How to Clean an Oven Rack – 3 Methods That Work and the One You Should Never Try

Keeping your oven racks clean can be a challenging task. Over time, oven racks accumulate baked-on grease, food residue, and grime that can be extremely difficult to remove. However, cleaning oven racks regularly is essential for maintaining your oven’s performance and appearance.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover how to clean an oven rack using different methods. We will discuss the pros and cons of various techniques and provide tips for cleaning oven racks thoroughly. We will also highlight the one oven rack cleaning method you should avoid.

Why It’s Important to Clean Oven Racks

Before we dive into the cleaning methods, let’s first understand why cleaning oven racks regularly is so crucial:

  • Enhances Baking Performance: Grease and food debris on oven racks can prevent even heat circulation inside your oven. This can lead to uneven cooking. Clean racks allow for proper air flow and heat distribution.
  • Prevents Mess: Baked-on grime falling from dirty oven racks can create a mess in the oven every time you cook or use the oven. Clean racks prevent this.
  • Extends Oven’s Life: Grease residue builds up over time and can be challenging to clean later. Regular cleaning prevents this grease buildup, extending your oven’s life.
  • Improves Safety: Some grime on oven racks contains flammable grease deposits. Cleaning removes this grease layer, preventing any fire hazards.
  • Enhances Appearance: Spotless oven racks can make the entire oven look more aesthetically pleasing.

Now that you know why oven rack cleaning is important, let’s look at the most effective cleaning methods.

Method 1: Using Baking Soda

Baking soda is mildly abrasive and alkaline, which makes it great for cleaning oven racks. Here is a step-by-step process for how to clean oven racks with baking soda:

What You’ll Need

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Large plastic bag or aluminum foil
  • Scrub pad or brush

Step 1: Remove Oven Racks

First, remove all oven racks and take them outdoors or anywhere with good ventilation. Wear oven mitts to avoid burns.

Step 2: Make Baking Soda Paste

In a bowl, make a thick paste using 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water. You want a gritty, spreadable consistency.

Step 3: Coat Racks with Paste

Use your hands or a scrub brush to generously coat the paste all over the racks – front, back, and sides.

Step 4: Wrap Racks

Next, tightly wrap the coated racks individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This keeps the paste from drying out.

Step 5: Let Sit for Hours

Leave the wrapped racks overnight or for at least a few hours. This allows time for the baking soda paste to penetrate the grime.

Step 6: Scrub and Rinse

After letting them sit, unwrap the racks and scrub away the grime using a scrub pad, brush, or steel wool. Rinse thoroughly.

Step 7: Dry and Replace

Finally, dry the racks with a towel and replace them back in the oven once fully dry.

Using baking soda is an effective and non-toxic way to learn how to clean an oven rack. The baking soda dissolves and loosens even the most stubborn, baked-on grease and food deposits.

Some key tips for cleaning with baking soda:

  • Use warm water to make the baking soda paste for faster cleaning.
  • Soak racks for longer time if needed – 8 hours or overnight works best.
  • Scrub gently so wire racks don’t bend. Wear gloves to protect hands.
  • Rinse thoroughly to remove all baking soda residue.

Method 2: Cleaning with Dishwasher

For those looking for the quickest and easiest way for how to clean an oven rack, using a dishwasher is it. Here are the steps:

What You’ll Need

  • Dishwasher
  • Dishwasher detergent

Step 1: Remove Racks

Take all oven racks out of the oven safely while wearing mitts. Make sure the racks can fit laying flat or vertically in your dishwasher.

Step 2: Load Dishwasher

Gently load the oven racks one by one onto the dishwasher racks. Avoid bending them. You can lay them flat or place vertically.

Step 3: Add Detergent

Add regular dishwasher detergent into the detergent compartment. For really grimy racks, use extra detergent.

Step 4: Run Cycle

Run the dishwasher cycle using the “Normal” or “Heavy” setting. The hot water and dish detergent will soften and dissolve grime.

Step 5: Dry and Replace

Once done, remove racks and immediately dry with a towel to avoid rusting. When fully dry, put them back in the oven.

The powerful hot water and dish detergent in your dishwasher can penetrate and remove the toughest of grease deposits from oven racks.

Some useful tips for cleaning oven racks in a dishwasher:

  • Use hot water setting for improved cleaning.
  • Run a longer, more intensive cycle for very dirty racks.
  • Don’t overload dishwasher – clean racks in batches if needed.
  • Remove stubborn deposits with steel wool before washing.
  • Dry immediately and thoroughly after washing.

