Cleaning Oven Racks: Make Your Oven Food-Safe Again

The oven is probably one of the hardest working appliances in the kitchen. While the oven can be cleaned relatively easily (check out this full tutorial for an effective, completely natural oven cleaning method), cleaning the large oven racks might give some pause. They’re too big for the sink, so what’s a kitchen owner to do? This tutorial will show you the super simple way to clean oven racks.

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Begin by removing your oven racks from your oven, and carrying them to the bathroom. That’s right. The bathroom.

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Place a couple of towels into your bathtub, folded long-wise, so that a few inches of towel run up the bathtub wall.

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Close off the drain, and run your hottest water into the bathtub.

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Carefully place your oven racks in the bathtub. They may only be able to fit in the center of your tub, depending on the sizes of all involved parties. Even if they have to slant, that’s okay, too.

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The most important part of this step is not that the oven racks are flat; it’s that their sides don’t actually touch the bathtub walls. Keep the towels between your oven racks and the bathtub itself. You don’t want to have metal scratches in your tub after this.

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Fill the bathtub until the oven racks are completely submerged. Wow. With the very-hot water, my oven racks are already cleaning themselves. Gross. (But, yay?)

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Measure out about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of dishwashing detergent. This tutorial used 1/2 cup (or 1-1/2 scoops of a 1/3 measuring cup).

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Pour the detergent into your hot water-filled bathtub. Note: The detergent you use can be either powder or liquid; it doesn’t really matter because it will dissolve either way.

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If you can stand the high temperature, swirl the detergent around a little bit with your fingers.

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Walk away for about four hours. I personally couldn’t believe how filthy the water was at this point.

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Of course, you could go do other things, but it seems a shame to waste this chance to clean a perfectly empty, non-usable oven. Doesn’t it? Especially one so desperately in need of cleaning.

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Wipe away the crumbs while you think about whether or not you really want to clean the whole oven.

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Then realize that you do. Follow  ’s detailed instructions, which (briefly) include making a quick paste of baking soda and water and lathering it on every surface of your oven and oven door.

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Close the oven and walk away for 4-12 hours.

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Spray with vinegar and wipe it all away.

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Marvel at how dirty your oven window was, and how you can actually see through it now. Try to remember the last time you could see through the window…or try to remember if you knew if you were even supposed to be able to see through the window. Nope? Join the club.

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The whole oven looks great. Much cleaner than before.

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Seriously. I can’t get over this transparent oven window business.

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All right. Your oven is clean (or you’re still waiting to do the final wipe-down), and it’s time to go back to the oven racks in the bathtub.

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Because the racks have been soaking for hours, it’s very easy to simply scrub the gunk off the wires. Use a gently abrasive scouring pad, sponge, or even rag. Methodically wipe each wire and the outer frame.

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The wiping at this point shouldn’t be hard, because everything has been soaking and is ready to be removed. All that grime is basically waiting to jump off the oven rack. Just look at the difference!

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When the oven racks are all wiped, rinse them with clean water (the shower comes in handy for this) and set aside. Wring out and remove the towels to the laundry, then empty the tub.

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Carry the now-clean oven racks up to your (hopefully) now-clean oven.

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Insert all the clean things together.

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Stand back and admire your handiwork. Makes you almost feel like baking something, doesn’t it? But then it might dirty your clean oven. Tomorrow, maybe.

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We hope you take great satisfaction in cleaning your oven racks, and the beautiful oven that results relatively effortlessly.