Cleaning those crusty oven racks is one of those cleaning jobs that rarely, if ever, gets done. It also gets the kitchen and bathroom working together in concert—we don’t see that too often, now do we? Let me explain; Your oven racks are a pain point when it comes to cleaning, you can’t leave them in a self-clean oven cycle and they’re nearly impossible to scrub effectively. They do, however, look awful after a few thrills and spills and can lead to bad smells and burning, charred gunk over time. So, I’m going to tell you how to clean your oven racks with next to no effort at all. Oh, and we also made a video about this so feel free to check that out too!

What You’ll Need

  1. An old towel.
  2. A cup of laundry detergent – you can use the powdered kind or the liquid kind.
  3. A container of some type large enough to hold a few cups of water, ideally a mason jar or other empty glass jar.
  4. A bathtub – or at least a tub big enough to fit your oven racks into.

clean oven racks

How to Clean Oven Racks

  1. Lay the towel along the bottom of your bathtub – this is going to protect the surface of your tub from being scratched by the oven racks or powdered detergent – this is an important step, so don’t skip this one!
  2. Take your dirty oven racks and place them on top of the towel.
  3. Plug the drain and start filling the tub with the hottest water possible. Let the tub fill until the water completely covers the racks.  Hot water is really important here, it helps break down the grease and activate the detergent. It will cool over time but the initial blast should be hot, hot, hot.
  4. Take a cup of the laundry detergent and dissolve it in hot water in the mason jar and then add that mixture to the tub. This is to ensure the product is broken down well.  I like using powdered detergent because you get some abrasion as well; you don’t have to completely dissolve it before adding it to the water.  The soapy water and the granules act together to get the most bang for your buck!
  5. That’s it! Now let the detergent do its thing for the next 6-10 hours. It’s probably best just to leave it overnight which gives it enough time to really loosen all that caked on grease and grime.
  6. The next morning drain the tub and give the racks a quick wipe and dry before putting them back in the oven.

It’s important to note that you should NEVER leave your oven racks in the oven during the self-cleaning cycle—it can strip the chrome off the rack(s) and permanently damage them. Also, If you have an oven with coil burners, you can throw your drip pans in the tub as well overnight, I mean, why not?

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  1. Baking soda crystals… buy from the supermarket. This is the ingredient in the washing powder. A couple of peices of aluminium foil. Soak in a tub of hot water overnight and the grime will simply fall off when you scrub it with a brush. No nasty chemicals and works as well as the oven cleaners that are so poisonous to breath.

  2. It’s no secret that oven cleaning is one of the most tedious and time consuming parts of domestic maintenance and home care. It’s dirty, it takes time and most of it is spent bent over or on your knees. This is especially true for ovens which haven’t been cleaned in a while – making the cost of oven cleaning a small price to pay for the convenience. But why book it in the first place?

  3. Wow!! I’m so impressed! I’ve put off cleaning the racks for way too long. Left them in the tub overnight. Was so easy to clean. Thank you, thank you!!

  4. My oven racks had 9 months of build-up, primarily bacon grease (we bake our bacon) so I tried your overnight soak method. After the soak I scrubbed with a plastic brush and soft scrubbing sponge. Using powdered detergent as an abrasive helped a little, then I tried Bar Keepers Friend; it was better, but still a lot of work. First rack took 40+ minutes. Then I tried using a stainless steel scouring pad (Amway Scrub Buds), and it was much easier to get the build-up off. Second rack took 25 minutes. For the third rack I tried a new product that BLEW ME AWAY, Goo Gone Oven & Grill Cleaner. I sprayed it on, let sit for 3-5 minutes, and the plastic brush got most of the build-up off. I then used the stainless scouring pad for the remaining gunk, and it took 10 minutes. I have appreciated your non-commercial approach to cleaning, but I had to share this experience because of how MUCH LESS work it was using Goo Gone, especially for older persons or those with physical challenges. I had an AHA! moment, too. Why keep all three racks in the oven to get dirty when I usually only need one? I put the spotless racks in a cabinet until I need a second or third rack.

  5. Very nice to see a use for laundry detergent that’s not laundry!

    Speaking of which, do y’all know of any uses for powder dishwasher detergent? No dishwasher anymore, and I’m stuck with a nearly full box (that didn’t work well enough to give away).

    • You can use that instead of laundry soap to clean your oven racks. In fact, I think that would be preferable. That’s what I used.

      • I just took my LG oven doors apart – it was pretty easy a few screws – the glass looked so disgusting and now my stove looks like brand new
        I had to find a YouTube video to get off and on again though
        I used gooGone oven cleaner – work so well

  6. This was a very well done tutorial, props to you Melissa! 🙂 I myself work in the oven cleaning business in London and have nothing more to add to this particular topic. You’ve explained and showed it very well.
    I’d like to say, however, you should proceed with caution when using your oven’s self cleaning mode. When you turn it on the inside of the oven becomes extremely hot. Any food spills will be burned and thus emit dangerous fumes. Family members with asthma should be nowhere near the kitchen at this time.
    Sometimes a fuse or button can go out due to the extreme temperature inside the oven. Some oven parts area really hard to replace and usually end up costing quite a lot. Sorry if I got too carried away, but I can’t stress enough this issue.
    Keep up the good work!

  7. That’s the hard way. The easy way to clean oven racks is to put them in a plastic garbage bag and spray them with oven cleaner. 12-24 hours later lay them in the driveway and spray them with water until all of the oven cleaner is gone.

    My grandmother was using that trick 50 years ago.

  8. Cleaning my oven is my most hated chore. I actually enjoy cleaning most of the time and find it to be therapeutic. Not so with the oven but it is so necessary. Thanks for sharing this awesome tip!

  9. Queation how to clean Gas ovens and gas stoves?

    My oven isn’t self cleaning and I have gas burners with really burned into covers that you l;ay your pots on to cook.

  10. That’s the hard way. The easy way is to put the racks in a garbage bag and take them outside. Spray the racks heavily with oven cleaner and seal the bag. 10-20 hours later open the bag, dump the racks in the driveway, and spray with the garden hose until all the oven cleaner is gone, along with the ick that was on the racks.

    Some people put ammonia in the bag with the racks. If its winter in your area you can rinse the racks in the bathtub instead of outdoors.

  11. I gather from what you wrote here that you’re one of the many who now distinguish machine from hand dish detergents by writing “dish detergent” and “dish soap”, respectively. Even the makers of hand dishwashing liquids have mostly switched from labeling them “detergent” to “soap”. “Detergent” is a more general term applying to anything for cleaning, so that term includes soaps, but they muddy the dishwater, so to speak, by calling soapless products “soap”. In an application like this, a mistake isn’t so costly, but everybody knows stories of people who’ve sudsed up their kitchen with the hand stuff in the machine. So please write “machine” or “hand” in the future.

    Also, abrasiveness doesn’t help if you’re just soaking. And laundry powders won’t scratch bathtubs, but some machine dish detergents may, because laundry detergents aren’t abrasive but some machine dish detergents are.

    • Actually, detergent means a harsher synthetic soap. Soap is made from fats and lye through the process of saponification. Detergents may be petroleum-based and it’s not something you could make at home.


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