How To Clean Oven Racks: 5 Easy, Proven Methods

No, you shouldn’t just let those old cheese drippings burn off.

It’s safe to assume that cleaning the oven racks isn’t exactly a chore that makes anybody’s top favorite things to clean list. (Do people even have those? Or is it just us? You’ve got to admit, squeegeeing the shower doors is fun.) But cleaning your oven racks should be on your kitchen cleaning checklist under the seasonal category. Unless your chicken pot pie has bubbled over or the frozen pizza’s cheese has melted everywhere or your latest sheet pan creation has dribbled oil down the sides. In that case, you’d better clean your oven racks sooner than later. It’s tempting to just ignore the mess and close the appliance’s door until the next meal (same deal with the crumby toaster oven and the splattery microwave), but you’re really doing your future self a disservice. And maybe even creating a fire hazard.

How to clean oven racks

We’ve compiled a list of 5 techniques for cleaning your oven racks so that you don’t have to fret over how to clean them and just focus on mustering up the chutzpah to actually do it.

- Give your oven racks a bath (yes, in the bathtub)

  • Lay an old towel (it’s going to get greasy) on the bottom of your tub. Lay your oven racks on top of the towel. (The towel will protect the bottom of your tub from getting scratched.)
  • Fill the tub with hot water until the oven racks (and towel) are completely submerged.
  • Add ¼ cup of dish soap such as Dawn (yes, that’s a lot of dish soap) to the tub.
    • Alternatively, you can use ¾ cups of laundry detergent.
    • If the racks are super gross, you can use white vinegar instead of soapy water and add some baking soda to the mix to cut grease and dissolve burnt-on food.
  • Let the racks soak overnight.
  • In the morning (after coffee, of course), scrub the racks with a soft bristle brush or an old rag.
    • For really stubborn stains, add salt to your scrubbing utensil for a more abrasive punch.
  • Rinse the racks with hot water to remove any residue from your cleaning agents.
  • Dry and replace the oven racks.

- Take it out to the yard

  • That’s right—it’s going to get messy. Take the oven racks outside and lay them in the yard.
  • Use hot water from the hose to rinse them off.
  • Create a mixture of hot water and degreasing dish soap. Grab a scrub pad, and get to work.
  • Scrub, rinse and repeat as needed. It may not be the least effort required on this list, but it can certainly work wonders.
  • Do a final rinse, and leave to dry on towels outside.
  • Wipe down with a clean kitchen towel before replacing the oven racks.

- Dryer sheets + dishwashing liquid

  • Once again, you can use your bathtub to soak the oven racks—or use a washtub or sink basin.
  • Fill your tub with super hot water, and add several generous squirts of dish soap (we like Dawn) to degrease.
  • Then add about 10 dryer sheets into the mix, and stir it around. The water should foam up. (If you’re not into wasting dryer sheets, used ones should suffice!)
  • Let this weird oven rack soup sit overnight.
  • Drain the water in the morning, and then use the wet dryer sheets to wipe any remaining residue from the oven racks. They should be shiny by now!
  • Rinse the oven racks thoroughly with warm water.
  • Dry off the oven racks, and replace them.

- Orange essential oil

  • Make a paste with baking soda, vinegar and a couple drops of orange essential oil. Orange essential oil has antimicrobial terpenes, which will help to clean the oven racks (plus it smells yummy!).
  • Stick your oven racks in the sink.
  • Use a damp sponge to apply the paste to the oven racks.
  • Let the paste sit on the oven racks for about 5–7 hours.
  • After the paste has set, scrub the oven racks with your sponge to remove any grease or food buildup.
  • Rinse the oven racks with warm water.
  • Dry thoroughly, and replace the racks.

- Ready-to-use oven cleaner

  • Always follow the instructions on the label of ready-made cleaners.
  • Remove the oven rack,s and clean them in a well-ventilated area, or even outside if the weather permits.
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Extra Durable works well for removing grease and burnt-on food from stovetops, and it ought to do the trick on your oven racks, too. Wet the oven racks first with warm water. Then just wet the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, wring it out to activate its cleaning agents and get to scrubbing those racks. Rinse when you’re done, dry and replace.
    • But do not use a Magic Eraser on stainless steel or metal with a nonstick coating or in combination with any other chemical cleaning agents!
  • With other commercial cleaning agents, you’ll typically spray the degreaser or oven cleaner directly onto the racks and let it sit for about 10 minutes before scrubbing with a brush or old rag.
  • Rinse the cleaning agent off thoroughly, and dry the racks before replacing them.

A few bonus tips for cleaning oven racks

  • For discolored oven racks, place racks in the sink, spritz them with white vinegar and sprinkle baking soda all over them. Watch the mixture fizz, and let it sit for several minutes until the grease dissolves. Then scrub the racks with a bristle brush, and wipe clean with a sponge soaked in dish soap and warm water.

    • Oven racks can become discolored if they’re left inside the oven during its self-cleaning oven function.
  • For tips to get baked-on messes off of sheet pans, baking sheets or pots and pans, we’ve got you covered.

  • So you cleaned your oven racks in the bathtub. Now you’ve got to clean the bathtub.

Enjoy your freshly cleaned oven racks (and bathtub!). Celebrate your victory by using some of your newly acquired cleaning tricks to also your stove burners.

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