The Quick Guide To Using a GE Self-Cleaning Oven

July 19, 2023
Oven Repair

The self-cleaning function on your GE oven may sound like a life-saver—after all, who likes cleaning an oven? But how does it work, and how do you actually use it? Our guide walks you through all the steps, including safety considerations, settings, and more.

This guide refers to all main models of GE Ovens, including: 4132990, 42069, 4242590, 4252990, 4352590, ABS300J1WW, BP76GS1, CGS980SEM1SS, JB250DF1WW, JBP23DN1WW, JBP24BB4WH, JBP24WB4WW, JBP26GV3, JBP26WB4WW, JBP64BB4WH, JBS55DM2WW, JGBS66REK1SS, JGP329SET1SS, JGP336BEV2BB, JGP336WEV4WW, and JGP633SET1SS.

How do self-cleaning ovens work, anyway?

It sounds too good to be true—how does an oven clean itself? It’s actually quite a simple operation. It works through a process called pyrolytic cleaning, which uses very high temperatures to break down any residue in the oven. 

Generally, temperatures reach about 880 degrees Fahrenheit during this process, which is far, far higher than usual oven temperatures. It remains at this temperature for a period of time and then is left to cool down. Once the oven cools down, the debris will have turned into a fine ash, which can then be wiped away with a damp cloth. 

Before you begin

There are a couple of things to do before you start your self-cleaning cycle. First, you need to get any trays or racks out of your oven before you begin, as they can get warped and damaged due to the high heat. The only exception to this is if your oven racks are self-cleaning safe—if you’re not sure, just take them out. Also remove any large pieces of food or debris from the oven.

Because your GE self-cleaning oven will get incredibly hot during the process, you need to consider the safety of yourself and others. Make sure to keep any children or pets out of the kitchen, as the outside of your oven can get hot enough to burn. For this reason, it’s also important to make sure nothing is on or near your oven, such as towels hanging off the door. 

You’ll also need to make sure your kitchen is well ventilated, either by opening a window or turning on an extractor fan, as the superheating process can produce unpleasant fumes. If possible, it’s a good idea to shut a door so the fumes can’t leave your kitchen. Do not use any cleaning products in your oven before beginning the self-clean cycle. 

Please note: Make sure you don’t overuse the self cleaning function on your oven. Bringing it to such a high temperature too often can shorten the life of your oven. Using it once every four to six months is fine. 

Start the self-cleaning cycle

Once you’ve prepared the area and removed everything from your oven, it’s time to start the self-cleaning! Here’s what to do:

  • If your GE oven model has a latch release button, press and hold it while sliding it into the “clean” position.
  • Then, turn the set knob and the temperature knob to the “clean” position. 
  • Set the duration for the cleaning cycle using the stop dial. You can choose the length of the cleaning based on how dirty your oven is. For a light soil, set it for two hours and for a heavy soil up to three hours. 
  • You’ll know the cycle is running because the “clean” light will turn on. Once the oven gets up to a high enough temperature the door will automatically lock for your safety, and it won’t unlock until the temperature comes down to a safe level.
  • Once the time runs out, the light will go off, but the door will remain locked until the oven cools down. 
  • When the “lock” light goes off, you can open the door. Press and hold the latch release button and slide it to the cook position, then set all knobs to the off position. 
  • Once you can safely open your oven, use a damp cloth to wipe away any ash left in your GE oven. 

If your oven has a steam clean option

Some GE ovens have a steam clean option. This is a good option if you don’t want to lock your oven up for the length of time required for a traditional self-cleaning cycle, or if you are concerned about fumes from the high heat cycle. To use this function:

  • Pour one cup of water into the bottom of your oven. 
  • Close the door and select the “steam” function.
  • The cycle will run for 30 minutes. After it’s finished, wipe out the remaining water and grime with a damp cloth. 
  • Because this cycle is gentler than the standard self clean cycle, you can leave racks and trays in the oven. 

Cleaning the other components:

While the self clean function on your GE oven is great, it does have its limitations. It can’t clean the oven’s exterior, or the trays and racks. Here are some tips for getting those components looking sparkling clean.

Cleaning the exterior

Use a soft cloth and a mild detergent to wipe down the front and sides of your oven. This will remove the grease and streaks without scratching the glass. 

Cleaning the trays and racks

First, soak the trays and racks in warm water and detergent. If you don’t have a sink large enough, you can try soaking them in your bathtub

After they’ve soaked for a while, use a cloth or a brush to clean away any grease or grime. If there are still stubborn spots, make a paste with water and baking soda and leave it to sit on the worst areas. After a couple of hours, wipe away the paste. Your oven trays and racks should now be sparkling clean to match your freshly cleaned oven!


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