Nothing puts a damper on baking that exciting, new casserole recipe like a dirty oven with crusty food, grease, and grime sticking to its racks.

While using the self-cleaning cycle on your oven may be tempting, the self-cleaning cycle can damage your oven over time and even tarnish and reduce the shine of your racks. The self-cleaning cycle uses temperatures double to triple the amount you’d typically use for cooking, which can discolor and damage the coating. As a result, cleaning the oven racks by hand is advised to keep your appliance and oven racks nicer longer.

However, cleaning the oven racks can take a lot of time and, often, harsh chemicals. Here are our top nine quick and easy ways to clean oven racks, helpful hacks, and DIY recipes to make the job quicker.

close-up photo of a dirty oven
Image Source: Canva

1. The Baking Soda and Vinegar Method

Place your oven racks in a large sink or bathtub for this method. Dust the racks with baking soda, then douse them with white vinegar. This combination will create a white foam.

Once the foaming slows, place the oven trays in warm water and allow them to sit overnight in the water. The following morning, take a clean cloth or dish towel and wipe away the grease and grime. If any stubborn grease remains, use a kitchen scrubber.

2. The Dryer Sheet Method

While this method may sound strange, many people swear by it and claim it’s an effective way to deal with grubby oven racks.

Remove the oven racks from the oven. Line the bottom of a large sink or bathtub with tumble dryer sheets and place the racks on top. Fill the bathtub or sink with hot water until the racks are covered, then add a half cup of dish soap. The dish soap acts as a degreaser, helping reduce the racks’ griminess.

Let the racks soak overnight, drain the bathtub, and wipe the racks down using the dryer sheets. If any debris remains, use a toothbrush to scrub those areas. After the racks are completely clean, rinse them and dry them with a soft, clean cloth before placing them back into the oven.

3. The Detergent Cleaning Method

Remove the racks from the oven and place them in a bathtub lined with an old towel. Add hot water to the bathtub until the racks are covered, then pour up to ¾ cup of laundry detergent or ½ cup of dishwashing soap or dishwasher detergent into the tub.

Allow the racks to sit overnight, then scrub the racks with the old towel to remove the dissolved gunk and grease. Use an old toothbrush to remove any stubborn food residue. If the buildup refuses to budge, add salt to the toothbrush to increase its abrasiveness or use a non-scratch scrubbing pad.

Rinse the oven racks thoroughly before placing them back in the oven.

4. Cleaning Oven Racks with Bar Keepers Friend and Water

Bar Keepers Friend is an original powder-formula cleaner created from oxalic acid, a mineral abrasive, a water-softening agent, and a surfactant. As a result, it’s a fantastic easy-off product for deep cleaning surfaces with baked-on food particles.

Remove the oven racks from the oven and place them into the kitchen sink. If your kitchen sink isn’t scratch-resistant, line it with old towels first. Then, spray the oven racks with water and grab a scrubber pad or sponge.

Create a paste with the Bar Keepers Friend product following the directions on the back. Apply the Bar Keepers Friend paste to the racks and scour gently to remove baked-on grease and food. Rinse the racks with fresh water and return to the oven.

5. Cleaning With Commercial Oven Cleaners

Many commercial oven cleaners are effective but smelly. As a result, we recommend cleaning your oven racks outside or in a well-ventilated area if you plan on using commercial oven cleaners.

Always follow the instructions on a commercial oven cleaner’s label carefully before beginning. Remove the oven racks and place in a single layer on a kitchen counter or table outside covered in newspaper, an old towel, or sheet plastic.

Wear rubber gloves and spray the oven cleaner thoroughly onto the racks. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or as long as the manufacturer’s label recommends. Then, scrub the oven racks with an old toothbrush or rag. Rinse with a garden hose or kitchen faucet before returning the oven racks to the oven.

6. The Trash Bag and Ammonia Method

This method can be hazardous if not done in a well-ventilated area, as ammonia fumes aren’t safe to inhale. However, this method is mess-free and effective when done correctly.

Take a garbage bag and place your racks inside it. Pour half a quart of ammonia and tie the bag tightly. Double bag the oven racks if you’re concerned about the bag leaking overnight. The oven racks don’t have to be covered by ammonia because the gas within the bag will help to dissolve the grease.

Tightly seal the trash bags and place them outside overnight. Do not leave them inside your house in case the hazardous fumes leak out of the bag.

The following morning, open the trash bag after donning rubber gloves and goggles outside or in a well-ventilated area. Remove the oven racks from the bag and rinse them with a dishwashing liquid and water. The grease and food particles should quickly come off the racks as you rinse. Return the oven racks to the oven after drying.

While this method is effective, it can be risky as ammonia is unsafe to breathe. Ammonia can also harm your skin and clothing, so be careful when handling it.

7. Clean Oven Racks with Aluminum Foil

This method is similar to the dryer sheets method. Remove the oven racks and wrap them in aluminum foil. Then, place the racks into a bathtub lined with an old towel.

Add several dishwasher tablets and cover the oven racks with hot water. Leave them to soak overnight. In the morning, unwrap the oven racks and wipe them with a soft cloth. Rinse the racks with clean water, dry them with a soft cloth, and return them to the oven.

8. Use Your Dishwasher

Oven racks are typically dishwasher safe, so if you have a dishwasher, this can be a time-saving, easy way to clean your oven racks. However, before attempting this method, you’ll need to check that your oven racks are dishwasher safe.

If they are, run them in the dishwasher on a heavy-duty cycle. Avoid filling up the rest of the dishwasher so that the oven racks are the primary focus during the cleaning cycle.

Please note that you’ll still need to scrub stubborn residue and grease with a non-scratch scouring pad and soapy water after the cleaning cycle is complete. Afterward, wipe the oven racks with a dry cloth before returning them to the oven.

9. Clean the Oven Racks with Orange Essential Oil

Orange essential oil is a natural and refreshing way to clean your oven racks. Take a small glass bowl and create a paste from vinegar, baking soda, and a couple of drops of orange essential oil. Orange essential oil is a powerful antimicrobial agent, making it an excellent choice for cleaning.

Place your oven racks over the sink and use a damp sponge to apply the thick paste to the racks. Allow the racks to sit with the paste for six to eight hours, then scrub gently to remove grime and residue. Rinse, dry, and return to the oven.

homeowner cleaning oven racks with gloves
Image Source: Canva

Final Thoughts

A clean oven makes cooking and baking easier and prevents a burnt smell. We hope our oven rack cleaning tips and DIY cleaning solutions make the task quick and easy so that you can enjoy a clean oven every time you cook. Remember that cleaning food spills as you go (once the oven is cool) will be the most significant time-saver for keeping your oven racks clean.

Editorial Contributors
Amy DeYoung

Amy DeYoung


Amy DeYoung has a passion for educating and motivating homeowners to improve their lives through home improvement projects and preventative measures. She is a content writer specializing in pest control, moving, window, and lawn/gardening content for Today’s Homeowner. Amy utilizes her own experience within the pest control and real estate industry to educate readers. She studied business, communications, and writing at Arizona State University.

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Lora Novak

Senior Editor

Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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