Self Cleaning Ovens – Toxic For Humans or Only Birds?

A friend recently mentioned she was cleaning her oven using the self cleaning option on her machine and the terrible smell. Anyone that has used this feature knows what I’m talking about. I’ve only used it once – maybe 5 years ago and I had the worst reaction physically; my eyes went dry and itchy, throat burned, and I had a wicked headache for days.  I realize I’m more sensitive that most with how my body reacts to strong scent, but it reminded me to research this topic and the news isn’t great for you that love the convenience of this feature on their oven.

It’s very interesting the limited amount of information available on the topic of self cleaning ovens and just how toxic they are for human health. But (and it explains the title of this article) there is loads on the effects of what happens when pets (birds especially) are near a room with the oven using the self clean feature. Even the company DuPont (the creator of Teflon) acknowledges that hundreds of pet birds die each year.  Remember DuPont?  They are the creators of Teflon and other non-stick chemicals that have been poisoning their community in West Virginia for years.  Although they pay their employees well – the environmental destruction is significant and several law-suits have ensued from members of their community when their water system was contaminated and people working at the DuPont plant were suffering from significant health problems (asthma, birth defects, cancers, etc.). With all of the controversy surrounding DuPont, it really freaks me out when even they admit chemicals (PFOA) they still use, should be phased out by 2015. So here is the quote from a website dedicated to bird health who has summarized the self cleaning oven debate quite nicely…the site is called  Avian Web site and I quote:

Do not run the self-cleaning cycle on ovens when birds are around. Self-cleaning ovens are lined with PTFE (Teflon) and reach 900 degrees Fahrenheit during the self-cleaning cycle and emit gasses into the air that kill birds rather quickly.

Huh?  Self cleaning ovens are lined with Teflon?  We know what happens when Teflon is subjected to high heat (especially 900 degrees Fahrenheit) and the off-gassing is very toxic for humans.   While shopping today I popped into a department store to ask a sales rep her opinion on self cleaning ovens, Teflon, non-stick coatings, etc. The look I got was that I was speaking from another Planet. So my idea on this is even if you are told a non-stick coating is Teflon or PFC free – like your oven – always be cautious. I would recommend simply not using the self clean option on your oven.  Especially if you have babies, children, or pregnant people that might be exposed to the fumes.  Yes, you can ventilate your home, but if it’s one thing I’ve learned about the PFOA crowd of chemicals – they are bad friends that don’t go away easily. They are carcinogens and unlike our friends phthalates or PBA, they do not flush out of our systems quickly. They have a very long existence making them one of the worst offenders within man made chemicals to stay away from.

And just in case you are wondering how to clean your ovens naturally – I tried this incredibly simple and easy oven cleaner recipe from the Cleaning Naked site and what do you know? It worked on my oven that hasn’t had a deep clean in years. I let the baking soda sit for maybe 5 hours – didn’t even require the overnight recommendation in the directions.

I promise to talk more about Teflon this month. Until then, if you are using Perfluorochemicals chemicals: non-stick pans/pots, microwavable popcorn bags, clothing or furniture that repels stains are the best places to start phasing out this chemical from your life. Also stay clear of products with the ingredient starting with perfluoro. I sorted out my scratched Teflon frying pans and pots that I received as wedding gifts a few months ago and although eggs will never be easy again – I’m getting the hang of using my stainless steel frying pans.  The extra time is worth not serving up a portion of Teflon in family meals each day.

 

This article was submitted to the Frugal Days Sustainable Ways Blog Hop on April 17th, hosted by Frugally Sustainable.

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71 Responses to Self Cleaning Ovens – Toxic For Humans or Only Birds?

  1. The Mindful Merchant March 29, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    Wow – scary information. I have use my self cleaning oven twice a year and throw every window open. Not good enough though, I will try your natural cleaning method. Thank you – great post.

  2. Annemarie March 29, 2010 at 10:19 am #

    Eeeep. And here I thought my self-cleaning oven was so fab in terms of less work!

