How to Clean Oven Racks to Look Like New

Over time, oven racks can become coated with burnt-on food and grime, making them appear dull and dirty. But having shiny, like-new oven racks again is possible with some simple cleaning methods. Here’s an in-depth look at how to clean oven racks to make them look brand new.

Gather Supplies

To get oven racks looking pristine, you’ll need to gather a few handy supplies:

  • Baking soda – Works as a gentle abrasive to help lift grime
  • White vinegar – Helps cut through grease and burnt-on food
  • Large plastic bags or aluminum foil – For soaking racks
  • Old towels – For scrubbing and drying
  • Mild detergent (optional) – Further helps cut grease
  • Rubber gloves – To protect your hands

Make sure you have these ready before tackling the cleaning process.

Remove Racks From Oven

The first step is to remove all racks from the oven so you can thoroughly clean every part.

Be sure the oven is completely cool before removing racks. The high heat can burn if you attempt this while it’s still warm.

Once cool, simply grip the sides of each rack and slide it out of the oven cavity. Set racks aside on a towel or benchtop where you have room to clean them.

Removing all racks gives you better access to the oven interior. Take this opportunity to wipe down the oven walls and base with a damp cloth to remove any drips or spills.

Soak Racks

One of the most effective oven rack cleaning methods is to soak them with a baking soda and vinegar solution. This mixture helps gently break down grime.

You’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Large plastic bag or aluminum foil

Add 3-4 tablespoons of baking soda to a large plastic bag or cover racks with foil. Then pour in 1 cup of white vinegar. The solution will start fizzing as it reacts.

Carefully place oven racks inside the bag or wrap foil around to fully submerge. Seal bag or wrap foil tightly. Allow racks to soak for at least a few hours, or overnight if there’s considerable buildup.

The longer you soak racks, the more this solution can work to lift burnt-on grease and food.

Scrub With Baking Soda

After soaking racks, it’s time to start scrubbing. You’ll want an abrasive surface to help remove grime. Baking soda works perfectly for this.

Pour a generous amount of baking soda onto a towel or plate. Then, pull racks from the soak solution one by one.

While still moist, dip racks into the baking soda or start rubbing baking soda directly onto the metal with gloved hands. The abrasive texture of the baking soda, combined with the moisture, creates a gentle scouring effect.

Focus on scrubbing areas with the most buildup, but cover racks entirely. Rinse with water occasionally to see if grime is lifting. Reapply baking soda and scrub more if needed.

The soaking solution helps soften grime, while the baking soda scrub removes it. With some elbow grease, you’ll see racks looking cleaner and brighter.

Use Detergent and Water

For racks needing more heavy-duty cleaning, try using detergent along with water:

Fill a tub, sink or spray bottle with warm water mixed with a small amount of mild dish detergent. Completely submerge racks or spray racks with soapy solution.

Let them soak for 15 minutes up to a few hours if there’s considerable grime. The detergent will help break down oily residue.

After soaking, scrub racks all over with a towel or brush. The texture assists with removing stuck-on food. Rinse occasionally to check progress. Repeat detergent soaks and scrubbing until oven racks look clean.

The dish soap is formulated to cut grease, so it can be ideal for racks coated in oily buildup. Coupled with scrubbing, you’ll restore shine.

Use Oven Cleaner

For extremely dirty oven racks that need heavy cleaning, oven cleaner is an option. Look for a formula designed for oven interiors.

Lay racks outside or in a well-ventilated area and spray oven cleaner liberally across all surfaces. Be sure to thoroughly coat built up areas.

Let cleaner sit for the recommended time on the product label, usually around 10 minutes. Keep pets and children away during this time.

Wipe racks with a wet cloth or paper towel. For tough spots, allow additional time before wiping.

Triple rinse with clean water to remove all oven cleaner residue. Wipe dry.

Oven cleaner can be very effective at blasting away stubborn, carbonized grime. But be sure to use caution and follow label directions closely.

Dry and Replace Racks

Once oven racks are scrubbed, soaked and rinsed, the final step is properly drying.

Wipe racks with a clean towel to absorb excess moisture. Then let air dry completely before returning to the oven. If placed wet, they could rust or affect oven operation.

Carefully slide racks back into their original spots in the oven. Double check that racks are secure.

Now when you look inside your oven, you’ll see beautiful, like-new racks ready for baking. No more grimy buildup.

Extra Tips and Advice

Follow these handy tips for keeping oven racks looking their best:

  • Clean racks 2-4 times per year for regular maintenance
  • Cover racks in foil before roasting or broiling to prevent drips burning on
  • Wipe spills immediately after they happen to avoid built up stains
  • Avoid abrasive scouring pads during cleaning which could scratch metal
  • Use rubber gloves and eye protection when working with harsh cleaners
  • Rinse racks thoroughly after using oven or chemical cleaners
  • For extra shine, dry racks with a microfiber cloth after cleaning

With regular deep cleaning and preventative care, you can keep oven racks looking brand new for years to come. No need to buy replacements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about cleaning oven racks:

How can I tell when my oven racks need cleaning?

Check racks for visible grime buildup, burnt-on food and grease that creates a clouded or spotted appearance. Racks might also look darkened. Any visible dirt means it’s time for a thorough clean.

What’s the easiest way to clean oven racks?

The simplest cleaning method is to soak racks in a baking soda and vinegar solution. No scrubbing required! Just submerge racks to loosen baked-on grime so it can be rinsed away easily.

Should I take oven racks outside to clean them?

Yes, cleaning oven racks outside is recommended, especially if you’ll be using strong oven cleaners. These can produce fumes you won’t want inside. Lay racks on grass or work on a patio or driveway.

What can I use if I don’t have baking soda or vinegar?

Dish soap and water also works well. Soak racks in warm, soapy water then scrub with a plastic brush or towel. For tough grease, degreasing cleaners like Easy-Off are effective too.

How should I dry oven racks after cleaning them?

Always thoroughly dry racks with a towel before replacing in the oven. Wet racks left in the oven cavity can lead to rusting. Make sure no moisture remains before sliding racks back in.

How often should oven racks be cleaned?

Plan to deep clean oven racks every 2-4 months if you use the oven frequently. Quick wipe downs can be done more often if you notice substantial spills or drips between deep cleanings.

Why do my cleaned oven racks still look spotted?

If racks develop a speckled look after cleaning, this is likely just staining of the metal that won’t scrub off. As long as the spots are just discoloration – not actual baked on food – the racks are still clean.

What homemade solution works well for cleaning oven racks?

A fantastic homemade cleaner is baking soda and vinegar. Make a paste with baking soda, coat racks, soak in vinegar, then scrub. The natural acids in vinegar cut through grease while baking soda lifts grime.

Can I use steel wool to clean oven racks?

Avoid steel wool and other metal scouring pads. They can scratch and damage oven racks. Soft cloths, plastic abrasives or nylon scrub brushes are better options.

In Summary

Cleaning oven racks may seem daunting when they are coated in burnt-on food and grease. But with common household products and some elbow grease, you can get them looking like new again. An overnight soak in baking soda and vinegar works wonders to loosen grime so you can scrub racks clean. With regular maintenance cleaning every few months, you can keep your oven racks sparkling.