6 No-Sweat Tips for Cleaning Oven Racks

How to Clean Oven Racks

When you regularly use your oven for roasting, baking and grilling, it does not take long for it to get dirty. Cleaning a dirty oven is often a dreaded chore, especially when the oven racks are full of grime and grease. It is important to keep oven racks clean, otherwise buildups can occur.

Some owners have self-cleaning ovens but using this function may damage the racks over time. They have a shiny protective layer that facilitates smooth sliding, and self-cleaning can damage this layer. To prolong the life of oven racks, here are some simple and practical techniques that help make the task easier. That’s right, knowing how to clean oven racks doesn’t have to be stressful!

Cleaning Materials

The cleaning materials required for four of these cleaning methods are all common household items, including:

  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Dryer sheets
  • Dishwasher powder or tablet
  • Aluminum foil
  • Old towels
  • Non-abrasive scrubbing brush or sponge
  • Old toothbrush

The final two methods involve using ammonia and commercial oven cleaners, which are effective but release toxic fumes. You must be careful not to inhale the fumes when using these methods. For these methods you’ll need:

  • Ammonia
  • Commercial oven cleaner
  • Gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Unused garbage bag
  • Trash can
  • Old newspapers

Cleaning Methods

Here are some different cleaning methods, four of which require the use of a bathtub. Soaking the oven racks in the bathtub helps soften up all the accumulated grime, making it easier to gently wipe off. The final two methods require care, because you have to be careful not to inhale the toxic fumes.

Baking Soda

Place old towels in the bathtub so it will not be scratched by the oven racks. Lay the oven racks on the towels and sprinkle them with baking soda. Add hot water to cover the racks and leave them overnight.

Baking powder is a common, inexpensive household ingredient. It cleans effectively without damaging metal surfaces and helps to break down stains, food proteins, and grease.

Scrub the racks the next morning with a non-abrasive brush or sponge to remove the grime and grease. Use an old toothbrush to dislodge any baked-on food in the corners. If any spots are really stubborn, add some kosher salt as an abrasive. Rinse the racks thoroughly and dry them before putting them back in the oven.

Many people recommend using vinegar with baking powder. When you pour vinegar over baking powder, it causes a fizzy reaction that fools people into thinking cleaning power is being unleashed.

However, vinegar is an acid and baking powder is a base. They cancel each other out and you lose the cleaning power of both. It’s better to just stick with the baking powder.

Dryer Sheets and Dish Soap

Line the bathtub with dryer sheets and lay the racks on the sheets. Cover the racks with warm water and add half a cup of dish soap. Allow the racks to sit overnight. Use the dryer sheets to clean the racks before draining the tub.

The antistatic in the dryer sheets dilutes the bond between baked-on food and the racks, and the dish soap softens the food. Rinse the racks well, dry them, and then place them back in the oven.

Dishwasher Powder Bath

Place old towels in the bathtub (or use four sponges for the racks to rest on) and lay the racks on them. Fill the tub with enough hot water to cover the racks and add a cup of dishwasher powder.

Dishwasher powder is made to clean the type of mess left on the racks. Allow the racks to soak overnight, and in the morning the stains will usually come right off when you wipe them with a clean cloth or sponge. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the corners. Rinse well, dry them, and put the racks back in the oven.

Dishwasher Tablet and Foil

Some people suggest wrapping each oven rack in aluminum foil, and then soaking them in a bathtub filled with hot water and a dishwasher tablet for at least two hours. The aluminum foil reacts with the melting tablet and softens all the grease and dirt, so the racks only need to be wiped down. Then, they will look as good as new.

Ammonia Garbage Bags

Inhaling ammonia fumes can cause damage to your respiratory tract, so you need to be very careful when using this method. You will need to use gloves, safety goggles, and old clothing.

Do this outside because you do not want fumes inside your house. Be sure to wear gloves and safety goggles. Then, start by placing your oven racks in an unused garbage bag and add a half-quart of ammonia to the bag.

It is probably best to set the racks flat inside the bag so the ammonia can effectively cover them. The trash bag should be big enough so that it has space for the fumes to circulate and to be properly tied. Tie the bag tightly and place it in a trash can.

The next day, open the trash bag in a well-ventilated area. Spray the racks down with a hose and the grime will come right off. After rinsing the racks thoroughly, dry them and put them back in the oven.

Commercial Oven Cleaners

Commercial oven cleaners often produce toxic fumes, so it is important to clean the oven racks outside in a well-ventilated area. Put down some old newspapers and lay the racks on them.

Use rubber gloves and safety goggles and spray the oven cleaner on both sides of the racks. Allow the racks to sit for the recommended period of time, and then brush off any gunk and rinse them off well with a garden hose. Then, you can dry them before putting them back in the oven.

A Final Word

Keeping your oven racks clean is important as you do not want too much dirt, grease, or baked-on food to accumulate. There are many ways to clean oven racks, but the above methods are some of the easiest. Using common household items, hours of soaking, and a little elbow grease can get them sparkling clean again.

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