How to Clean Oven Racks: 3 Easy Methods

How to Clean Oven Racks

Oven racks are the worst. They’re big, they’re awkward to handle, and they always seem to accumulate a layer of baked-on gunk that’s practically impossible to remove.  But unfortunately, if you let them get too disgusting, they can actually affect how your food cooks. So, as much as you might want to ignore the problem, sometimes you gotta bite the bullet and clean those suckers. If you’re wondering how to clean oven racks, here are three different methods, ranging from minimal effort to okay. I guess I’m actually going to try them. None of them are fun, but they should get the job done.

Importance of clean oven racks

Importance of clean oven racks

Cleaning oven racks isn’t fun.  But if you don’t do it occasionally, things go downhill fast. Grimy oven racks can make your food cook unevenly, so you end up with stuff that’s burnt in some spots and raw in others.  They can also make your whole oven less efficient, so it takes longer to cook anything. And, caked-on food gunk starts to smell, and you don’t want that weird flavor transferring to your fresh food.  Basically, cleaning oven racks isn’t the most exciting task, but skipping them will cause more problems than it solves.

Method 1: Bathtub Soak

Method 1 Bathtub Soak


  • Dish soap: The same kind you use for washing dishes.
  • Dryer sheets (optional): Might help loosen the gunk. Worth a try if you have some lying around.
  • Old towels: Unless you want scratched-up enamel in your bathtub.
  • Scrubbing sponge or brush: Don’t use anything too abrasive, or you’ll damage your bathtub.


  • Line your tub: Throw some old towels or rags in the bottom of the tub to protect it.
  • Make soapy water: Hot water from the tap, a squirt of dish soap. Don’t overthink it.
  • Soak: Dump the racks in the water and forget about them for a while. A few hours is good; overnight is even better if they’re truly disgusting.
  • Scrub: The soaking should have loosened things up, but you’ll probably still need to do some scrubbing to get all the gunk off.
  • Rinse and dry: Get all the soap and gunk off the racks, then dry them off with a towel. Nobody wants rusty oven racks.

Method 2: Baking Soda and Vinegar

Method 2 Baking Soda and Vinegar


  • Baking soda: It’s in your kitchen somewhere, hopefully.
  • White vinegar: The cleaning workhorse. Buy a big jug if you don’t have any.
  • Trash bag: Get a heavy-duty one, or you might end up with a mess.
  • Sponge or brush: Something to scrub with.


  • Goop it up: Mix baking soda with a splash of water to make a gross paste. Smear it on the oven racks. Let it dry a bit because otherwise, it’ll just slide off in the bag.
  • Bag it: Shove the oven racks into a trash bag. Pour in a bunch of vinegar – it’ll probably foam up but don’t worry, that’s normal.
  • Seal and wait: Tie the bag shut and try to forget about it for a few hours or overnight if your racks are super nasty.
  • Scrub and rinse: Open the bag (it might smell funky), scrub off whatever gunk is left, rinse the racks really well, and dry them off so they don’t get rusty.

Method 3: Commercial Oven Cleaner

Method 3 Commercial Oven Cleaner


  • Heavy-duty oven cleaner: That toxic spray that claims to dissolve even the most ancient baked-on grease.  Just try not to get any on your skin or breathe in the fumes too much.
  • Large trash bag: Oven cleaner fumes are nasty, so the trash bag helps contain the smell a little bit. It might not make a huge difference, but it’s better than nothing.
  • Protective gloves and eyewear: Because oven cleaner is seriously strong.
  • Sponge or brush: Something to scrub with once the oven cleaner has eaten through some of the gunk.


  • Safety first: Oven cleaner is serious stuff. Wear gloves, even if you think you’ll only be spraying for a second.  And open a window or do this outdoors – you don’t want to be breathing in those fumes.
  • Spray and seal: Shove the racks into a trash bag. Spray them down with oven cleaner. Try not to gag.  Seal the bag up tight.
  • Let it work: Walk away. Find something else to do for however long it takes the oven cleaner to do its thing. Don’t get curious and peek inside the bag unless you enjoy the feeling of your eyes burning.
  • Scrub and rinse: Once the time’s up, carefully open the bag (and try not to gag from the smell).  Give the racks a scrub to get any remaining gunk off, and then rinse them until your arms feel like they’re going to fall off. You really, really don’t want leftover oven cleaner chemicals baking into your next meal.