  3. carla March 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    haha. had i know this earlier i wouldnt have turned my self cleaning oven last night

  4. Gwen @ Nayla Natural Care March 29, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    Such a great post Suzanne. I have never used the self clean function on our oven because of this reason. And I never will. I wonder if there are ovens that are not teflon coated. Something I will be looking into since we will be purchasing a new one in the Fall.

    A great alternative to teflon free cookware is Earth Chef and they are easily found at Zellers and The Bay. I have many of their pieces and love them all! http://www.earthchef.ca/aboutEarthChef.html

  5. Tanis @ MamaMaven March 29, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Thanks sistah! I’ve been long on the move away from these nasties but had no idea they were in self cleaning ovens- always great info- thanks for what you do!

  6. DLM April 2, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    So, that’s the funny smell… wish I would have known sooner! I’ll be trying that baking soda method you linked to though! Thanks as always :)

  7. Rhonda April 30, 2010 at 11:38 am #

    Looking forward to your thoughts and research on alternatives to non stick cookware. I enjoy baking healthy muffins, etc for my family, but haven’t done as much lately because I don’t know what to replace my nonstick baking tins with. I have read from other sources that commercial bakeware is an option, but they are usually aluminum, and I won’t buy the silicone products out there. Recently, I have seen products claiming to be the ‘earth friendly” option, but I just don’t know. I am reluctant to try something that noone knows anything about, yet. Thanks for all of your great articles.

  8. Lily May 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    So that’s what the smell is! We used the feature on our new oven for only an hour and a half and then had to turn it off because it was making us all so sick. Who knew! Thanks so much!

  9. Betty May 9, 2010 at 3:06 am #

    I have a fairly new Bosch stove. It has been in use for about a year. However, it is time for cleaning. I was unaware of the chemicals emitted from self-cleaning ovens, but I don’t want to use that feature because of the white ashy look that covers the oven following the cleaning. It isn’t very dirty, but there are a few stains I would like cleaned. What should I do?

  10. Lorinda Tanner July 29, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    I thought I would the self cleaning feature on my oven. Now I’m so sick I can’t hardly think straight. I’m throwing up, my lungs feel burned. And what a migraine I have. Please no one use this feature. I have never heard of this before. I’m just glad my children are ok. DO NOT USE THIS FEATURE…

  11. Ruth October 19, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

    I always thought that there was something toxic with self-cleaning ovens…I hated the smell and it made me feel sick so I quit using it. Recently, I became a consultant for Norwex cleaning products and I used the Oven and Grill cleaner. It cleans the oven with enzymes and is non-toxic! It works great!

  12. jenn November 6, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    Rhonda:
    I had the same problem with muffins. When I decided to have kids I bought this:
    http://www.pamperedchef.com/our_products/catalog/product.jsp?productId=1016&categoryCode=FH

    And I love it. once it’s well seasoned, it doesn’t stick.

  13. caroline November 21, 2010 at 11:47 pm #

    i was about to use my self clean cycle for the first time but became skeptical when i noticed the bird warning on the directions page. BIG THANKS for your post– i’ll use baking soda.

    try iron skillets…when seasoned properly and regularly with olive oil, they are just as effective as non-stick and non-toxic. on the contrary, regular use can boost iron stores in the body.

  14. Talisa February 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Thank you. I have never used a self cleaning oven until today. The smell was awful so I jumped on line to see what the deal was. I appreciate you. I stopped the process only 20min into it.

  15. DLM February 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    I read this when you previously posted it and I finally had the chance to use the baking soda as a cleaner this weekend. My oven was SPARKLING! So simple, so easy. No armwork necessary. I knew that smell being emitted from my oven was not right when I used the self-cleaning function…

  16. Alauna February 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    I have only used the self cleaning option once… and that was enough. I have always found that a little elbow grease goes a long way!!! Cant wait to try the non-toxic & natural option you linked, as my oven is wayyy over due for a cleaning!!!

  17. Mari March 29, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    I am so Glad I read this today. I used the self-cleaning option today and got extremely sick with a horrible migraine and nausea. I was not sure what caused it but now I know- I feel intoxicated. My head still hurts after taking analgesics and my stomach feels . I will never use this again!

