What Causes That Bad Self-Cleaning Oven Smell?

oven self cleaning

Have you ever used the self-cleaning feature on your oven? If you have, you probably noticed that, while effective, it smelled bad.

Typically, a self-cleaning oven uses high heat to separate food molecules and turn them to ash that can be easily wiped away, although a few types use steam and lower heat instead. This feature can save you time and energy when dealing with tough oven messes, but at what cost?

We'll help you better understand how a self-cleaning oven works and, more importantly, why it smells so bad even when it's working just fine.

wiping the oven

Why Does My Self-Cleaning Oven Smell?

The bad smell that results from using the self-cleaning function is created because it essentially burns away bits of stuck-on grease and food. If you've ever burned food while cooking, you know this isn't the most pleasant smell in the world. The smell can often come from oven rack material that isn't meant to be exposed to extreme heat.

Despite its potency, the smell isn't dangerous. While the fumes from self-cleaning ovens can harm some tropical birds, they are not harmful to humans, despite popular belief.

self cleaning oven

How Does a Self-Cleaning Oven Work

A self-cleaning oven from a brand like Frigidaire or Samsung uses extremely high heat (between 427-538°C) to separate the food molecules and turn them into ash. Put more simply, the oven heats up to a temperature that burns away all the grease, grime, and food bits stuck inside it.

How to Use a Self-Cleaning Oven

To use the self-cleaning function on your oven, you simply press the self-cleaning button and lock the oven door. However, there are best practices that you should follow when using the self-cleaning function.

The most important thing you can do when running the self-cleaning function is to ventilate your home. Open all the windows and turn on your ceiling fans. Doing so will help blow some of the smoke and foul smells generated from the self-cleaning cycle out of your home. Additionally, you can run the vent fan above your stove to suck up some of the gases released by the self-cleaning function.

Self-cleaning ovens also release CO, more commonly referred to as carbon monoxide. While it doesn't release it at high levels (not enough to be harmful), it's always a good idea to ensure your carbon monoxide detector works before running the self-cleaning cycle.

self cleaning

How to Reduce the Self-Cleaning Oven Smell

Don't let that self-cleaning oven smell get in the way of keeping your Samsung or Frigidaire oven sparkling clean! There are plenty of ways to reduce the potency of self-cleaning oven smells.

Though it takes a little more work than just pressing a button, removing the racks and cleaning them by hand can greatly minimize the bad smell your oven gives off. Most oven racks have a coating that can withstand standard cooking temperatures but not self-cleaning setting temperatures. This coating smells awful when it burns away in your oven.

You should also wipe away any visible debris in your oven before turning on the self-cleaning setting. The amount of debris in your oven directly correlates to the intensity of that signature burning smell.

Try these other tips for keeping your oven clean between deep-cleaning sessions:

  • Always wipe up oven spills immediately with mild soap and water. Use a paste of baking soda and water for sticky spills.
  • Before wiping down your oven, place a glass container of water inside and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Turn the oven off as the steam loosens debris. Once cool, wipe the interior of the oven.
  • When baking items on the rack, line the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil or a silicone oven liner.
  • Cover food in the oven whenever practical.
  • When roasting meats and vegetables with lots of fat, use roasting bags. Alternatively, put a cookie sheet on the lower rack to catch drips.
  • If your oven's thermometer, or any other component, is broken or inconsistent, contact your local Mr. Appliance to fix it. This way, you can avoid burning food or excessive grease splatter inside the oven.
  • Make sure everyone in the family knows about these guidelines!

FAQ About Self-Cleaning Ovens

Is it safe to stay in the house during the oven's self-cleaning?

Yes, staying in your home while the oven is running its self-cleaning function is completely safe. It's best to make sure your home is properly ventilated to prevent gases and unpleasant smells from accumulating indoors.

In many ways, it's best to stay in your home while the self-cleaning function runs. If, for any reason, there is a malfunction, being home allows you to address it quickly. You wouldn’t leave your oven on while you’re out; the same should apply when running the self-cleaning cycle on your oven.

However, if your home lacks proper ventilation, it might be best to clean your oven the old-fashioned way, by hand.

How can I get rid of the smell after my self-cleaning oven is done?

The smell of a self-cleaning oven will linger for a few hours at minimum. However, you can minimize the potency of the smell and how long it lasts through a combination of ventilation and covering it up.

First, you should ventilate your home during the entire self-clean cycle to reduce the likelihood of smells staying in your home. Once the cycle is done, you can turn off the vent fan, but you should keep the windows open.

While this technically doesn't eliminate the smell, lighting a scented candle or spraying some air freshener can help cover up the unpleasant smell of the self-cleaning cycle. By the time you're done using the candle or the air freshener wears off, the smell should be greatly diminished.

Something Wrong with Your Oven? Call Mr. Appliance® for Help!

The reality is, when you use your self-cleaning oven function, it’s going to smell. It's an inevitable consequence of the self-cleaning function. But if you notice that your oven doesn't work the same after running the self-cleaning cycle or if it fails to run the cycle altogether, there could be an issue with the oven itself. Even high-quality brands like Samsung or Frigidaire can experience issues over time.

If your oven shows signs of wear and tear or just needs professional care, the appliance repair experts at Mr. Appliance can help! Reach out to your local Mr. Appliance or schedule an appointment online today!