If you don't like scrubbing off hardened grime from the inside of your oven, there's a self-cleaning option available on many of Maytag's ovens you may want to look for when you're purchasing a new model. This feature uses high heat to bake off residues. High heat can be hazardous, but you shouldn't have any problems if you follow the manufacturer's directions. Self-cleaning is automatic, so once you've initiated the process, it's best to make the kitchen off-limits -- especially to children and pets -- until it's complete and the oven has cooled.
How the Self-Cleaning Cycle Works
When you initiate the self-cleaning cycle, the oven door automatically locks, and a special heating element or burner raises the temperature inside the oven to 900 degrees Fahrenheit or more. The heat turns all the oils and greases that have accumulated inside the oven to ash that you can easily remove when the cycle is complete.
It's important to keep the kitchen well ventilated when the oven is cleaning, because the vapors created inside the oven need to escape and may end up wafting into other parts of the house. Because of the amount of heat involved, it's best to use the self-cleaning feature when the ambient temperature is cool. Running the cycle early in the morning, late at night or overnight, for example, is preferable to doing it in the heat of midday.
Instructions for Using the Self-Cleaning Feature
Before you begin, consult the instructions for your particular model. Although the procedure is similar for most Maytag ovens, each model has its own controls and may have precautions particular to that model. These instructions are recommended for an electric free-standing oven with electronic controls.
Step 1: Remove the Racks and Do a Pre-Cleaning
The heat generated during the self-cleaning cycle will tarnish and pit metal racks, so it's important to remove them. Wash them separately in the sink. Scrape large pieces of gristle and other food from the oven walls and floor to minimize the fumes released during the cleaning cycle. Do not leave tinfoil in the oven during the self-cleaning cycle -- the heat will vaporize it.
Step 2: Lock the Door, and Set the Controls
Close the door and lock it. Some models will lock the door automatically, so check the manual for specific instructions. Press the Self-Clean control pad. The display will show 3:00, which means the cycle will run for the default time of three hours. You can adjust this from 2:00 (mild cleaning) to 4:00 (deep cleaning) by pressing the Y or B pad. Choose Y to increase the time and B to decrease it.
Step 3: Allow the Cycle to Proceed
The oven will automatically start the cleaning cycle after you've locked the door, pressed Clean and set the cycle time. Allow at least an hour and a half after the cycle is complete for the oven to cool before you open the door. If the door has an automatic lock, and it is still locked when you try to open it, the oven is still hot. Give it more time to cool.
Step 4: Cancel the Cleaning Cycle
Press the Cancel button to stop the cleaning cycle if necessary. If the door has an automatic lock, it will remain locked until the oven has cooled. If the door has a manual lock, wait at least an hour and a half for the oven to cool before opening the door.
Step 5: Set Time Delay
If you want the cycle to start at a particular time -- for example, at 2 a.m., when everyone is asleep -- use the time delay feature. After you set the amount of time for cleaning, press the Stop Time key and use the Y and B keys to set the time of day you want the oven to turn off. Press the Clean key again, and the display will show DELAY CLEAN. The cycle will begin from two to four hours before the stop time, depending on the amount of time you selected.
Use the Self-Cleaning Option Sparingly
- The self cleaning cycle releases carbon monoxide gas.
- The cycle also releases polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) fumes, which an be fatal to pets, especially birds.
- The Teflon coating in some self-cleaning ovens doesn't stand up well to the high heat and can release fumes that can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
- The self-cleaning element in electric ovens draws more power than the cooking elements and may trip the breaker.
Other Ways to Clean Your Oven
You can always clean your self-cleaning oven with oven cleaner, but it's important to choose a product intended for self-cleaning ovens. Conventional oven cleaners leave a residue that produces toxic fumes.
Alternatively, you can use a technique recommended by another appliance pro:
Let the oven heat to 150 degrees, and then turn it off. Place a 1/2 cup of ammonia on the top shelf and a pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf, and close the door. Leave these in the oven overnight; in the morning, remove the ammonia and water. Clean the sides of the oven with hot water containing a few drops of dish-washing liquid.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.