Why You Should Remove Oven Racks Before Self Cleaning

13 Mar, 2015

Family in a kitchen with oven
Have you started spring cleaning in your kitchen yet? Electrolux has shared expert tips on why it’s important to remove your oven racks before using the self-cleaning feature on your oven.

When you use it regularly, the self-cleaning feature keeps the inside of your oven free of hardened grease and gristle with a minimum of effort on your part, but you must follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. An important recommendation is to remove the oven racks before self-cleaning – here’s why you shouldn’t leave those racks in during the self-cleaning process:

1. Racks may discolor

When you start your oven’s normal self-cleaning feature, the temperature rises to 800 degrees Fahrenheit or more, which is more than double the temperature you normally need to cook food. Exposed to the high temperature, the residue on the sides and door of the oven quickly oxidizes, turns to ash and falls to the bottom. If you leave your non-self-clean racks in the oven, they may discolor. It’s the same discoloration that happens on the end of a metal skewer when you roast a marshmallow over a campfire. This doesn’t happen to porcelain-coated racks, because the heat-resistant porcelain protects the metal.

Some ovens come equipped with a Steam Clean feature to remove light soils. During the 20-minute cycle, during which steam circulates inside the oven, the temperature rises to only 170 degrees Fahrenheit. This cycle won’t discolor the oven racks, although it will leave them wet; you should wipe them dry after the cycle is over.

2. A dull finish is harder to clean

The dulling of the finish on your metal racks not only affects their appearance, it also makes them more difficult to clean. Whereas food that has collected on racks in good condition comes off with hot water and soap, you may have to actually scrape off food from racks dulled by the heat from the self-cleaning cycle. Scraping and scouring the racks further degrades the finish. Eventually, you may find it next to impossible to thoroughly clean the racks, and you may end up having to replace them. If you have metal glide racks, you may find it especially difficult to clean the glide mechanisms.

3. The racks won’t slide as easily

Unless you have gliding racks, your racks rest on tracks built into the sides of the oven, and when the metal finish has degraded, they are harder to maneuver. This can lead to problems when you have to remove something from a hot oven — one side of the rack could stick, and you could end up spilling your food. Friction can also make gliding racks more difficult to operate, partly because they are more difficult to clean. Although it’s safe to leave ceramic and porcelain-coated racks in the oven during cleaning, they may also stick if you don’t manually clean residue off of them after the cycle is completed.

Lubricating damaged racks

The best way to prevent damage to your metal oven racks is to remove them before the self-cleaning cycle and wash them in the sink. If you forget, you can’t bring back the finish, but you can lubricate them so they slide more easily. A good way to do this is to rub the parts that rest on the tracks inside the oven with wax paper. If they have caked-on residue, wipe that off with very fine steel wool, but keep the steel wool saturated with soap to prevent scratching. Once the racks are clean, rub them down with salad oil. You should also lubricate porcelain and ceramic racks left in the oven during the cleaning cycle to keep them sliding smoothly.

Discover even more tips on cleaning your major appliances, including your dishwasher, washing machine and fridge!

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