The "Self-Cleaning" Kitchen? | National Apartment Association

The "Self-Cleaning" Kitchen?

My favorite season is here: Holiday Cooking Season!

Many residents will begin to ponder recipes that go along with their various family gatherings and functions. This is a fantastic time of year to suggest to residents they use the self-clean function in the oven to be ready for holiday baking.

The way that a Self-Cleaning oven works is a mystery to many residents. More than a few times I’ve responded to a resident’s call that they can’t open their oven door, or smells and smoke are coming out of the oven and they can’t turn the oven off.

(The most exciting one was for the newlywed couple that was cooking for their in-laws for the first time. They woke up Thanksgiving morning and decided that they wanted to put ol’ Tom Turkey in a clean oven. I received the call at noon when the oven door wouldn’t open, even with the use of a crow bar, and the dinner was ruined because the turkey couldn’t start cooking on time. We let the residents use the oven in the model to cook their dinner, and they paid for a replacement stove as they broke the one in the apartment.)

A Self-cleaning oven works because of a pyrolytic coating on the walls that at high temperatures releases any food and stains so that it can burn to carbon. This means that at the end of the cycle, the resident will need to wipe out any ash that remains.

(In other words, the same way a dish washer doesn’t exactly “wash” dishes, a self-cleaning oven isn’t exactly “Self” cleaning….)

If your community has a baking appliance that include this function, there are several items that we and they need to be aware of. Here are some tips and information that can help:

  • This process will take several HOURS, and produce some smells and possibly even smoke. A reminder to residents of this occurrence and the need to let the office know before they start the cleaning cycle is recommended. (This can help if the smoke alarm goes off.)
  • Offer a box fan to residents to help draw the fumes directly out an opened window as a service.
  • Everything in the oven and storage drawer under the oven should be removed. This includes the racks, and any “pizza stone” or baking helper.
  • An abrasive or aggressive oven cleaner will damage or even destroy the coating inside the oven. These should NEVER be used in an oven with this feature. (As a matter of fact, just one use can cause irreparable harm to the pyrolytic coating. Is your cleaner aware that they should not use these chemicals in the oven when turning the apartment?)
  • Before starting the cycle remove any large crumbs or “chunks” of baked on food by using non-scratching methods. This can be done with the use of a plastic spatula or plastic putty knife and warm water. The more of this debris that is removed beforehand, the less smoke/smells there will be.
  • Start the cycle and let it go. It will take several hours and the oven will be unusable for the duration.
  • Once completed, a damp sponge or soft cloth will remove any ash or soot found in the bottom of the oven. This is the final step in the self-cleaning process. If skipped, the oven is not truly clean.

Move in is a fantastic time to teach this to a new resident. After the leasing paperwork is completed, a Technician can meet them at their new apartment and give them a “maintenance tour” to answer any questions. In addition to the self-cleaning cycle in the oven, they can be shown the switch on the wall that isn’t broken; it operates the receptacle in the living room.

The technician can also inform the resident not to use sink soap in the dishwasher as this apartment is not equipped a self-cleaning kitchen… (Or the apartment downstairs that the sudsy water leaks into.)

Happy Holiday preparations!