Why Pet Owners Should Think Twice About Cleaning This Appliance (And How To Do It Safely)

While using an oven's self-cleaning feature makes it easier to get all the gunk and grease off oven surfaces, the method could pose a risk to certain pets — specifically, birds. Self-cleaning ovens reach temperatures of 900 degrees Fahrenheit and since many of these ovens have a Teflon coating, they may give off fumes, which can cause polytetrafluoroethylene toxicosis in birds. Birds have delicate lungs, and breathing in air while an oven is self-cleaning can cause a serious reaction. Symptoms include lethargy and wheezing, gasping, and overall difficulty in breathing for birds. Many times, these toxic fumes will prove fatal for pet birds, so it's best to avoid this cleaning method if you have feathered friends in your home.

While humans, dogs, and cats are more likely to be unaffected by the fumes, it's still a good idea to keep pets outside or in another area of the home if you decide to use an oven's self-cleaning feature. Further, self-cleaning ovens are also known to release small amounts of carbon monoxide, which is harmful to humans and pets. If you use the self-cleaning feature, make sure your kitchen is well-ventilated.

How to clean your oven without the self-cleaning feature

Avoiding the self-cleaning feature is the best way to ensure you and your pets won't breathe in unpleasant fumes. While traditional oven-cleaning products have chemicals that can also be harmful to inhale, baking soda is a natural degreaser and deodorizer. To clean your oven this way, combine ⅓ cup baking soda with 3 tablespoons of water. This should form a thick paste, which you can use to scrub your oven. It's best not to rub the baking soda onto the heating element, but the walls and glass of your oven are fine. Allow the mixture to set for 20 minutes and wipe your oven surface with damp paper towels or cloths.

If your oven is particularly dirty, use more baking soda with the same amount of water, and you can also add (coarse) salt to work as an abrasive to help scrub off the dirt. If you must use the self-cleaning feature on your oven, keep your pets outside or in an area with fresh air until the smell is gone, and make sure birds aren't exposed to the fumes at all.