For anyone who has ever spent hours on their knees, wiping the interior of an oven with caustic chemicals, the idea of a self-cleaning oven can seem like a miracle. But how does the self-cleaning process actually work?

Simply put, most self-cleaning ovens work by heating the interior of the oven to around 900 degrees Fahrenheit. This burns off any residue into ash. After the oven is cooled, the ash can then be wiped out in just a few minutes with a damp sponge or cloth.

Before a self-cleaning cycle is run, the oven racks should be removed, and the inside of the cold oven should be wiped to remove large spills or any loose particles on the oven floor. The oven door must be locked with the installed mechanical interlock before the cycle can begin, and the lock will not be released until the oven has cooled down after the cycle. This prevents accidental burns. The entire self-cleaning process usually takes around three hours.

The self-cleaning process produces smoke and fumes, especially if any large spills were not wiped out before the self-cleaning cycle was started. Keeping an overhead vent on or opening a window can greatly aid in ventilation. Pets may need to be removed from the area until the cycle is finished.

It is important to note that the self-cleaning cycle will not take care of everything. The glass on the oven window, for instance, will need to be cleaned by hand, and those pesky oven racks will require hand-cleaning, as well. But for those who prefer their cleaning to be chemical-free, and those who are too busy to clean their oven in the traditional fashion on a regular basis, or even those who find traditional cleaning extremely tedious, a self-cleaning oven can be worth it.

I certainly appreciate mine.