How to Clean Oven Racks – Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Oven Racks

Learning how to clean oven racks effectively can save you a lot of time. The kitchen is the heart of every home and the oven is its star player. You use the oven to bake cookies for loved ones and cook favorite family recipes. While the inside of the oven isn’t visible to everyone, it’s very important to keep it clean. Over time, grease build-up and grime will cover your oven racks and a quick wipe down won’t be able to remove all of the gunk in a dirty oven.

While many are self-cleaning ovens, we’ve found that the self-cleaning cycle on most ovens uses high temperatures to burn off all of the build-up, which takes a long time to run and often leaves a bad smell in the air.

Like cleaning furniture and flooring, cleaning a dirty oven can seem daunting. Luckily, there are many oven cleaners out there and a variety of methods to clean oven racks. We’ve gathered some tried and true cleaners and methods to help you clean oven racks with minimal fuss.

Before you get started with our guide on how to clean oven racks, it’s important to note that all the ways listed below on how to clean oven racks do NOT require your oven to be on. Make sure your oven is off when you clean oven racks!

Oven racks prior to cleaning. Burnt on gunk and grime can be seen covering the racks. 

How to Clean Oven Racks – The Method


The first step in our how to clean oven racks method is soaking.

Perhaps the easiest way to clean your oven racks efficiently is to give them a hot water bath! As long as you have a bathtub, some old towels and dishwasher detergent, you’re all set. Follow these steps to soak and clean your oven racks:

  1. Put an old towel or two on the bottom of the tub to prevent scratches.
  2. Fill your tub with hot water. You won’t need too much hot water, just enough to fully submerge the oven racks. Add 1/2 a cup of dishwasher detergent and mix it into the water. It doesn’t matter if you add powdered or liquid, just use what you have.
  3. Remove racks from your oven and put them into the tub.
  4. You can also put dryer sheets in the mix (yes, dryer sheets!). The antistatic properties of dryer sheets help soften the bonds holding the food particles to the racks
  5. Now you just have to wait! Let sit for a few hours. It’s best to do this in the evening and let the dirty oven racks sit overnight, well-soaked. As long as you let the racks soak for at least six hours, they should be ready to wipe clean after soaking.
  6. After they’re done soaking, rinse them off and use an old rag to clean them up. One thing we found especially helpful if there was a lot of dried on gunk and grease buildup was to use a stainless steel scouring pad. You shouldn’t need to scrub too hard after soaking for so long, but if your oven racks were very dirty, a stainless steel scouring pad will help get all the gunk off. Dry off the racks before returning them to the oven.

An oven rack sits and soaks in a bathtub filled with hot water and dishwashing detergent.

Commercial Oven Cleaner

Another method is to coat your oven racks with an oven cleaner. Many oven cleaning products found in stores use harsh chemicals that leave a strong, unpleasant smell. Not only do these products smell bad, but they can be harmful to your health. When you’re cleaning a space that cooks food, such as the inside of your oven, you don’t want a strong smell left lingering.

However, there are definitely some good, natural oven cleaners, such as Method’s Heavy Duty Degreaser, that can clean not only your oven racks, but the inside of your oven and stove top, too.

Another effective fume free cleaner is the Easy Off Fume Free cleaner, which is also very effective and cleans without any harsh fumes.

DIY Oven Cleaner

We’ve found that DIY cleaners for oven racks can work just as well compared to store bought cleaners. There are a few DIY mixtures that we found to be especially efficient in cleaning oven racks. The good news is that the recipes call for common ingredients you should already have in your kitchen so there’s no need to go to the store and spend money.

Oven Cleaner Mixture Number One: Baking Soda and Water

The first mixture is simply 3 tablespoons of baking soda mixed with 1.5 tablespoons of water.

Oven Cleaner Mixture Number Two: Baking Soda, Hydrogen Peroxide and Dish Soap

The second mixture is 3 tablespoons of baking soda, mixed with 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide and 1 tablespoon of dish soap

No matter what recipe you decide on, the following steps will be the same. They both provided great results. The first mixture requires one less ingredient but the second mixture was a bit easier to work with. For a natural clean scent, add a few drops of an essential oil, such as lemon, to the mixture to leave your kitchen smelling fresh!

  1. Mix the ingredients in a bowl until a spreadable paste forms.
  2. Lay out old newspapers, towels or a trash bag on a flat surface, such as a kitchen floor or counter.
  3. Spread the mixture all over the racks using either a paintbrush, spoon or your hands. Using your hands is perhaps the most efficient way, But grease build up and grime will threaten to stain your hands, clothing and anything you touch. A pair of rubber kitchen gloves will keep your hands clean and ensure that your kitchen stays clean.
  4. Let sit on your oven racks for about six hours. Then wipe clean with a damp cloth or rinse off completely in the sink or a bathtub. You can use a stainless steel scouring pad here too on especially dried on gunk on your oven racks. Dry the racks off before returning them to your oven.
  5. If you’re using a store-bought cleaner, you can still follow most of these steps. Lay out your oven racks on a towel or old newspapers and then simply spray down your oven racks and follow the directions on the bottle for the rest of the steps.
  6. You can also use dryer sheets to wipe down the racks

An oven rack is coated with a DIY mixture of baking soda and water. A stainless steel scouring pad helps take off dried on, burnt gunk.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

First coat your oven racks with vinegar. Then add baking soda liberally, and let sit for a few hours before wiping off with water.

Ammonia Trash Bags

This is another method that can work well, albeit slightly dangerous if not executed properly. Put your dirty oven racks in a large trash bag (check that there are no holes). Add half a quart of ammonia, then tie your bag tightly (make sure the fumes will not leak) and let sit overnight. The ammonia fumes will circulate and clean your racks.

The next morning, make sure to wear safety goggles and gloves, then find a well-ventilated area to open the trash bags, and spray down the racks with water. The grease will come right off easily.

Additional Tips – How to Clean Oven Racks Effectively

Clean oven rack after applying a DIY mixture of baking soda and water. 

An easy way to avoid spills in the first place is to simply cover the oven racks with aluminum foil. This way any drippings from casseroles or pizza will fall onto the foil and you can easily remove and replace the foil as needed.

How often you will need to clean your oven will vary depending on how often you use it and the type of things you cook. If you only use it a few times a month, a good deep clean several times a year should do the trick.

If you often use your oven and tend to cook things that can get messy, such as cheesy pizzas or bubbling casseroles, you might be dealing with messes more often. If your oven starts smoking due to grease build up and burnt gunk, you should try to clean it as needed.

Hope this guide on how to clean oven racks was helpful. With these easy methods and simple DIY cleaners, you should have a sparking oven in no time. Happy baking!