The Easiest Ways To Clean Your Oven Racks

Almost everyone hates the job of cleaning the oven, even if you have a self-cleaning oven. According to Molly Maid, you still need to take the racks out if you have a self-cleaning function on your oven, as otherwise the racks and broker pan can become damaged from the high temperatures of heat used in the cycle. Essentially, this means you'll still need to clean your oven racks separately. According to Optima Cleaners, keeping the oven clean is important to prolonging its lifespan. The heating elements inside can become damaged and unsafe. Additionally, the food you cook will cook more evenly and thoroughly if you clean your oven regularly. It's also important for preventing burnt-on food from contaminating the next great recipe you pop into it!

One good tip to keep in mind when you tackle this chore, regardless of the method of cleaning you choose, is to dry the oven and racks completely when finished. This will prevent rust and keep the finish intact. Another helpful tip for afterward is to line the oven and racks with aluminum foil before cooking anything, so you can clean up any spills by simply removing the foil. You can also spray the oven racks with cooking spray, which will keep food spills from sticking to them. These things will make cleaning your oven and oven racks simpler. Keep reading for some of the easiest ways to clean your oven racks.

Dryer sheets and Dawn dishwashing soap

According to Lynsey Crombie, star of "This Morning" and known as the "Queen of Clean," one of the easiest ways to clean oven racks is using dryer sheets and Dawn dishwashing soap, in a bathtub or basin where you can fit the racks. Fill the tub with just enough warm water to immerse, but not cover the tops of, the racks. Add about ¼ cup of Dawn dishwashing soap, the best kind for fighting baked-on grease. Then take a stack of Bounce or other dryer sheets and place them soaking on top of the racks, covering the entire surface area. Leave to soak for several hours or overnight.

Then, drain the water and take a few of the sheets and squeeze out the excess soapy water. Use the sheets as a sponge and scrub the racks well. It shouldn't be too hard to get the baked-on goodies to wipe clean. If anything is left, however, try an exfoliating glove so you can really use your hands and fingers to get into all the nooks and crannies of the racks easily. Rinse and dry the racks before inserting them back in the oven. This is an amazing method that works really well, and the racks come out looking sparkling clean.

Aluminum foil and dishwasher tablets

According to Ask About APPS, there's an easy way to clean oven racks using aluminum foil, hot water, and dishwasher tablets. Though it does sound a little strange, in this method it's believed that the aluminum foil has a reaction with the dishwasher tablets that helps the cleaning process along. First, you fill your bathtub with enough hot water to immerse the oven racks. Take each rack and wrap it in the aluminum foil individually, then stack them together or set them side by side in the tub of hot water. Throw a dishwasher tablet on top of each rack, or two of them on top of two stacked racks.

Then you wait at least two hours while they soak in the mixture. Don't worry; the solution will penetrate the tin foil and racks. The idea is not to keep them from getting wet, but rather to promote a reaction between the foil and the tablets (per 7 News). In any case, you should only have to wipe them down with a clean cloth afterward to make the oven racks look shiny, clean, and new again. This method saves a lot of time and elbow grease and definitely looks like it's worth a try.

Essential oils

Cleaning your oven and racks can be done with an all-natural DIY oven cleaner made from a cleaning paste made from baking soda, hot water, and essential oils (via One Essential Community). The first step is to make a paste using 1-½ cups of baking soda and about ½ cup of hot water, adding more if necessary to get to the right consistency. Add 10 drops of your favorite citrus essential oil and 5 drops of pine essential oil or tea tree oil. Some of the best citrus oils for cleaning baked-on crud and grease from the oven are lemon, orange, lime, or even grapefruit. This DIY recipe should be enough to clean your entire oven, racks included. If you need more, however, simply whip up another batch!

Remove the racks and soak them in hot, soapy water while you clean the inside of the oven. Be sure to stir the mixture occasionally as you go, keeping it fresh and at the right consistency. You can use a toothbrush to scrub the paste into the racks well. Get a spray bottle and fill it up with white vinegar. Spray the entire surface area of the racks until you see a foam spring up from the reaction between the baking soda and the vinegar. Let it sit for about an hour before using a sponge and warm water to scrub away all the remaining grime and residue. Rinse well and dry completely before re-inserting the racks.

Baking soda and vinegar

According to Oven Clean, this method is easy on the pocketbook and also utilizes the same reaction mentioned in the last idea involving essential oils. But with this easy way to clean your oven racks, after dipping them in hot, soapy water, you simply sprinkle the baking soda all over the surface of the racks. Then you get a vinegar spray bottle and spray the racks until they foam up. After they stop foaming, soak them in the tub with the hot, soapy water for another few hours. Once this is done, just take a sponge or clean cloth to scrub away the grime. Rinse and dry thoroughly before replacing them in the oven.

Some people like using a Magic Eraser in the extra durable formula for the "sponge" part of cleaning oven racks, but this is totally a personal preference. The extra durable product is made for burnt-on grease and grime, and the cloth is made not to fall apart as easily as the regular version. Whatever you decide, the baking soda and vinegar method is quite popular and seems to be an easy, chemical-free way to clean oven racks.

Trash bag and ammonia

This method uses a big plastic trash bag and a mix of ammonia and water, per Thrifty Fun. It's advised not to use any more than half water, and you can even use straight ammonia as long as you don't leave them soaking too long. Sometimes, people have experienced discoloration by using straight ammonia and soaking racks longer than overnight, so diluting the solution is probably the best idea. In any case, put the dirty oven racks inside the trash bag and add enough ammonia and water to create a mixture that will cover the racks completely when laid flat.

