How to Clean Oven Racks (in 5 Steps)

June 3, 2024
Oven Repair

Oven racks are a little cumbersome and awkward to clean. You’ll want to remove them from the oven to clean them thoroughly, but they’re likely too big to clean in your kitchen sink. Even if you have a self-cleaning oven, it’s still best to clean them manually, as the extreme heat of the self-cleaning cycle could damage them. 

Fortunately, there are a few different ways you can clean oven racks, and one of these methods should be ideal for you. We outline these methods below, breaking each one down into a simple five-step process that will get your oven racks sparkling clean once again.

Here are the methods we outline below:

  • Soaking in dishwasher detergent
  • Oven cleaner and a trash bag
  • Baking soda and vinegar

Method 1: Soaking in dishwasher detergent

This first method is very effective, but it does require you to have a bathtub or a container large enough to soak your racks in. If you don’t have access to one of these, consider the other two methods.

Here are the five steps involved in method 1:

  1. If using a bathtub, lay some towels down to protect its surface from scratches and grime from the racks. Then, place the oven racks inside the bath or container.
  2. Fill the bath or container with enough hot water so that the racks are completely submerged. Then, dissolve the dishwasher detergent—either half a cup of liquid or powder or a few tabs or pods—in the hot water.
  3. Let the racks soak in the water and dishwasher detergent overnight, or around 8 to 12 hours.
  4. Use a steel wool pad, scrubbing sponge, grill brush, or similar item to scrub the racks, removing all the loosened grime. Be sure to clean every bar, on both sides, and get in all the nooks and crannies where the bars meet. Then, rinse away the remaining detergent and grime residues with clean water.
  5. Dry the racks with a towel or cloth before placing them back in the oven.

Some people also add dryer sheets to the soaking container along with the dishwasher detergent because they claim it increases the cleaning power. However, others dispute this and say they don’t make much difference. 

As for us, we haven’t ever felt the need to add dryer sheets as dishwasher detergent alone does a good enough job.

Method 2: Oven cleaner and a trash bag

This method is great if you don’t have a bathtub or large container on hand. It’s highly effective, and all you need is some oven cleaner, such as Easy-Off, and a trash bag. 

However, a quick word of warning, you’ll still want to find somewhere suitable to do this, ideally outside if you can. That’s because if any grime and oven cleaner accidentally leak out of the trash bag, you don’t want it staining your carpet or otherwise making a mess.

Here are the five steps for method 2:

  1. Grab a trash bag—the more heavy-duty, the better. Then, place your oven racks inside the trash bag and lay it down outside or in another suitable location.
  2. Spray Easy-Off or another oven cleaner liberally onto the racks inside the bag. Ensure you spray each rack entirely. 
  3. Close the bag and let the racks sit for 45 minutes.
  4. Put on a pair of rubber gloves, remove the racks, and use a sponge or cloth to scrub the racks, removing all the loosened grime. Then, rinse the racks with warm, soapy water to finish the clean.
  5. Dry the oven racks with a dry towel before placing them back in the oven.

Method 3: Baking soda and vinegar

If you’re looking for a natural method, this is the one for you. It might not be quite as powerful as the two methods outlined above, but it still does a pretty darn good job, especially if you don’t leave the racks too long for grime to build up between cleans.

Again, you’ll want to do this in the bathroom, in a large container, outside, or in another suitable location. Here are the five steps for the baking soda and vinegar method:

  1. Place old towels down to protect the surface from scratches, grime, and stains if necessary.
  2. Make a paste by mixing water and baking soda together in a 1:1 ratio. Apply the paste over the entire surface of the racks and let it sit for at least 30 minutes—the longer, the better.
  3. After waiting, spray undiluted vinegar over the entire surface of the oven racks and wait another 30 minutes.
  4. Scrub the racks with a scouring sponge or cloth to remove the loosened grime. Then, rinse with warm, soapy water to remove the remaining vinegar, baking soda, and grime residues.
  5. Completely dry your oven racks with a towel and then place them back in the oven.

How often should you clean your oven racks?

It’s generally recommended that you deep clean your oven once every three months, and this applies to the oven racks, too. However, if your oven is heavily used, you may need to clean it more often, such as once a month.

It’s also a good idea to clean up any large spills or splatter immediately, rather than let them sit there and get baked in after multiple oven uses afterwards.

Can you clean your oven racks in the dishwasher?

You might be able to clean your oven racks in the dishwasher. However, this is not usually the best method for a few reasons. 

To start, your oven racks are likely too big to fit in the dishwasher in the first place. Even if they do fit, the dishwasher jets may not provide a powerful or lengthy enough clean to remove all the stubborn grease and grime. 

The best way to clean oven racks is to soak them with a strong cleaning agent for an extended period, like in the three methods outlined above.


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