    Thanks for sharing this info!

  18. Delores April 15, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    Check out the posts on my Fan Page yesterday and today about oven cleaner… http://on.fb.me/DeloresFanPage

    Oven cleaner is toxic and self cleaning ovens are just as bad! Norwex, is a company with a goal – to radially reduce our exposure to harmful chemicals. Their Oven Cleaner is an enzyme product. It works amazing and it is also wonderful on barbecue grills!

    Feel free to contact me for more information about this product. CleanChemicalFree@yahoo.ca

  19. bad experience April 22, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    First time I ever used my self cleaning feature was two days ago. Very bad experience. Smoke filled the house, smoke detectors were going off. Flame shot up the side and across the top of the inside of the oven. Called fire department. Opened all windows, two days later house still smells of smoke. They don’t tell you this when you purchase the oven. Had no idea flames in gas stove were to be expected.

  20. Kristina July 14, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    I have had my oven since February. I’ve baked in it about 10x and had a repair man come 4x because the stink will not go away! Finally, the last repair man said I need to put it on self-clean to get rid of the awful smell. Did it and had to leave the house cuz the smell was unbearable. Now I’m concerned because I am pregnant and have been so since I started using this darn oven. Any advice? I love to bake and feel like I shouldn’t.

  21. suzanne July 17, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    Hi Kristina,
    I would contact the manufacturer of this oven and demand to know why it smells. Is it an ‘off-gassing’ type smell? That should not be happening with a new appliance and using the self-clean option shouldn’t be required to fix their problem. I would just ask for it to be replaced and would not use the self clean option with any appliance. The high heat against non-stick surface isn’t a good combo..but great job with airing out your house when using it. Try using baking soda to clean your next oven..it works really well and it’s safe to use while pregnant or with a new baby in the house. Good luck!

    Suzanne

  22. chasity July 18, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    HI,
    THE SELF CLEANING OVEN WAS ON IN MY HOUSE AND IT LET OUT A TERRIABLE TOXIC GAS SMELL . I WAS HOME WITH MY TO SMALL CHILDREN IT WAS TERRIABLE I FELT SICK I THOUGTH SOMETHING WAS GOING TO HAPPEN TO US AFTER INHALING THIS TERRIBALE SMELL. I FINALLY HAD TO LEAVE MY HOUSE, BUT THE SMELL STILL STAYED FOR 24 HOURS. IM VERY CONCERN THAT MY CHILDREN INHALED THIS TOXIC SMELL. WHAT ARE THE LONG TERM AFFECTS OF THIS.? SHOULD I BE WORRIED THAT SOMETHING COULD HAPPEN TO MY CHILDRENS HEALTH. I HAD NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE I DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE TERRIABLE TOXIC SMELL THAT SELF CLEANING OVENS LET OUT. I FELT VERY SICK I CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT MY TWO SMALL CHILDREN WHERE FEELING 1YR AND 2YRS OLD.

  23. Al D August 13, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    I can’t believe somthing so harmful is in so many people’s homes. I used it last nite for the first time had to turn it off in one and a half hours. Didn’t bother me but my wife was going nuts to turn it off. I’m glad I did I have a three and a half year old. Next morning when I dusted it out I couldn’t stop gagging, if only I knew. Thanks for the info.

  24. stephen dance October 9, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    Yep this 100% true, my friend told me today he killed his mums parrot by tuning on the self cleaning option on his oven, the bird fell on its back squawked and died within no time at all, He is pretty shaken up to say the least.

  25. joe October 23, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    Hello everyone,

    I some how turned it on by accident while I was baking chicken. THE OVEN STARTED TO SMOKE. I didn’t know what was wrong. IMMEDIATELY I OPENED WINDOWS AND TURNED VENT ON. This needless to say can be very dangerous!!

