How To: Clean Oven Racks

Ugh, is there anything worse than a dirty oven?

If you use the appliance at all, chances are that baked-on grease, sticky grime, and burnt bits are going to accumulate-maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday.

While many homeowners are lucky enough to enjoy a self-cleaning oven, that convenience comes with a consequence. Over time, the self-cleaning functionality ends up damaging the racks.

To prolong their life, it's recommended that, when possible, you clean oven racks the old-fashioned way.

Fortunately, by using any of the following methods for how to clean oven racks, you can get the job done quickly and with a minimum of hassle.

  1. Fill the tub with very hot water, just enough to cover the oven racks. Add up to 1/2 cup of dishwashing soap (or up to 3/4 cup laundry detergent). Let sit overnight.
  2. Alternatively: sprinkle baking soda over the oven racks, then douse them with vinegar. Once the foaming stops, submerge the racks in a tub of hot water and let sit overnight.
  3. In the morning, scrub the racks with an old dish towel to remove grease and grime, and use an old toothbrush to dislodge any baked-on grime. For really stubborn bits, add salt to the toothbrush to make the scrubbing more abrasive. Afterwards, rinse the racks thoroughly before returning them to the oven.
  1. Place oven racks into an unused trash bag. Add 1/2 quart of ammonia. Seal the bag and let sit overnight.
  2. Open the bag in the morning-and, while you're at it, open a window, too. Extra ventilation is needed for the ammonia fumes leftover from a night of cleaning oven racks. Rinse the racks thoroughly and replace.
  1. Because many commercial cleansers produce toxic fumes, clean oven racks outside if you plan on using one. Try a product like Carbona Biodegradable Oven Cleaner if you'd prefer using something non-toxic and eco-friendly.
  2. Cover a work surface with sheet plastic or newspaper. Lay down the oven racks in a single layer.
  3. Put on rubber gloves, then spray oven cleaner generously onto the racks. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
  4. Scrub the racks either with a rag or an old toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly with a garden hose before replacing.

It's a dirty job, but if in your household, you are the person responsible for the task of cleaning oven racks, take heart: It requires only a few common household items, several hours of soaking, and a little bit of elbow grease to get the job done.