Clean but Smelly: Why Do Self-Cleaning Ovens Smell So Bad?

Person pulling metal grate out of an oven
Ever used your self-cleaning oven feature? The consensus is that it smells. Bad. 

Typically, a self-cleaning oven works by using 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 help save you time and energy when dealing with tough oven messes, but at what cost?

What Causes Self-Cleaning Oven Smell?

Self-cleaning ovens smell bad because of stuck-on grease and food and, in many cases, oven rack material that isn’t meant to be exposed to extreme heat. However, the smell isn’t dangerous. Although the fumes from self-cleaning ovens can be harmful to some tropical birds, they are not harmful to humans, despite popular belief.

How to Reduce the Self-Cleaning Oven Smell

Don’t let that self-cleaning oven smell get in the way of keeping your oven sparkling clean!

Thankfully, the bad smell from your self-cleaning oven can be reduced if you remove the racks and clean them by hand, leaving them out of the oven while you run the self-cleaning cycle. Remove any visible debris beforehand too.

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 dish of water inside, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the oven off as the steam loosens debris. Once cool, wipe the interior of the oven.
  • When baking items right 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 another part is broken or inconsistent, contact your local Mr. Appliance to fix it. This way, you can avoid burning food or splattering excessive grease inside your oven.
  • Make sure everyone in the family knows about these guidelines!

Oven Maintenance

Cleaning your oven—as well as your dishwasher, fridge, and other major appliances—is an important part of maintenance. It helps your appliances run more efficiently and stay in good working order.

Is your oven showing signs of breaking? Turn to our trusted professionals. Reach out to your local Mr. Appliance or schedule an appointment online today.