How to Clean Oven Racks

By: Angelic Frey | Affiliate Disclosure

Cleaning oven racks sounds almost as appealing as cleaning out a fridge or defrosting a freezer. It can often seem like a labor-intensive and lengthy process that puts you in contact with odd-smelling and visually unappealing substances. However, cleaning oven racks isn’t as difficult (or gross) as it might seem and you won’t have to devote an entire afternoon to scrubbing and scraping them from the most stubborn gunk.

In most cases, all you’ll need is a tub large enough to fit the racks and a few materials—whether it’s a baking soda paste, dishwashing liquid and dryer sheets, or laundry detergent—to do the work for you.

5 ways to clean oven racks

It’s recommended that you clean your oven racks every month to prevent grease and grime from building up.

Method #1: baking soda and vinegar

For a natural method, try using a baking soda and vinegar solution to clean your oven racks.

Materials

  • Pure white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Cloth
  • Sponge

Instructions:

  1. Remove the racks from the oven and place them in an empty bathtub.
  2. Combine one cup of baking soda with ⅓ cup of water and mix until a paste is formed.
  3. With a cloth or sponge, distribute the paste evenly onto the oven racks and let it sit overnight.
  4. After letting the racks sit for at least 12 hours, fill an empty spray bottle with vinegar and spray the solution onto the surface of the racks.
  5. Wipe away any residual gunk with a cloth and warm water.
  6. Once all debris has been removed, wipe the oven racks down with a hot, damp cloth followed by a dry one. 

Method #2: laundry detergent

This simple method requires only a few materials and will have your oven racks looking brand new.

Materials

  • An old towel
  • A soft sponge or a toothbrush
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • A tub that can fit oven racks

Instructions:

  1. Lay a towel down in the tub to protect its surface from scratching.
  2. Place the dirty oven racks on top of the towel.
  3. Fill the tub with the hottest water possible, until the water completely covers the racks. It’s important for the water to be hot, as this helps jumpstart the detergent’s cleaning powers.
  4. Dissolve one cup of detergent in a bowl of hot water and add the mixture to the bathtub.
  5. Let the oven racks sit for six to 10 hours, preferably overnight.
  6. After this time has passed, wipe off any remaining residue with a cleaning sponge or toothbrush.

Method #3: dryer sheets

Dryer sheets help your clothes turn out soft and static-free due to their antistatic power and fabric-softening agents. These features come in handy when it comes to cleaning oven racks, as the antistatic helps separate the food from the racks while the fabric-softening agents soften the consistency of the gunk.

Materials

  • Dryer sheets
  • A soft sponge or cloth
  • Dish soap/dishwashing detergent
  • A tub that can fit oven racks
  • Scrub brush/scouring pad

Instructions:

  1. Line your bathtub with dryer sheets and lay the oven racks on top of them.
  2. Fill the tub with just enough water to cover the racks.
  3. Add a half cup of dishwashing detergent or dish soap to the water and let the solution sit overnight.
  4. Drain the tub and use the dryer sheets, which by now will be soaked, to remove any remaining gunk from the oven racks. For tougher stains, you may want to use a scrub brush or scouring pad.
  5. Rinse the racks with water.

Method #4: ammonia

This method doesn’t cause much of a mess and takes minimal effort. However, ammonia can produce fumes that present a serious health hazard if inhaled. When using this method, keep the ammonia away from children and pets, ensure the room you’re working in is properly ventilated, and wear a safety mask and goggles for protection.

Materials

  • Trash bags (preferably 13-gallon ones)
  • Ammonia
  • Cloth
  • Safety mask/goggles
  • Gloves
  • Cloth

Instructions:

  1. Put on your safety mask and goggles.
  2. Place the dirty oven racks in sturdy, 13-gallon garbage bags.
  3. Pour one cup of ammonia in the garbage bags to cover the racks.
  4. Seal the bags and ensure they’re tightly secured—this will prevent ammonia from leaking out and will let the fumes circulate within the enclosed area. 
  5. Lay the garbage bags on a flat surface—for ventilation and safety purposes, place the bags outside.
  6. Let the racks sit overnight. The following day, use gloves to remove the racks from the trash bags.
  7. Remove any remaining gunk from the racks with a damp cloth.

Method #5: commercial oven cleaners

If all else fails, consider using a commercial oven cleaner to clean your oven racks. Note: commercial cleaners can produce toxic fumes, so make sure to clean the racks outside in a space that’s well-ventilated.

Materials

  • Old newspaper
  • Oven cleaner
  • Protective gloves
  • Rag or old toothbrush
  • Garden hose

Instructions:

  1. Put on protective gloves to protect your hands from the cleaner.
  2. Cover your work surface with old newspaper.
  3. Lay the oven racks down in separate layers.
  4. Spray an oven cleaner on both sides of the oven racks.
  5. Let the oven racks sit for 10 minutes, or however long the product recommends.
  6. Scrub the racks with a rag or an old toothbrush to get rid of any gunk.
  7. Spray the racks off with a garden hose.

Can you clean oven racks with the oven’s self-cleaning feature?

Even if you have a self-cleaning oven, you should never clean your oven racks with the self-cleaning feature. The high temperatures during the self-cleaning cycle will strip the racks of their chrome coating and damage them, making them harder to remove.

Additionally, though oven racks are technically dishwasher-safe, a dishwashing cycle is usually too gentle to remove baked-on food and gunk from the racks.

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