLC from time to time. But don’t worry, cleaning it isn’t as complex as you might think.

I’ll show you how to clean your oven well without too much effort. You’ll prolong your self-cleaning oven’s lifespan and preserve its optimal performance with this easy step-by-step guide.

How To Clean a Self-Clean Oven in 7 Steps

The first thing is first. The term “self-cleaning oven” can be misleading. Yes, it does turn small particles into ash, but you will still need to clean it manually once in a while.

I learned this the hard way when I bought my first self-cleaning oven. I thought that because it “cleans itself” on its own, I only needed to clean the countertops in the kitchen, and everything was good to go. Don’t be like me! The inside of the oven will soon begin to resemble a coal mine if you don’t clean it periodically.

But don’t worry, cleaning will be a breeze if you know where to start. Here’s how to clean a self-clean oven:

Step 1: Remove Loose Items From The Oven

Loose items like oven accessories, baking sheets, and last night’s lasagna dish you didn’t want to wash can negatively affect the self-cleaning process. So, first remove all foreign objects from inside the oven. Check every corner of your oven as dark pans like cast iron get easily hidden in the shadows.

Step 2: Clean Up Any Spilled Food

Food bits from your last dinner entree or other baked goods can also cause damage to your self-clean range over time. That said, it’s a good idea to remove them too. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Pick up the food bits in your oven.
  2. Once these items are removed, wipe anything with a damp cloth. This prevents smoke during the cleaning cycle. Make sure that all food residue on the oven is wiped out. 
  3. Wipe down any visible residue in your oven.
  4. Take the time to inspect the oven’s seals and gaskets for any signs of wear or damage. If you notice any cracks or gaps, these should be addressed immediately to maintain the oven’s heat retention and energy efficiency. 
  5. Then, clean your oven’s exterior. This includes the control panel and handles to prevent the accumulation of grease and grime, which can become stubborn stains if left unattended.
  6. Once everything is clear from food bits, you are now ready to run the self-clean cycle of the device.
A person is turning a knob on an oven.
Photo credit: Deposit Photos.

Step 3: Let The Self-Clean Cycle Run

You are here because your self-clean oven has a self-clean feature. This is a convenient way to clean the appliance thoroughly. Here’s how you can make the most out of it:

  1. Make sure to close the door to get the best results from the cleaning process.
  2. Once you know that everything is clean and free from food bits, running the self-clean cycle is the next step.
  3. Wait until the clean time finishes before opening the doors of your appliance.

It would help to open your kitchen windows to minimize odors and smoke inside the kitchen. I once forgot about this, and it nearly set off our smoke alarm, so make sure to open the kitchen windows, too. It is better to be safe even when cleaning your kitchen appliances.

Step 4: Gently Wash Wire Racks

It’s important to clean the wire racks every time you clean the oven. Doing so will prevent warping and discoloration. Additionally, this ensures that no debris will get into your baked goods once you start using your oven again. For this part, here’s what you can do while the self-cleaning mode is active.

  1. Use soap and let the warm running water flow through the racks.
  2. If stubborn dirt or heavy residue remains on the racks, use a scrub sponge to clean it thoroughly. If the racks are still dirty, you can soak them overnight to remove gunk and grime. Cleaning the racks is a preparation for a clean oven once self-cleaning is done.
  3. After rinsing the soapy water off the racks, let them dry and prepare them to put back after cleaning.
A clean stainless steel oven with a door open.
Photo credit: Deposit Photos.

Step 5: Let The Cycle Finish and Oven Cool Down

If your oven has a self-cleaning feature, its doors will automatically lock once you start the self-cleaning cycle. Most models show a lock icon on the front oven control board. Once the oven is cooled down, the doors will unlock. Remember that you can cancel the cycle anytime. However, the oven stays locked until it is cooled down. 

You will know if the cycle is complete because a prompt indicates there that the cleaning process has ended. You are ready to replace the wire racks during this time, and your oven is ready to use. I like to organize the kitchen and declutter the space while waiting for the cycle to complete. This makes me more productive.

Step 6: Clean Any Debris Inside The Oven

Now that your oven is completely cooled down, you can remove debris from the oven interior. This ensures that your appliance is thoroughly clean. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Use a damp cloth to remove leftover ash inside of your oven.
  2. Gently wipe any dirt that is left after the cleaning cycle.
  3. Make sure that the bottom of the oven is free of any debris.
  4. Use mild cleaners if you need to scrub the inner oven cavity. You can use dish soap and water or vinegar diluted in water. Follow your user manual for suggested gentle cleaners for this procedure. 
A person in yellow gloves cleaning an oven with a spray cleaner.
Photo credit: Deposit Photos.

Step 7: Return Wire Racks and Clean The Glass

Finally, your appliance is now clean. Return the wire oven racks and gently clean the glass on the oven door. When cleaning the glass, use a glass cleaner and a microfiber or soft dry cloth. These items will help you get a streak-free finish. Check that everything is in place and all areas are clean.

When you return the wire racks, ensure you have already washed them. If they are still dirty, you need to clean them again.

How Frequently Can Self-Clean Ovens Be Used?

How frequently you clean your oven varies. If you cook frequently, I suggest cleaning the appliance more often. If not, then cleaning it once every three months is enough.

Make sure to refer to your user’s manual when it comes to cleaning your oven. If you have a Samsung oven, for example, it’s best to search for the user manual on how to self-clean a Samsung oven. Generally, all brands will have the same basic cleaning methods.

Can You Use Oven Cleaner On A Self-Cleaning Oven?

Use mild, non-abrasive cleaners like dish soap. Using white vinegar diluted with water along with baking soda paste is another great way to clean without harsh chemicals.

Some commercial oven cleaners may cause harm. Read the product label carefully before using it. These cleaners can release fumes even after you have finished cleaning your appliance.

Safety should be a priority when it comes to cleaning your oven. If you use commercial cleaners, consult your user’s manual to be safe.  

Final Thoughts

I hope this guide helps you better understand how to clean a self-clean oven. The self-cleaning function is a great feature that takes much of the elbow grease out of kitchen maintenance.

However, while the self-cleaning oven does a lot of the heavy lifting, you still need to manage it so the clean mode operates efficiently and safely. By following the steps outlined in this post, you’ll have the best way to leverage this convenient feature and keep a well-maintained oven for years to come. Next time your oven needs cleaning, I’m sure you can confidently use the self-cleaning function.

A woman in pink gloves cleaning an oven.
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How To Clean A Self-Clean Oven

The term “self-cleaning oven” can be misleading. Yes, it does turn small particles to ash, but you will still need to clean it once in a while. Here's how.
Active Time30 minutes
Self-Clean Cycle2 hours
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Cleaning
Keyword: how to clean self-clean oven
Yield: 1 clean oven
Author: Jessica Haggard
Cost: $1


  • 1 Pair of rubber gloves
  • 1 Microfiber cloth


  • 1 bottle spray cleaner for ovens


  • Remove loose items from the oven.
  • Clean up any spilled food.
  • Let the self-clean cycle run.
  • Gently wash the wire racks.
  • Let the oven cool after the cycle finishes.
  • Clean any debris inside the oven.
  • Return wire racks and clean the glass.


Use the spray cleaner to clean the outside of the oven as well.
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Thursday 1st of February 2024

My husband loves to cook but he is SO messy. I had been afraid to see how bad our oven has gotten and kept putting off cleaning it, but this made it sound really doable. Yesterday I finally tackled it and now our oven looks brand new!

Easy Homemade Life

Thursday 15th of February 2024

So nice to bake with a clean oven! Thanks for the comment, Tommie.