Death Defying Oven Cleaning
July 16, 2008 5:59 PM   Subscribe

Am I going to kill myself why attempting to clean my oven?

Hi, there's a self cleaning oven in my apartment. It hasn't been cleaned in what looks like forever. I live in a studio. There is no outdoor ventilation near the oven. Just one window in the apartment, at the opposite end. Is it going to be really fumy in here? Is it going to make all my clothes, couch, and bed stink? (remember studio, all same room) Also, I'm worried about leaving the apartment when the oven is in clean mode, but also worried about fuming myself to death by staying here. Any advice? There were specific instructions in the oven manual about not cleaning it with traditional methods. Is that just BS though?
posted by zackola to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Best answer: It will create a very noticeable odor because it's baking everything inside for many hours at 900 degrees until it's all turned to ash. The smell won't kill you but it will be pretty hard to bear. If you think about what it would smell like if you took all your food and threw it into a bonfire, that's essentially what's going on. It shouldn't stink up your clothes, couch, and bed but you may want to open the door and window and hang out nearby for the afternoon.

Just grab a few books, magazines, and an iPod and hang out outside your studio door for a few hours until it's all done. If you have a fan or fans, position them near the oven to blow the fumes towards the door.

There were specific instructions in the oven manual about not cleaning it with traditional methods.
If it says specifically not to do it, then don't.
posted by junesix at 6:14 PM on July 16, 2008

There are cans of oven cleaner that claim to be safe for self-cleaning ovens, so you can look into that anyways. However, the "fume-free" oven cleaner is still very noxious and stinky and you have to wipe it out and be very careful with gloves and stuff.

The main reason I hesitate to use the self-cleaning feature is because I always move apts in the summer and it gets SO FRICKIN' HOT, so fumes aren't the main issue for me. Just turn the vent on over the stove, and maybe direct a fan out from the kitchen. Also, using my apartment stove at high temps (like 500°F for pizza) often sets off my smoke detector, so be wary of that especially if you are burning off a lot of crap.
posted by sararah at 6:26 PM on July 16, 2008

Best answer: The fumes aren't as bad as the oven cleaners - it just smells like burnt cheese (well, in my oven, that is usually what it is. But it's nothing chemical so even if it is unpleasant, it won't kill you or even scar your lungs.
posted by metahawk at 6:49 PM on July 16, 2008

You don't have to actually "clean" it if you don't want to. Just scrape off any really obvious chunky stuff and wipe it up. Anything else is just cosmetic.
posted by amyms at 7:24 PM on July 16, 2008

Cleaning your oven on self-clean mode is one of the most satisfying household chores. Literally no work on your part, and you will be shocked at how clean your oven is. You'll never want to clean an oven the old way ever again. I'm sure your manual mentions this, but you may want to remove the racks. Some older ones will get discolored if they're left in there.

It will smoke and smell but won't hurt you at all.
posted by peep at 8:10 PM on July 16, 2008

You may want to deactivate the smoke detector in your apartment. (Don't forget to reactive it when it's all over.)
posted by Class Goat at 10:26 PM on July 16, 2008

What? It will smell gross for a while - and any particularly odor-trapping (bedclothes, curtains, etc) textiles will stink, but it will be fine. Take your sheets and curtains down and put them in the closet or in the laundry while the heavy-duty stuff is happening. Scrape big lumps off the oven (they'll probably be brittle, easily-removeable chunks anyway). Turn on. Yay.
posted by peachfuzz at 11:10 PM on July 16, 2008

It won't hurt you, though it sometime makes me cough. This is a good time to wash all your bedding and get it out of the apt. There is usually an industrial burnt smell that is mildly unpleasant. To get rid of the smell, I usually put some cloves, cinnamon, and other nice spices in some water, and simmer them. Really spicy tea, or wine-mulling spices work well, too.
posted by theora55 at 7:08 AM on July 17, 2008

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