    I’m glad i looked it up and found these entries , instead of being ignorant. Now I almost don’t want to use my oven. Also I didn’t know that it had Teflon in oven, that why I didn’t use non stick pans to avoid this mess. THanks

  26. Amy Kaufman January 16, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    Hello. I am a Independent Norwex consultant and was looking into the harmful effects of self cleaning oven and came across your page. Thank you I plan to use this information at my shows! I would love for you to check out my website http://www.amykaufman.norwex.biz we sell cleaning products that use Enzymes instead of harmful chemicals! I love our Oven and Grill cleaner, I think you will too! (only heat oven to 100 and spray and let sit for 5 min.)
    Amy

  27. Lois January 17, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    So glad I found this website. I just turned on my self-cleaning feature for the first time, and turned it off and opened the windows probably 15 minutes later! I’m more worried about my 10 lb. dog than about myself. I can’t believe the strong, offensive odor. I could feel it on my tongue. It is about 20 degrees and windy outside, so had plenty of freezing air blowing in here. I had to open all the windows in my house; the smell went everywhere in that short period of time. The oven I previously had did not have an odor like this. I will NEVER turn it on again, and am thankful for the baking soda tip. This cannot be healthy. With so much cancer today, and people wondering why young and healthy people are getting it, maybe this is something to think about. Years ago, we didn’t have self-cleaning ovens, or a lot of other artificial things that may not be healthy.

  28. Lois January 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    Day 2 – after inhaling fumes from oven. I’m surprised that having it on for only a short while has caused me to have coughing, a sore throat and a headache today. As soon as I realized those fumes were getting worse, I turned it off, had the windows open, felt that I got rid of the odor pretty well. I can’t imagine what it would have done to me, and my little dog, had I kept it on the recommended 4 hrs. I only had it on 15 or 20 minutes. I’ve done some reading on this today; something so possibly toxic should be banned.

  29. Gerard Devine January 24, 2012 at 6:00 am #

    First Off, Thank you for the very useful information.
    I have had birds in the house our hole life. When we moved to our new house 4yrs ago I had no idea how dangerous new gas ovens can be to birds. We had lost 3 canaries before I found out what was causing the deaths. Our oven is NOT a self clean oven. This weekend, both my canaries died as a result of having the grill on for about 15 mins. I have had enough.
    I can feel something wrong with my breathing when the oven is on. It is like I can almost taste something in the air I breath. I have also started getting headaches, especially when I am cooking in the kitchen.
    What might this be doing to my children ?
    Can I test the air in the kitchen when the oven / Grill is on ?
    Sincerely,
    Gerard Devine

  30. anneke street January 25, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    Hi. My parrot has been suffering from intermittent bouts of repiratory.distress for 2 years now. I have never been able to find the problem. I have never used the clean function on my oven & never use the temperature.above 200…..do you know if PTFEs could be being breathed in by her or us when im just using my oven in this way ? Thanks. Very worried parrot owner !!!!!

  31. Cassandra McNiven January 31, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    I knew just from intuition that the self-cleaning oven was dangerous, but that’s crazy!
    I sell Norwex and we have a fantastic oven and grill cleaner that is NOT toxic….uses enzymes only, and the only warning on the bottle is: Warning: Irritant. LOL!
    Here is my website: cassandramcniven.norwex.biz
    Check it out!
    Works like magic!

  32. Joyce Sobotta March 12, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Thank you. I was just going to use the self cleaning oven feature and I thought it might be toxic so I wen t online to find out. Thanks for writing this aritcle!!!
    I will clean it the old fashioned way. :)

  33. Melissa Garcia March 31, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    I lost 5 lovebirds to tephlon poisining several years back. I was making tortilla’s and got my pan to hot. I had no clue tephlon was toxic to birds.I lost 5 birds due to my lack of knowledge about this truley toxic chemical. I now own several cast iron and stainless steel pans and that is what I cook on. My husband still insists on haveing a tephlon pan for eggs, however I am starting to get him to realize you can cook eggs on stainless steel you just have to use plenty of cooking spray.

  34. suzanne April 2, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    Sorry for your loss Melissa…that is so sad. Stainless steel pans are affordable and great…we use olive oil and coconut oil for cooking eggs, etc. and don’t have any problems with food sticking. Good luck and thanks for the comment!

