7 Easy and Effective Ways to Clean Oven Racks
Oven racks can quickly become covered with grease, grime, and baked-on gunk, particularly after holiday cooking. Don't use your oven's self-clean function—try these methods instead.
It doesn’t take long for an oven to get dirty, particularly at this time of year. If you use the appliance at all, baked-on grease, sticky grime, and burnt bits are likely to accumulate. Of course, these days, lots of folks have a self-cleaning oven, which is great for banishing the gunk from the interior but potentially damaging to the racks.
The self-cleaning function typically utilizes temperatures that are double or triple of that used for cooking. Leaving the racks in place during self-cleaning can discolor the metal, take the shine off its finish, and damage the coating that helps racks slide in and out with ease.
Whether or not you have a self-cleaning oven, it’s a good idea to remove the racks and clean them the old-fashioned way. Fortunately, any of the following methods can get the job done quickly and with a minimum of hassle.
The 7 Best Ways to Clean Oven Racks
Degreasing oven racks and restoring shine may not be a fun chore, but with seven solid tactics to choose from—all using common household items you likely have on hand—you should be able to get the job done fairly quickly and without much trouble.
1. In the Bathtub
- Lay an old towel in the bottom of the tub and place the oven racks on top. Add enough very hot water to cover the oven racks, then pour in up to 1/2 cup of dishwashing soap (or up to 3/4 cup laundry detergent). Let sit overnight.
- If you’re low on detergent but have ample supplies of baking soda, sprinkle it over the oven racks instead, then douse them with distilled white vinegar. Once foaming stops, add very hot water to the tub, submerging the racks, and let sit overnight.
- In the morning, scrub the racks with an old dish towel to remove grease and grime. Use an old toothbrush to dislodge any stubborn baked-on mess. For really tough bits, add salt to the toothbrush to make the scrubbing more abrasive.
- Rinse the racks thoroughly before returning them to the oven.
RELATED: How to Clean an Oven
2. With a Trash Bag and Ammonia
- Outside or in a ventilated area, place oven racks into a clean trash bag. Add 1 pint of ammonia. Tie the bag closed and let sit overnight.
- In the morning, ensure that the area is well ventilated, as when you open the bag the ammonia fumes will be even stronger.
- Remove the racks and rinse thoroughly (no scrubbing should be necessary) with a garden hose or in the shower, then replace them in the oven.
3. Using Dryer Sheets and Dishwashing Liquid
- Place oven racks in a bathtub, washtub, or sink and fill with very hot water. Add a few squirts of dishwashing liquid to degrease the racks.
- Add a handful of dryer sheets and swirl. The water should become foamy. Tip: Used dryer sheets ought to work as well as fresh ones!
- After several hours or overnight, drain the water and wipe the racks with the dryer sheets. Any gunk that didn’t wash off in the bath will slide off easily, and the racks should shine like new. Rinse well and replace.
4. With Bar Keepers Friend and Water
- In a small bowl, make a paste with water and Bar Keepers Friend, the original powder-formula cleanser made of mineral abrasive, oxalic acid, surfactant, and a water-softening agent.
- Place oven racks in the kitchen sink and spray lightly with water.
- Using a scrubber sponge or pad, apply the paste and scour gently to remove grease, grime, and residue.
- Rinse the racks and replace.
5. With an Essential Oil Paste
- In a small glass bowl, make a paste with baking soda, vinegar, and a few drops of orange essential oil. This natural oil contains powerful antimicrobial compounds called terpenes and has a pleasant citrus scent.
- Working over the sink, use a damp sponge to apply the paste to oven racks.
- Leave the paste on for 6 to 8 hours, then scrub lightly to remove grease and grime.
- Rinse well and replace the racks.
6. With a Commercial Oven Cleaner
- Many commercial cleansers produce toxic fumes, so it’s best to clean oven racks outside if possible. For a non-toxi, eco-friendly alternative, ry a Carbona Biodegradable Oven Cleaner (available on Amazon).
- Cover a work surface with sheet plastic or newspaper. Lay down the oven racks in a single layer.
- Don rubber gloves and spray oven cleaner generously onto the racks. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
- Scrub the racks with a rag or an old toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly with a garden hose before replacing.
7. With Aluminum Foil
- Wrap the rungs of the oven racks in aluminum foil and place them in a tub filled with hot water.
- Drop a dishwasher tablet in the water; its cleansing agent will react with the foil.
- Let sit for 2 hours and drain the tub. Remove the foil, and grease and grime should be easy to wipe away.
- Rinse and replace the racks.
Q: How do you get baked-on grease off oven trays?
Try any of the above-mentioned methods to get baked-on grease off oven trays, such as the one in your broiler.
Q: How do you clean discolored oven racks?
Spritz distilled white vinegar on oven racks and then sprinkle on an ample amount of baking soda. Allow several minutes of dwell time and then scrub with a bristle brush. Oven racks can become discolored when they have been left in place during a self-cleaning function.
Q: Can you use Magic Eraser on oven racks?
Magic Eraser is an abrasive cleaning tool made of compressed melamine foam. It is safe to use on most metals, so it may be more effective on oven racks than a sponge or rag. However, do not use Magic Eraser on stainless steel or metal with a non-stick coating, or in combination with any chemicals.
Q: How do you clean oven racks in the bathtub?
Oven racks that are too large or cumbersome to fit neatly in the kitchen sink can be cleaned in the bathtub, and several of the methods detailed above suggest using hot water in the tub with such ingredients as dishwashing soap or baking soda. It’s a good idea to lay an old towel down in the bottom of the tub to protect the surface and make cleaning the tub easier once the oven racks are done.
Inviting friends and family over for holiday meals can take a toll on your appliances, and your oven usually gets the worst of it. After you get stains off of your oven racks, read our guides on how to clean an oven and how to clean oven window glass to conquer cleaning the rest of the appliance.