Interior oven surfaces are coated with a catalyst, or chemical mixture which lowers the temperature at which heat will dissolve food soil. It operates while the oven is used for baking and roasting, starting at about 350 F, and is more active at higher temperatures.
Do not scratch or scrub the coating as it is easily damaged.
Prevent major spills which can form a hard glaze and destroy the chemical oxidizing action. Use large enough pans for the amount of food being cooked. Put a piece of foil or cookie sheet on the bottom rack just large enough to catch spills from food cooked on the top rack; or put heavy foil on the bottom of the oven, making sure it doesn't touch the heating element in an electric oven or cover vent holes in a gas oven. Follow instructions for your model oven in your manual for using foil. Using foil incorrectly can affect cooking results, and damage the oven.
Some soil from cooking operations is usually present. The catalyst is continually working to oxidize soil when the oven is hot enough, thus the "continuous" clean name. The rough porous surface spreads out greasy soil, thus increasing contact with hot air in the oven. Fats and oils are quickly oxidized; milk and cheese take higher temperatures (about 475 F); sugar spills are hardest to remove so protection from spills like fruit pie boil-overs is important. If large spills occur, you have to remove the spill promptly to stop the "glazing" effect which seals the surface and prevents oxidation of soil. Follow this procedure:
- Blot up excess with a paper towel or sponge while the oven is still slightly warm and the soil is soft. Do not rub a towel or sponge across surface; particles may clog the surface.
- After the oven is completely cool, spray the soil area with all-purpose spray-on/wipe-off cleaner. Work into the porous surface by scrubbing with a nylon-bristle brush or nylon net pad. Let stand 15-30 minutes.
- Scrub softened soil with the nylon brush or pad.
- Rinse thoroughly with cold water, by squeezing out a clean, wet sponge over area; then blot up (not mop up) excess water with a paper towel or sponge. (Do not let water run down into the burner assembly, especially in gas ovens.) Repeat rinsing and blotting, if needed, to remove all softened soil and cleaner residue.
- Turn on oven at 475 F and leave on for two hours. If some soil remains, the continuous-cleaning coating should work to oxidize it.
CAUTION: Spray-on/wipe-off cleaners evaporate rapidly with heat and may leave a chalky stain, which is hard to remove. So do not apply to a warm oven, and be sure to rinse away all residue.
Occasionally wipe out the whole inside of the oven with a nylon pad and plain water; blot dry and then run the oven empty for two hours at 475 F. This helps the oven catch up with accumulated grease and soil. This may be needed when the oven is used for more broiling and roasting (with more grease spatters) but short time cooking (broiling) or lower temperature (roasting), than for baking. This also helps clean the door, which usually gets less heat in cooking.
NEVER use oven cleaners on continuous-clean ovens, as they will clog the pores in the coating, and may damage the coating or the aluminum backing if it is used.
NEVER use scouring powders or any other powdered cleaners, as they will clog the coating, and the abrasive action also damages it.
NEVER use any metal pads or abrasives, as they will wear off the coating, and also metal filings may come off and clog the coating.
Manually clean oven racks.
This article has been contributed in part by Michigan State University Extension.