  35. Sarah May 1, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    Thank you all for posting. I recently got a new electric oven. It really smell for first few cycles,then also even after running the self clean cycle (as recommended by the manufacturer). We did make sure we were out of the house for 24 hours when running it, but I can still smell it in my kitchen. It’s very frustrating. I am returning the oven, but am afraid a new one will have the same smell. CAN ANYONE RECOMMEND A SPECIFIC OVEN THEY RECENTLY PURCHASED THAT DOES NOT HAVE AN ODOR?

  36. suzanne May 1, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    The problem is not the odor..it’s the fact the oven is lined with non-stick coating. If you don’t use the self clean option – you’ll be able to avoid any smell, fumes, or off-gassing. ~Suzanne

  37. Irena in NJ June 3, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    Hello – My stove was on its way out and I purchased a new one at Home Depot. I turned it on to bake a pie and the smell was so bad that my mother and I had to leave the house even though the kitchen window was open and the ceiling fan was on.

    I tried to return the stove to Home Depot, but they have a policy that they only way you can return the stove is by calling up the manufacturer.

    I called up the manufacturer’s customer service line about three times and they gave me the run around and said they were going to send in a service person to look at it.

    I got angry at the injustice of this and looked up the name of the President and placed a phone call to him and emailed him. I spoke to his Admin and then to his VP. They told me to cancel the appointment with the service person because it was not going to help my problem any. After a few conversations, they picked up my stove and refunded my money.

    I have been without a stove for several months now and have been using a convection oven and an electric burner.

    The point is that I did not have the oven on self-clean and it stunk to high-heaven anyway.

    My question is does anybody use a stove that does not stink when it is in bake mode – or broil mode at 500 degrees>

  38. Emily June 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    Great article! I just wanted to let others know that I recently read the All Clad cookware manufacturer’s instructions, and they state that food will not stick if the pan doesn’t get too hot. This was a revelation to me, because I’ve been jacking up the heat for years (out of impatience) and my food sticks no matter how much oil I use.

    Since I implemented a low-heat policy, I’ve been loving my stainless steel skillet! Even for fried eggs!

  39. Irena in NJ June 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Hello – I called as many stove manufacturers as I could. I learned from MAYTAG ( 1.800.344.1274) that they do NOT use PTFE chemicals in their stove. The customer service person switched me to the information specialist. I am thinking that this is the chemical that might have created that awful chemical smell to begin with. This specialist went on to say that MAYTAG, WHIRLPOOL, KITCHEN AID, JEN AIR and AMANA, are all the same companies and do not use PTFE in their appliances. However, when I call up Whirlpool ( 1.866.640.7146) and spoke to Barbara at x7048, she was unsure. Then I saw an ad for a Whirlpool oven that says on SEARS website – range with aqualift self-clean technology – “easy and odor-free oven-cleaning” – model # WFG540H0AW – I am going to buy and hopefully have a chemical-free smelling range.

  40. Thomas July 2, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Thank you for the info, I came looking for information because i started to feel sick, it was only going about 15minutes. its off now; and that feature isnt going to
    get used in this house, Its been about 1hr since i first
    read this article and turned it off – decided to post because
    I CAN STILL SMELL IT AND I FEEL SICKER!
    all windows and doors open too!
    I have to leave the house for a few hours hopefully it will clear out by then, thanks again.
    This crap shouldnt be legal!

  41. Pamela July 7, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Get this, my stupid husband turns the self cleaning oven on in 108 degrees weather to where we cant open the windows..and let’s just say he not that smart, I’m packing up the baby and leaving cause the smell is making me so sick.

  42. Irena in NJ July 15, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    Hello -

    This is an extension of my comment on June 24, 2012.
    I went and purchased a brand new Whirlpool oven without the “aqualift” technology of ” odor-free oven cleaning.” I researched that there was a special coating on the inside of the oven of the aqualift odor-free oven cleaning” technology and just didn’t trust it. As soon as I got my standard Whirlpool oven, I put it on and waited for the terrible smell to happen even though Maytag customer service said that Whirlpools and Maytags (same company) don’t use the chemical PTFE ( I wasn’t sure if that was the chemical in my previous new stove that made my mom and me run out of the house because we were getting sick – but I was guessing that it was) . There was a smell in the beginning and then it became very faint after an hour of the oven being on. Horray!

