Please: Don’t Use the Self-Clean Cycle on Your Oven to Clean Your Baking Sheets

published May 1, 2021
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Credit: Lauren Volo

I don’t know when we all just decided that it was OK to have a permanent patina on our baking sheets. (It’s not like we’d allow that to happen to our favorite skillet!) They’re hard to clean, though, so many of us settle for a less-than-ideal level of cleanliness … or, we get creative.

Which brings me to this this popular TikTok tip, which suggests popping baking sheets into the oven and turning on the self-clean cycle. But wait! I wanted to know if this was a good idea or not, so I reached out to some appliance experts. Turns out, it’s not. See, self-cleaning ovens break down burnt-on bits and grease with super-high temperatures, so it is likely that those annoying messes will disappear from the pan if you try the trick. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen without some pretty significant risks.


#stitch with @sarah..perry remember to be safe and Google how to use your specific oven self clean #lifehacks #cleaningtiktok #kitchenhacks

♬ original sound – Holly Auna (she/her)

The first, and most important, reason to skip this TikTok hack? It’s straight-up dangerous. According to Uncle Harry Raker, an appliance repair pro of 50 years, putting a pan in your oven during a self-clean cycle is “a great way to end up with smoke or fire in your kitchen.” 

Your own safety should be enough of a motivator, but there are even more reasons to find another way to clean your pan. Chef Andrew Forlines, an appliance technology specialist who teaches kitchen designers and homeowners how to choose and use appliances, says the high heat could warp the baking sheet or remove the finish on the dirty pan, compromising its performance later on. Plus, you want to use your oven’s self-cleaning feature sparingly. The more you use it, the more likely it is that something could go wrong.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Your Oven’s Self-Cleaning Button — Once and for All

Credit: Joe Lingeman

The best practice, if you’re worried about baking sheets with burned-on food, is to take a preventative approach. “You don’t have to clean up a mess you don’t make,” says Forlines. Try using a silicone baking mat, parchment paper, or aluminum foil to line the pan for easier cleaning. And if the time inevitably comes to give that pan a good clean, just get out the baking soda and peroxide!