Self-cleaning ovens feature a design element that lets you flip a switch and clean the oven within a short time frame. A locking mechanism or switch on the front of the oven keeps the fumes inside the oven and away from your nose. During the cleaning process, and when you first open the oven, you may notice a slight fume, but this is not generally dangerous.
Cleaning the Oven
Locate the cleaning switch on your oven. Depending on the manufacturer, the oven should either have a separate switch or a cleaning cycle on the oven temperature knob. Close the door tightly, lock the oven if your model has a locking mechanism and set the self-cleaning feature. You'll want to open the doors and windows in the kitchen to provide fresh air to the space. For at least two hours or until the oven finishes the self-cleaning cycle you'll need to leave the room. After the cycle is complete, open the oven door and wipe down the inside with a dry cloth, removing any excess residue.
During the self-cleaning process, your oven might release carbon monoxide into the environment. The gas has no taste or smell and is practically undetectable to humans. When you inhale carbon monoxide fumes, you may become sick. Inhaling the fumes over a longer period may result in carbon monoxide poisoning, which leads to death in humans and animals. Carbon monoxide typically comes from gas-powered stoves.
For heavy buildup or debris inside your oven, hand cleaning might be necessary. Hand cleaning the inside of your oven with an oven cleaner comes with different potential hazards. The fumes released by the oven cleaner may aggravate asthma symptoms or those with a sensitive nose. You must also clean the oven thoroughly, removing all traces of the oven cleaner before ever using the self-cleaning feature. The chemicals left behind create worse fumes during the cleaning process and can potentially cause a fire.
When using the self-cleaning feature on your oven, remove any animals from the room, especially birds. The fumes produced by the oven are potentially fatal to birds and may make other animals sick. The Orange County Register documents a story from a bird owner who lost one of her pets to fumes from the oven, even after leaving the doors and windows of her kitchen open. Keep your pets safe, and prevent any problems by removing the animals from the room.