  43. Irena in NJ July 15, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    Thank-you Mommy Footprint for giving us this forum.

  44. Angie August 14, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Hi there. My oven is a selfcleaning oven and is in desperate need of a cleanIng. I will do it the natural way, but I must know, is it safe to be in there scrubbing it? So, wouldn’t harmful gasses be emitted just through baking in the oven? Is it Ok to store my stainless steel pits and

  45. Angie August 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Is it safe to store pots n pans in and even just bake in a Teflon coated oven? Also, do you know of any toaster or convection ovens without a Teflon/ nonstick coating?

  46. suzanne August 15, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    To my knowledge it’s the extreme high heat of the ‘self clean’ option that causes a mixture of fumes so when the oven is cold – there shouldn’t be any issues. Is there an odor being released when it’s cold and you’re inside cleaning? If not, I wouldn’t have any concerns about cleaning it or storing pots and pans. This would be a great time to check your pots and pans to further remove teflon exposure. Stainless steel & cast iron (2nd hand if you can find them) are great alternatives to non-stick!

  47. Lois August 28, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Okay – so I’ve read all the posts since I posted mine in January. WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT THIS? The self-cleaning features that cause these toxic fumes should be banned! It is the end of August now and my throat still gets sore sometimes – and I only had it on for 15 – 20 minutes! My son is an attorney and I asked him about it. This isn’t his field, but he said it would be very hard to prove. Somewhere, sometime, hopefully there will be a good class action lawsuit that will force these companies to make healthy changes. It’s only right.

  48. BobTheApplianceGuy September 3, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

    Very good article Suzanne!! I’ve been an appliance technician for 30 years and I have always advised my customers that using the self-clean feature on an oven is NOT a good idea. The most important reason is exactly what you’ve talked about here in your article and that should be enough but there is another reason to add to this.

    A large percentage of our oven calls are right after the customer has used the self-clean feature. The oven no longer heats, or the door won’t open or the electronic control board has failed. When the oven reaches such high temperatures during self-clean, the heat can and does cause parts to fail. A real common problem we see is on Whirlpool electric wall ovens. Right after using the self-clean feature, the oven no longer heats. Most of the time, it’s because the high-limit thermostat has failed and needs to be replaced. It’s $138.08 for the part & labor. (That is if we do it. I’ve seen other appliance repair companies charge a lot more.) It’s an expense that could have been avoided if the customer didn’t use the self-clean. I have a self-clean oven in my home and we have never used the self-clean because of the health issues. Obviously it wouldn’t cost me much to fix it but for most people, there are now 2 very good reasons NOT to use the self-clean feature.

    If you just wipe up your spills right away when they happen, then there really is no reason to risk your health and create expenses you don’t need!

    I’m currently writing an article about using the self-clean feature on ovens Suzanne, and I hope you don’t mind if I put a link to your article here.

    -Bob(the appliance guy)
    B&D Appliance Repair Service
    Palmdale, CA 93551

  49. Rana September 28, 2012 at 6:24 am #

    Hi Suzanne, thank you so much for the article. I used self clean cycle and had to turn it off after one hour from all the horrible smells it was causing. I wish I read your article earlier. I’m 9 weeks pregnant and now I’m worried that smells affected the baby! I opened all the windows and was sitting on my balcony, but still I can still smell it! Is one hour toxic enough to cause harm??

  50. suzanne October 3, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    I wouldn’t worry too much mama! one hour is not enough to cause harm! ~Suzanne

  51. Brittany October 12, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    WoW!!!! MY mother is using this feature on our oven as we speak! :( My little 6 month old daughter was upstairs with us and started getting fussy and has red eyes as well as me having terrible watery eyes and itchy face! I thought something might be up with this so I took my daughter down to the basement where she usually naps and she was fine, even I have stayed down here because I cannot handle the horrid stench and the burning eyes. I will have to show her this article and good thing I will be gone most of the day with activities because I seriously dont want my little one anywhere near this stuff now! EEEK!! Teflon in our ovens! Gross!!! That stuff is freaking deadly!!! :( I am very sad that we didnt know this before we bought our oven.

