How to Clean Oven Racks: Step By Step Guide

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Oven racks are perhaps one of the most neglected areas of the kitchen, mostly because they are not in plain sight. We remember to clean the counters, floors, and cook tops, but forget that bacteria build-up could reside in the oven and cause health risks to you and your loved ones. Hence the need to know how to effectively clean oven racks.

Is Cleaning Over Racks Easy?

The task is not a simple one. Just take a look at this filthy oven rack:

dirty oven rack

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How do you even begin to clean such an oven rack? Do you know if it will fit in a sink, or should you clean it in a bath tub? Making discolored oven racks shiny is not an easy task, but we will try to outline simple steps for you to follow.

How to Fix Your Oven When the Oven Racks are Too Small - Flamingo Appliance  Service

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What You Need to Clean Oven Racks

What you need to clean oven racks - some of the necessary cleaning materials

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  • Oven and Grill Cleaner. Kitchen degreasers break down stubborn grease and work effectively on baked-on food and grime in cooking pots, pans, oven trays, and racks.
  • Microfiber cleaning cloth. You will need a good, washable, and recyclable microfiber cleaning cloth that is non-abrasive on your oven racks.
  • Non-stick oven protector mat. These oven guards have a nonstick coating and are placed below oven racks protecting the oven’s surface from oil spills and food debris. Furthermore, they are lightweight enough to be washed in the dishwasher.
  • Deep clean brushes. You will need a deep clean brush set that is perfect for those really tough stains, such as food build-up and baked-on grease. These brushes will also be extremely helpful in reaching your oven rack’s corners.
  • Microwave/ Oven steam cleaner. Before you start cleaning your oven racks, a steam cleaner will clean the crud and all the dirty goo in your oven.

How to Clean Oven Racks Easily and Spotlessly

The big question here is: Why not just settle for the self-cleaning setting found in self-cleaning ovens instead of manually cleaning oven racks? The former works by using temperature and steam to clean the oven’s interior. Yet, in some ways, it may come at a cost.

The fumes released during cleaning may be harmful to humans and pets if inhaled for long periods of time. In addition, the oven’s interior parts may be compromised after cleaning and may not work as effectively as before.

This is why most people prefer to physically clean oven racks and wipe down the oven’s interior than rely on a self-cleaning oven. Cleaning your oven racks periodically also makes it easier for the oven to self-clean itself.

The following steps are our recommendations on how to clean oven racks easily:

1. Remove the racks from the oven

It is easier to clean oven racks if they are out of the oven, as you will have more access to all parts. Since they collect so much grime over time, cleaning them while still in the oven may not ensure spotless cleaning. Furthermore, oven racks come with numerous crevices that you can only get to if you clean them in their entirety.

Oven Rack Placement: How to Use Oven Racks

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For this, ensure that the racks are cold. It is not advisable to clean them immediately after a baking session. Let them cool for a while.

2. Prepare the Cleaning Materials

You will need an area large enough to lay down the oven racks, such as a bathtub or backyard. Your kitchen sink may not be ideal for this as it may inhibit the scrubbing and soaking process. The bathtub should be filled with the cleaning solution so the racks soak overnight before scrubbing. Since the cleaning products may affect the bathtub’s surface, you may place an old towel under the rack.

For the cleaning supplies, you’ll need:

3. The Cleaning Process

Commercial oven cleaners get the work done and can be used in place of homemade oven cleaners. However, the former is mostly used for industrial ovens, such as ovens found in restaurants and institutions.

To make a homemade oven cleaner, mix baking soda with warm water to form a paste, then rub this on every part of the oven racks. Baking soda is an alkali that allows grease to dissolve in water easier, making it removable on surfaces. When mixed with dish soap, it becomes an effective grease remover, perfect for your surfaces.

Pour some vinegar into the spray bottle and spray the racks. Ensure that all surfaces of the rack are touched by the vinegar. You’ll see a chemical reaction taking place in the form of foams. Once that subsides, we recommend that you soak oven racks in a bathtub full of hot water. Again, ensure that all parts of the rack are submerged.

Best Way to Clean Oven Racks - Showdown

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Leave the racks in the bathtub to sit overnight in the solution. After this, scrub lightly using a non-scratch sponge to ensure all the grease and debris completely fall off. Wipe clean the surfaces using a damp sponge to remove all forms of dirt such as stubborn food particles. For more stubborn stains, use a soft bristle brush to gently scrub the oven grates.

Scrubbing oven racks with scouring pad

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Rinse the racks thoroughly under running water to ensure they are shiny. Once this is done, wipe them dry using dryer sheets or paper towels and pop them back into the oven.

Important Factors to Consider While Cleaning Oven Racks

Before you start cleaning dirty oven racks, please check for the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations. One, it may save you the time you could have spent researching, and two, it could save on money wasted repairing if your oven rack cleaning option goes south.

Some oven racks should only be soaked for a few hours and may actually rust if left to soak overnight. Additionally, some racks should not be cleaned using certain cleaning products, as clearly stated in the oven’s manual. So, it’s important to read your oven’s guide and follow its recommendations.

While dealing with cleaning products, it is imperative to wear protective gear such as rubber gloves to protect your skin from sensitive chemicals. Also, if the oven racks are hot, remove them from the oven using oven mitts.

Cleaning an oven thoroughly with protective gear on, such as rubber gloves

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There is a way to make future clean-ups easier for you. You can place aluminum foil or any oven liner of choice at the oven’s bottom to catch any oil drips and debris. This ensures that there is little food buildup saving you time and energy in your next cleaning cycle.

Now that you know how to clean oven racks and the products that will help you achieve this task, you are not in danger of any harmful pollutants and gases causing you to be sick. And even better, you get to enjoy the unadulterated flavors of your baked foods.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How Do You Get Baked on Grease off Oven Racks?

You will need to make a cleaning solution of detergent, hot water and baking soda. This solution will lift off baked-on grease from oven racks faster and easier, making them cleaner. You can also use oven cleaners or ammonia. For the latter, place your oven racks in a large bag with half a cup of ammonia. The ammonia fumes will help remove baked-on grease.

2. What Is the Safest Way to Clean Oven Racks?

For this, use environment-friendly and non-toxic materials such as natural cleaning materials, such as baking soda and vinegar. You should also wear gloves to protect your hands. If you are using manufactured oven cleaners, ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for ultimate safety.

3. What Are the Best Things to Clean Oven Racks?

The best cleaning materials include vinegar, baking soda, dishwasher detergent or any dish soap, and hot water. Ammonia and commercial oven cleaners can also be used to clean your oven racks.

4. How Do You Clean Oven Racks Without Baking Soda?

You can use dish soap and hot water, ammonia, vinegar, and oven cleaners. This will suffice, alongside scrubbing with scouring pads and wiping clean with a dry towel. You can also clean your oven racks in a dishwasher since most oven racks are dishwasher-safe. Confirm that your specific brand is dishwasher-safe beforehand.

5. What Is the Easiest and Fastest Way to Clean Oven Racks?

While this may seem biased, a commercial oven cleaner is perhaps the easiest way to clean oven racks. It is a pre-made solution of cleaning products which guarantees your oven racks’ cleanliness. This is also faster than actually mixing these products for yourself.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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