Tie the bag shut tightly so none of the liquid can escape when you lay them down, and let them soak somewhere outside, preferably overnight. You don't want the fumes inside the house. In the morning, retrieve the bag and remove the racks. Take a sponge and scrub away any remaining material on them with ease. The ammonia will work wonders on the dried-on food without requiring much effort to wipe clean afterward. Of course, be sure to rinse and dry them well.

Bar Keeper's Friend

There's a pretty neat product called Bar Keeper's Friend that works great for all kinds of things around the house, even oven racks. The first thing you're going to want to do is make a paste from the Bar Keeper's Friend Powder Cleanser and water. Get the rack wet first, and put some of the paste on a sponge or even a toothbrush. Spread it all over the rack so it's completely covered. The great thing about this method is that you only have to wait about a minute or two! A scouring pad can be used afterward to scrub them down, and then rinse them thoroughly. You shouldn't have to use much elbow grease for the racks to come sparkling clean.

This is probably one of the fastest and easiest ways to clean your oven racks, as there's no overnight soaking necessary. Alternatively, you can just sprinkle the powder cleanser over the wet racks, wait one minute, and then scrub them down. What could be easier than that? You can repeat the steps if necessary, just in case the first round still leaves anything behind. There are no harmful fumes to worry about as long as you've rinsed all the racks well. As an added precaution, you can turn the oven on to about 400°F for about ten minutes to "cook off" any remaining fumes. Incidentally, you can use this product for the entire oven!

Easy-Off and plastic

If you don't mind using an oven cleaner, one of the most famous ones is Easy-Off, and this method uses the fume-free version (via Abbotts At Home). It's super easy and because it's fume-free, cleaning the oven racks can be done inside or outside. We'll talk about the outdoor method first. Take a giant black garbage bag or two and spread them out on the ground or on a large table. Spray the oven cleaner on, covering both sides of the racks with the product. Leave it on for about 20 minutes, then take a scouring pad and go over the surface area. When finished, you can simply take the garden hose and rinse them off thoroughly. You can then just let them dry in the sun or towel them off, before replacing them in the oven.

According to Jubara, the inside version is a little different but still uses fume-free Easy-Off. However, instead of plastic garbage bags, you'll need some plain old plastic wrap. Just take the racks and put them in the tub while spraying them down. Then wrap each rack up completely with the plastic wrap to keep the moisture in. Let them sit overnight, and in the morning unwrap them and use a scouring pad to wipe down any remaining grime. Rinse well in the tub, and allow to dry completely. As you can see, both of these versions are fairly simple.

Dishwasher tablets and a towel

According to 3N Family Fun, this method is slightly different from the aluminum foil and dishwasher tablets version we discussed previously. First, you lay a bath towel down, either in the bathtub or in a large plastic bin. Run enough hot water to cover the racks and then place them on the towel. Next, you're going to drop four or five dishwasher pods into the tub and swish them around with your hand in the water. Leave the racks to soak overnight, or for at least five hours. You can either use a clean rag or a sponge to wipe them down afterward.

The racks should wipe clean with ease, and you can rinse them with plenty of warm water when finished. The method seems to be a popular one, and this foil-less version seems to work well too. However, you do need quite a few more dishwasher tablets. Try it both ways to see which one works better. Though they have some minor differences, each version seems to get the job done effectively.

Laundry detergent and Dawn dishwashing soap

According to Clean Freak & Germophobe, you can also use about ½ cup of laundry detergent or dishwasher detergent and ¼ cup of Dawn dishwashing soap. You're going to add these two ingredients to a bathtub with about three inches of very hot water in it. Lay a towel down first, along with the oven racks on top. Once you've added the soaps to the water, agitate with your hand until the powder is mostly dissolved. Let the oven racks sit in the mixture for at least eight hours or overnight. Then you can use a scrubbing sponge or steel wool scouring pad to scrub the racks down. As always, rinse them well and allow them to dry before replacing them in your oven.

This mixture works well because the two different cleaners are able to break down the grease and dried-on foods that seem to bond to oven racks like glue! Almost every method for cleaning them requires an overnight soaking due to this buildup that's nearly impossible to remove otherwise. This will make short work of an otherwise labor-intensive process that most of us have a strong tendency to put off.

A pumice stone

You can use a pumice stone quite effectively to clean both your oven and its racks, per The Kitchn. In fact, all you need is a little warm water and a pumice stone. You can find a handy version with a handle on it, technically for cleaning toilet bowl ring stains, at Ace Hardware for $8.99. Or you can get a regular one even cheaper at Walmart for $1.98. You've probably heard about the pumice stone for use on calluses and rough spots on your feet. But these scouring sticks are made especially for cleaning purposes and they just might be the most underrated secret tool in your cleaning toolbox!

Once you try one of these amazing scouring stones and see what they can do, you're going to want to use it on all kinds of household items. Take a bowl of warm water and the pumice stone and just scrub all parts of the oven racks, rinsing often. As you go, you'll see how it will easily mold itself to the shape you need, and you don't even have to use much effort. It's best to do this in the bathtub or sink as you will make a bit of a mess before you're through. When finished, you can take a spray bottle with vinegar and spray the racks down, followed by some warm water. And incidentally, you can use the stone to clean your entire oven and it won't scratch the finish. Hopefully, you can try these methods and find the easiest ways to clean your oven racks!