  52. Deja November 22, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    Even though we have a self cleaning oven, I don’t use it, for the very reasons you listed in your article… thank you for sharing! The Norwex Oven Cleaner has replaced my previous method of oven cleaning. It’s an enzyme based, non-toxic, highly effective spray that literally eats the food off your oven. It’s a little pricy, but worth every penny as it lasts for multiple cleanings… it’s also fantastic for removing burnt on food from smooth top stoves!

  53. suzanne November 28, 2012 at 1:27 am #

    Thanks for the comment. I find baking soda to be a really great option for oven cleaning! I leave overnight if it’s really caked one! ~Suzanne

  54. Sarah December 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    I am so glad to see you are letting people know about the danger. I had a friend over and she thought it would be a nice gesture to clean the oven after the holiday meals. She selected the self- clean feature on my 2007 oven.
    I Came out of a bath and could smell the oven was on.
    I then saw my beautiful mollucan parrot (20″ tall and peach colored” bending over and struggling to breathe. I looked at my other birds and two more out of the five began doing the same. I grabbed them and literally threw them outside as fast as I could. Within a minute the three suffocated. The other two recovered. It was the most awful thing I have ever seen. They were terrified and looked at me with eyes pleading for help.
    It seemed that the two only survived because the fumes did not go in there direction. Windows were open throughout the house so that tells you just how toxic this stuff is.
    HOW CAN ANYONE CLAIM THIS IS SAFE TO EXPOSE CHILDREN TOO? OR ANYONE FOR THAT MATTER?
    They have known of this for years and yet successfully lobbied against warning labels on teflon products.
    Keep in mind, teflon is used in many products that heat up and can produce toxic vapors; ROOM HEATERS, POTS/PANS, IRONS, WOKS, BLOW DRYER COILS. The list is extensive. Since my incident I cleared the house of all teflon products. I did this by calling manufacturers of the above items and asking if teflon was used.
    Thanks again for your post. Maybe together we can make them put warning labels on these products. This would hurt sales and inevitably force them to deal with the peoblem. :)

  55. Barb January 14, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    As the Cleaning Naked site is no longer in existence, can you tell me the method you used to clean your oven with baking soda?
    Many thanks!

  56. Barb January 14, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    I used the self-clean for the 1st time yesterday. My cat was meowing like the house was on fire! I put her down the basement while the oven was cleaning, to protect her from the smell. I had the fan & vent going above the stove top & opened windows (it’s -23C here in our part of Canada!) but was not successful. Now it’s the day after. I have tried to get rid of the smell using vinegar in a dish & baking soda in the oven, but it is throughout the house. I am so sorry that I didn’t read the Mommy Footprint article before I used the self-cleaning cycle.
    Any suggestions for getting rid of the smell throughout the house? I would like to neutralize it – not add another smell to the house.

  57. suzanne January 17, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

    Hi Barb! Make a baking soda paste (just add some water to baking soda) and brush onto your oven – leave overnight and use a stainless steel ball to remove all grim in the morning. Works like a charm and no toxic fumes! Air out the house – only way to get rid of the fumes. ~Suzanne

  58. Jenn January 23, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    Well, I WISH I’d read this yesterday!
    Last night I decided to use the self-cleaning option on our new oven for the first time, not realizing the risks involved. We started it shortly before bed, and as the oven is on the opposite end of the house, we didn’t think anything of it – expecting to wake up to a clean oven. Not so.
    Within an hour of being in bed, I realized that I was having a lot of trouble breathing, my chest was so sore, my coughing uncontrollable, aching head, and my eyes were burning like crazy! My husband was in a similar condition.
    The first thing we did was run down to shut the oven off and check our toddler’s bedroom to see if the smell was just as toxic in there. Although it was -30 degrees out last night, we had to open all the windows to air the house out for an hour.
    It’s a brand new oven and now that I’ve read this about the Teflon coating, it makes sense! We’ve had two self cleaning ovens before, but the fumes were not even close to this bad. My throat, head, and chest are still sore today.