Tips for Scrubbing and Rinsing Racks

Tips for Scrubbing and Rinsing Racks
  • Choose the right tools: A regular sponge or dish brush is best for this. Steel wool can work in a pinch for seriously stuck-on crud, but be warned; it’s like playing with fire – one wrong move, and you’ve scratched the heck out of your oven racks. Use it sparingly and only if you’re desperate!
  • Focus on crevices: The corners and joints of the rack are where the worst gunk likes to hide. Get in there and scrub.
  • Rinse thoroughly: You want ALL of the soap (or oven cleaner residue) off those racks. Leftover cleaning chemicals will smell bad and could get into your food the next time you use the oven.
  • Dry completely: Nobody wants rusty oven racks, so dry them off with a towel before putting them back in the oven.

Safety Precautions

Safety Precautions
  • Protect your skin: Gloves are a good idea unless you enjoy having dry, cracked hands from the dish soap (or worse, chemical burns from the oven cleaner).
  • Ventilate well: Nobody wants to pass out from cleaning product fumes. Open a window or go outside, especially if you’re using that heavy-duty oven cleaner.
  • Watch for chemicals: Oven cleaner isn’t something you want to mess around with. If it gets on your skin, wash it off immediately.
  • Be careful with steel wool: It’ll get the gunk off, but it might also leave scratches all over your oven racks. Use it as a last resort.
  • Handle with care: Oven racks are heavy and awkward. Try not to drop one on your toe or wrench your back, trying to wrestle them into the bathtub.

Conclusion: Enjoy sparkling clean oven racks

Cleaning oven racks is messy; it takes a bit of effort, and it’s the kind of chore you’ll find any excuse to avoid. But letting your oven racks get completely disgusting is a bad idea. It affects how your food cooks and it can make your whole kitchen smell gross. They help your food cook evenly, they keep your kitchen from smelling like burnt grease, and they’re just generally more pleasant to be around. So, while it might not be the most exciting task, taking a little time to tackle those racks will save you bigger headaches later. Hopefully, with the methods outlined in this article, the process is at least slightly less painful.


Can I use oven cleaner to clean oven racks?

Yes, but be prepared for some seriously strong fumes. Read the instructions on the oven cleaner carefully, work in a well-ventilated area (preferably outside), and make sure to rinse those racks multiple times afterwards to get rid of all the chemical residue.

Can I put oven racks in the dishwasher?

Maybe. Check the instructions that came with your oven to be sure. Dishwashers can be tough on oven racks, so even if yours says it’s dishwasher safe, hand washing is often gentler and helps them last longer.

How often should I clean my oven racks?

Ideally, every few months or at least once or twice a year. But most people only do it when they start to look so disgusting that it’s embarrassing. The longer you wait, the harder the gunk will be to get off, so try not to let them get too bad.

What’s the easiest way to clean oven racks?

There’s no way that’s super easy. But usually, one of the soaking methods is the least painful. Soaking in hot water with either dish soap or a baking soda/vinegar mixture will loosen a lot of the gunk, making the scrubbing part a little less awful.

Can I use a pressure washer to clean oven racks?

You could, but it’s a recipe for disaster. Pressure washers are great for some things, but cleaning oven racks isn’t one of them. You’ll probably end up with dented racks and a grease-splattered kitchen. Trust me, soaking and scrubbing is a lot less messy.

Can I use regular dish soap to clean oven racks?

Yes! Dish soap is where you should start. Hot water and a decent dish soap will get you surprisingly far. If you have really stubborn, baked-on gunk, you might need to bust out the heavy-duty stuff later, but dish soap is a good first line of defense.

Do I need any special tools to clean my oven racks?

Not really. Gloves are a must because nobody wants dishpan hands (or worse, oven cleaner burns). A scrub brush can be helpful for tough spots, and you’ll need something big enough to soak the racks in. Your bathtub will work; just put down some old towels so you don’t scratch it up.

What is the best cleaning solution for tough grease on oven racks?

Baking soda and vinegar work surprisingly well for a lot of baked-on grease. If that doesn’t cut it, you might have to resort to the heavy-duty oven cleaner (but remember fumes!).

How long does it take to clean oven racks?

It depends on how bad they are and which method you use. But don’t expect it to be quick.

Is it necessary to remove the oven door when cleaning the racks?

Nope. Just pull the racks out and clean them individually.

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