How to clean oven racks — our expert-approved method for sparkling results

Learn how to clean oven racks in the tub

Inside of oven racks
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Want to know how to clean oven racks to get them nice and shiny again? It's many homeowners' most-hated household task, but it must be done every once a while, if only to keep your oven hygienic. 

Fortunately, cleaning oven racks doesn't have to be an arduous task – although if you don't mind scrubbing away at them, you will get even better results. 

Learning how to clean an oven is all about saving yourself as much time and effort as possible, using only the best cleaning products. This expert advice should help you to get your oven racks gleaming again, with minimum elbow grease. 

How to clean oven racks

Oven in white kitchen

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This simple cleaning method just uses dish soap to get a great result. The Real Homes team has tested this expert-approved method and we end up with shiny results every time.

What you'll need

Step 1: Soak in water

Make sure the racks are cool before you start. Then fill up your bathtub or sink with lukewarm water. Add dish soap to make a mild soapy solution. Dunk your oven racks in and let soak for about an hour, or even overnight.

Step 2: Scrubbing

Use a scouring pad or brush to work off any grease or debris. Make sure it’s a non-abrasive version as you don't want to scratch your oven racks. If some grease is very stubborn, try using a toothbrush to help get into the nooks and crannies.

Step 3: Rinse and dry

Rinse under warm water then dry them using a soft microfiber cloth. 

Step 4: Return to the oven

Once they’re dry, you can put the racks back. If you find they aren’t sliding as easily as they should, just put a little cooking oil on wax paper and rub the side rails so they’ll move smoothly again.

Alternative methods

Women with yellow gloves on cleaning oven racks

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jeremy explains that "cleaning oven racks will either involve a lot of elbow grease or soaking followed by rinsing. Either way, you’re going to make a mess if you try to do this in the kitchen sink. You could go outdoors, but one of the easiest ways to clean oven racks is in your tub."

Jeremy told us that "these methods are not only easy, they will leave your oven racks clean and shiny. You’ll keep them that way if you clean the racks and your oven twice a year."

Jeremy Tompson
Jeremy Tompson

Jeremy Tompson, the Strategic Cleaning Advisor at YouthfulHome and the Operations Manager at Quick Response Janitorial Services, knows a thing or two about cleaning. He is responsible for creating long-term cost-effective cleaning plans for hotels, apartment buildings, retirement communities, and other residential facilities.

How to clean oven racks in a bathtub

Cleaning oven racks in the bathtub is more time-consuming than just taking out them out and scrubbing them, but it definitely requires less effort, since the cleaning agents will just dissolve the grease over time. 

Jeremy's favorite cleaning agents for oven racks are Bar Keeper’s Friend, widely available on Amazon, baking soda, one of the best oven cleaners, or dishwashing detergent. If using baking soda, "you can use it by itself or apply the baking soda and then spray it with vinegar, for a fizzing effect."

  • Fill up your bathtub with warm, soapy water
  • Put cleaning agents on the rack, or in water that covers the rack
  • Soak overnight
  • Remove grease and gunk with a sponge or cloth

How to clean oven racks naturally

Fans of natural cleaning methods, step right this way. You can use store cupboard favorites to make oven racks clean and bright. Oh, and you’ll also need a bathtub. 

  • Put a towel down first to prevent scratching the tub
  • Put the oven racks on top of it, then sprinkle them with baking soda
  • Pour on white vinegar, and watch the combo foam
  • When the foaming stops, add hot water to the tub until the racks are fully covered
  • Leave them to soak overnight
  • Use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe off any grease. Stubborn spots left? A toothbrush will help you work round all the bars of each rack.

How to clean oven racks with dryer sheets

Yep, you did read that right. Plenty of people swear tumble dryer sheets are the answer to grubby oven racks.

  • Line the bottom of the tub with the sheets
  • Put the racks on top of them
  • Fill the tub with hot water until they're covered, adding a half cup of dish soap for its degreasing effect
  • Leave the racks to soak overnight (best to warn early morning bathroom users)
  • Drain the tub and wipe the racks down with the dryer sheets
  • Rinse the racks, then dry them with a soft cloth before putting them back into the oven

How to clean oven racks with foil 

OK, yes, this does sound strange, but users of this method have raved about the results when it comes to how to clean oven racks.

  • First, wrap the racks in aluminum foil
  • Place an old towel in the bottom of the bath, then put the wrapped racks on top
  • Add a couple of dishwasher tablets, and cover the racks with hot water
  • Leave to soak overnight
  • In the morning, unwrap the racks, and wipe them down with a soft cloth
  • Rinse and dry then replace


Should you clean oven racks using ammonia?

You’ll find plenty of people recommending cleaning oven racks with ammonia. Our strong advice? Don’t. Although ammonia is an ingredient in many household cleaning products, adding it to a trash bag to clean oven racks is a bit different. 

Bear in mind that ammonia needs to be used in well ventilated areas, and because it’s an irritant you’d have to wear eye protection and protective gloves, and avoid getting it on skin and clothing. In other words, use one of our easier methods, and avoid the hassle.

Do I have to use heavy-duty products to clean my oven racks?

If hard scrubbing isn't your thing (is it anyone's?), you should look into professional-grade oven cleaning products. Not all of them are suitable for home use, but some are, and will save you a lot of time and effort. 

Jessica Randhawa, the head chef, recipe creator, and writer behind The Forked Spoon, swears by a product called Easy-Off Fume Free Pro Commerical Use Oven Cleaner, available from Amazon. She calls it 'an excellent choice when used with non-scratch sponges.' If Easy Off is not available, Spray Away Heavy-Duty Oven and Grill Cleaner is also a good product, according to Jessica. These are 'heavy-duty chemicals', but they do work. 

Alternatively, Bar Keeper's Friend should do the job on most oven racks. According to David Mason, the owner of The Knobs Company, the pros of this product is that 'it's available in most grocery stores' and you only need to let it sit on your racks 'a short time'. 

How do I make my oven racks shiny again?

According to Mason, 'the easiest way to make oven racks shiny again is by using a Brillo product. It's available in most grocery stores. Simply wet the oven racks, sprinkle on the Brillo, let it sit for a few minutes, and then scrub with a brush.'

You can, of course, also use baking soda, lemon, and plenty of elbow grease to really get those racks to shine.

Can I clean oven racks with vinegar?

The short answer is: yes, you can use vinegar when considering how to clean oven racks. The longer answer is that for best results, David Mason recommends that 'mixing vinegar with baking soda paste can help restore the luster to your oven racks. First, mix 1/2 cup of vinegar with 1/4 cup of baking soda. Then, scrub the oven racks with a soft brush, allowing them to sit for 5 minutes. Rinse off with clear water and allow to dry.'

Or, if you are in a hurry or don't have any other ingredients, go ahead and 'use straight vinegar on the racks.'

Sarah Warwick
Freelance Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.