    LESSON LEARNED. I’ll be finishing the cleaning process with baking soda.
    Thank you for this post!

  59. Frenchy March 7, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

    There is nothing in the manual concerning this and the effects it has. It made me sick and my two year old grand-baby was in the home alone with my two dogs. Had to give grand-daughter a breathing treatment. It’s been two days and you can still smell the fumes a little especially upstairs.

  60. sara June 11, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Eggs need not be tough in a stainless steel pan! Heat the pan, and then add cold oil. I like coconut oil. Then turn off the heat and salt the pan. Yep, salt it! Wipe the salt around and then brush it out into the trash can. Return the pan to heat and add a small amount of cold oil. Let it sit until the oil is good and hot then pour in your eggs. They will not stick. ;-)

  61. beckyjopdx September 23, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    a properly seasoned iron skillet is slicker than any teflon….I haven’t owned teflon since the 90s, but eggs in a iron skillet? best ever.

  62. Nikki October 13, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    I wish I had read the sooner! Just turn on our brand new self cleaning oven and after about 30 minutes the fumes were so bad we had to turn it off and open all the windows and doors. I have an almost 2 year old and I’m worried about her as I now have a headache and not feeling quite well.

  63. suzanne October 14, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    Hugs Nikki. You are doing the right thing airing out the house. Get some plants for further air purification and use the baking soda recipe to clean your oven in the future. You won’t have to worry about feeling dizzy or having head aches after.

  64. K Isaac November 14, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    I just moved into a renovated home with all new Whirlpool appliances. I turned on the gas oven to 350 and within minutes it was reeking of a toxic odor. I opened the door and could see fumes coming off the glass on the inside of the oven door. I did not use the self-cleaning feature. There is no indication that a film on the door could have been peeled off/removed before using. I had thrown out all nonstick cookware and purchased stainless steel and cast iron. I am afraid to use the oven at all. Now what? Has anyone found an oven that is guaranteed not to have PTFE?

  65. Anne November 18, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    Would it be possible for someone to post the baking soda oven cleaning instructions from the Cleaning Naked site? The link no longer works for me and the results of a google search for that site is only turning up results focused on the “naked” part.

  66. suzanne November 25, 2013 at 1:40 am #

    Hi Anne, Thanks you – I’ll have to edit the article. You just make a baking soda paste (baking soda and water), coat the oven and leave overnight. It comes off easily the next morning. Good luck!

  67. Dennis Klager March 8, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    I called Thermador, to ask about our new oven, and they assured me there is no Teflon or Formaldehyde in their ovens. They say its baked enamel inside.
    The rep on the phone said’ Do you know the lawsuits we would have if we were using Teflon or Formaldehyde? ”
    I looked for class action lawsuits and couldn’t find any. Anyone else know of one?
    Has anyone sent suspect material to a lab for verification?

  68. Michele October 11, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    OMG!!! I knew something must be wrong with (self-cleaning), This is the second experience i had using the self-cleaning on my oven.

    The smell is indeed toxic. withing 10 minutes i was soo sick i could hardly breathe, feverish and at some point drowsy, I was barely able to point to my son to turn the oven off.
    Im never ever using that system again.
    Michele

  69. Emily November 10, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    K Isaac, I have brand new Whirlpool oven and am experiencing the same thing. There is a horrible odor and my throat starts burning when I use the oven at all. Worried about my daughter and my cat.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Green Moms Unite to Talk About Toxic Chemicals | Groovy Green Livin - March 19, 2012

    [...] Have you ever noticed that horrible smell when you self-clean your oven? Suzanne of Mommy Footprint shares a very interesting post on Self Cleaning Ovens – Toxic For Humans or Only Birds? [...]

  2. 5 Tips to Make Your Major Home Appliances Last Longer  - Frugal Mom Eh! - April 26, 2013

    [...] feature on your Oven.    The fumes that are emitted from the self-clean cycle are toxic.  Also, due to the high temperatures necessary for the self-clean cycle, parts may fail.  [...]

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