How to clean oven racks – with foil, naturally and the tub – for sparkling results

Brilliant methods for how to clean oven racks using foil, baking soda, in the tub or even using dryer sheets... Enjoy quick and impressive results

Clean oven racks inside oven close up image
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Want to know how to clean oven racks the proper way? Course you do! Cooking spatters are inevitable, but oven racks coated in food debris and grease look bad – not to mention they aren't exactly very sanitary. And, dirty racks hardly make your oven enticing and encouraging to cook atop. Rest assured it happens to all of us, though, as this job isn't a favorite of anyone we know. 

Long story short: making your oven racks gleam once more is a must-do job that you can do solo, or whilst you're in the midst of deep cleaning your oven. Using these methods and products below, of course. Have a self-cleaning oven? You may want to check the manual for your appliance – it’s likely that it advises you to take the racks out of the oven before running a cleaning cycle. The reason? The high temperature can discolor or damage them. Which is where we come in.

Alternatively, see our best oven cleaner guide for sprays and solutions that you can use to do this job.

  • Doing the full she bang? See our how to clean an oven guide – with baking soda, vinegar and lemons

How to clean oven racks with dish soap

Let’s say you’re disciplined when it comes to cleaning all round your home and every job gets done regularly, including tackling the oven and all its parts. Or perhaps you cook most of your meals in the microwave? Or maybe you order in a lot? If any of the above apply, then it’s likely that your oven racks will be straightforward to clean.

Make sure the racks are cool before you start, then soak them in a lukewarm dish soap solution. Use a scouring pad to work off any grease or debris, but make sure it’s a non-abrasive version. Rinse, then dry them using a soft cloth. 

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.

cinnamon buns in a clean oven

(Image credit: Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash)
  • Feel like cleaning your whole space now? This is how to clean a kitchen from top to bottom.

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 the bathtub. 

First, lay an old towel down in the bottom of the tub to protect the surface. 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 and leave them to soak overnight.

In the morning you can use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe off any grease and grot. 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, then 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), then drain the tub and wipe the racks down with the dryer sheets. A toothbrush is again the answer to any debris that’s clinging on. 

Rinse the racks, then dry with a soft cloth before putting them back into the oven.

How to clean oven racks with foil 

how to clean oven racks: cookies cooling on clean oven rack

(Image credit: Getty)

OK, yes, this does sound strange, but users of this method have raved about the results. 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.

Then (you guessed it) leave to soak overnight. In the morning, unwrap the racks, and wipe them down with a soft cloth. Rinse and dry (soft cloth again, people), then replace. 

  • Noticing more grub in the area? This is how to get a clean stove top quickly.

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.

Expert tips on cleaning oven racks

Mrs Hinch, aka cleaning guru Sophie Hinchcliffe, shared with fans 'I usually soak my oven racks in a large blue soaking tray but can I find it? Nope! And I can't be bothered to go in the loft today so bath it is ✔️Washing up liquid✔️White vinegar ✔️ Warm water ✔️' and the result? 'Oven = HINCHED 😉✔️'

Melissa Maker author and creator of Clean My Space uses the bathtub method but instead of using baking soda she recommends powdered dishwasher detergent or laundry detergent if it's all you have to hand. 'Dish detergent is designed to specially work on this type of mess, this grease. So if you can find powdered dish detergent, do for it.' 

How to clean an oven yourself?

If you want to give your entire oven a good scrub – trays, glass, and all the rest – then you could use one of our top-rated oven cleaning products to help with this job. See them below and use them as per the instructions on the bottle. Some require you to leave the solution in your oven for a while, and others are a quick 20-minute job. The choice is yours.

There's no excuse not to get baking now!

Sarah Warwick
Sarah Warwick

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.