Years ago, manually cleaning your oven was the only way to keep your range clean. Nowadays, you have the choice between a self-cleaning or steam cleaning oven. Both types of ranges allow for automatic cleaning. Which type of range you choose depends on cooking style factors and personal preferences.
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Self-Cleaning Oven Basics
In 1963, General Electric revolutionized the world of oven ranges by introducing the GE self-cleaning oven. Termed pyrolytic cleaning ranges, self-cleaning ovens heat the residue on the inside of the oven until it carbonizes and turns to ash.
According to Allen & Petersen Cooking & Appliance Center, self-cleaning ovens feature a smooth enamel surface on the inside of the oven. This surface makes removing ash and residue easier after the range goes through the clean cycle.
Self-Cleaning Oven Pros and Cons
During cleaning, self-cleaning ovens generally heat up to 900 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit for two to four hours. This requires a great deal of energy. One self-cleaning oven danger is the fact that such ovens become very hot to the touch. This can be a safety hazard if you have young children in the house.
The smell of stuck-on food burning in the oven can also be very unpleasant. You may find yourself wondering about self-cleaning oven dangers. The fumes are toxic to birds. Anyone in the vicinity of the oven during cleaning may experience irritation of the nose and eyes.
If you've ever manually cleaned an oven, you know what a tough, dirty job it can be. Self-cleaning ovens allow you to skip the scrubbing. Even better, the self-cleaning feature allows for more thorough cleaning. Because the entire interior of the oven heats up, nooks and crannies you may not have been able to gain access to are cleaned. Once the self-cleaning is complete, you simply wipe the interior of the oven.
Steam Cleaning Oven Basics
Like self-cleaning ovens, steam cleaning ovens also use high heat. The difference is that these models use water, which creates steam. The steam helps to remove residual stuck-on food and grime. This type of oven also has an enamel coating that makes it easier for high heat and steam to break down stuck-on foods.
Steam cleaning only takes about an hour for the oven to complete the cycle. Additionally, it uses a fairly low temperature of about 250 degrees F. This means that the oven doesn't use as much energy to clean, and the exterior doesn't get hot to the touch.
Steam Cleaning Drawbacks and Benefits
While steam cleaning ranges tend to get clean on the bottom of the oven where the water collects, the sides and back of the oven may not receive a good cleaning. This means that after the steam cleaning cycle is over, you may have to scrub the sides and back of the inside of the oven to get it completely clean.
Steam cleaning is a much quicker, less smelly method of automatically cleaning your oven. Some steam cleaning ovens clean in as little as 20 to 30 minutes, which is more cost-effective than a self-cleaning oven. Because steam cleaning ovens only reach 250 degrees F during cleaning, they don't get very hot to the touch. Steam cleaning also doesn't produce any smoke or toxic fumes.
Choosing Self-Cleaning or Steam Cleaning
If you can't decide between a steam cleaning or self-cleaning oven, it's good to know there are models that feature both. That way you can choose self-cleaning when you have tough baked-on foods and steam cleaning when the oven isn't as dirty.
You may also opt to use the steam cleaning cycle when young children are in the house. That way you don't have to worry about little ones getting burned.
Julie Bawden-Davis is a widely published home and garden writer and a University of California Certified Master Gardener. She has written several gardening books, and her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Parade.com, Organic Gardening, Wildflower, Better Homes and Gardens and The Los Angeles Times. In her free time, Julie gardens in her Southern California backyard, certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a backyard habitat.