Method 3: Cleaning with Vinegar

Vinegar is a natural and non-toxic cleaning agent that works wonders for removing grime from oven racks. Follow these instructions:

What You’ll Need

  • White vinegar
  • Large plastic bag
  • Old towel
  • Scrub pad or brush

Step 1: Fill Bag with Vinegar

Pour undiluted white vinegar liberally into a large plastic bag so racks are fully submerged. Seal the bag closed.

Step 2: Insert Racks

Carefully insert the oven racks one by one into the plastic bag of vinegar. Make sure racks are fully submerged.

Step 3: Soak Overnight

Tie the plastic bag shut and lay it in a tub or on an old towel. Let racks soak minimum 8 hours or overnight.

Step 4: Scrub and Rinse

After soaking, remove racks from the bag and scrub with a pad to remove residue. Rinse very well.

Step 5: Dry and Replace

Use a clean towel to dry the wet oven racks thoroughly before safely putting them back into the oven.

The acetic acid in vinegar dissolves grease deposits, while its pH neutralizes grime. Vinegar can make cleaning oven racks easy and chemical-free.

Some useful vinegar cleaning tips:

  • Use hot vinegar for faster cleaning power.
  • Soak for longer if racks are extremely dirty.
  • Wear gloves – vinegar can dry out skin.
  • Rinse very thoroughly after scrubbing.
  • Avoid steel wool – it reacts with vinegar.
  • Dry racks fully before replacing in oven.

What Not to Do When Cleaning Oven Racks

Now that we’ve covered effective oven rack cleaning methods, let’s also discuss what you should avoid doing:

Avoid Oven Cleaner Sprays

Some oven cleaners and degreasers contain powerful chemicals and fumes that can damage oven racks and be toxic if inhaled. Avoid using these chemical sprays.

Don’t Use Chlorine Bleach

While bleach is a powerful cleaner, it can react with oven rack metal and lead to corrosion over time. Avoid bleach when cleaning racks.

Don’t Attempt Scouring Pads Alone

Scouring pads or steel wool alone can scratch oven racks. Don’t use them directly without a cleaning solution like vinegar or baking soda.

Avoid Putting in Oven During Self-Clean Cycle

The extremely high heat of oven self-cleaning can damage racks. Remove them prior to starting a self-clean cycle.

Don’t Use Abrasive Solutions

Avoid any creamy cleansers or other solutions with gritty, abrasive substances that can wear down oven racks.

By avoiding these harsh cleaning methods, you can safely and effectively clean oven racks without damage.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cleaning Oven Racks

You probably still have some questions about the best process for how to clean an oven rack. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions:

How Often Should I Clean Oven Racks?

Most manufacturers recommend deep cleaning oven racks at least two times per year. Clean them more frequently if you use the oven daily.

What’s the Best Way to Clean Oven Racks With No Effort?

The dishwasher cleaning method requires minimal effort. Just load, wash, dry, and replace!

What Can I Use to Clean Oven Racks Besides Vinegar?

Baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, and ammonia are good vinegar alternatives for DIY oven rack cleaning.

Is It Safe to Use Oven Cleaners on Racks?

No, most oven cleaners contain harsh chemicals and should be avoided. Use non-toxic methods instead.

Can I Just Use Steel Wool to Scrub Off Grime?

Steel wool alone can damage racks. Combine it with an abrasive cleaner like baking soda or vinegar instead.

How Do I Clean Oven Racks If I Can’t Remove Them?

Use a baking soda paste on extendable scrub brushes to coat and scour hard-to-remove racks inside the oven.

What’s the Best Way to Dry Oven Racks After Cleaning?

Immediately and thoroughly dry racks with a towel after cleaning. Allow them to air dry fully before replacing.


Keeping oven racks clean should be part of your regular kitchen maintenance for optimal performance and safety.

As we learned, the three best methods for how to clean an oven rack are:

  • Using baking soda paste for a non-toxic scrub
  • Dishwasher cleaning for convenience
  • Vinegar soaking for a chemical-free clean

Avoid harsh chemicals, bleach, steel wool or scouring pads alone, and oven cleaner sprays when cleaning racks.

By regularly removing, cleaning, and replacing oven racks using these easy methods, you can keep your oven looking and working its best for years to come.