There is not a lot of things that are more irritating to clean than a dirty oven, except possibly stained oven racks. Even if you use your oven sparingly, chances are that sticky grime, baked-on grease and burned pieces of food will accumulate. Some people have self-cleaning ovens, but many repair companies are cautioning against utilizing this feature. Temperatures can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, causing damage to internal elements and the racks. The extreme heat level in the cleaning cycle destroys the shiny chrome finish. To prolong their life and avoid the racks looking dull, you should clean your oven racks the old-fashioned way.
Putting off cleaning your oven racks will only delay the inevitable and increase the amount of work needed to remove layers of baked-on food debris and grease. Rest assured that cleaning them is easy with the right technique. If you have a standard oven or a self-cleaning model in your home, you are going to need to learn how to clean your oven racks. Fortunately, by following any of these methods, you can get the job done quickly and with a minimum of hassle.
1. Dryer Sheets and Dishwashing Liquid
An effortless way to clean your oven racks is to line your bathtub with dryer sheets. Lay the oven racks on top of the sheets, fill the tub with just enough warm water to cover the racks and add a half-cup of dish soap. Allow everything to sit overnight. Drain the tub in the morning and use the soaked dryer sheets to wipe the racks clean. The power of the antistatic in the dryer sheets helps to separate the food from the racks by diluting the bond, while the fabric softening agents soften the baked-on food. Because this method happens in the bathtub, cleanup after you take care of the oven racks is easy.
2. Baking Soda and Vinegar Bath
For this method you will also be using your bathtub. Set the racks in the tub without any water. Once they are in place, sprinkle baking soda–which acts an a cleanser and deodorizer–over the racks and then douse them with vinegar. After the foaming stops, run the hot water in the tub until it fully covers the racks and allow them to sit overnight. Scrub the racks with an old dishtowel in the morning to remove the grease and grime. Use an old toothbrush to remove the baked-on gunk. For especially stubborn spots, add kosher salt to create a more abrasive scrubbing system. Afterward, rinse the racks completely before you place them back in the oven.
3. Ammonia Trash Bags
This is a fairly standard and straightforward no-mess method. You will need a large plastic trash bag, ammonia, a trash bin, a place outside where you can leave the racks overnight and a hose connected to a water source. To remove the grime from your oven racks with this technique, you simply place your oven racks in the large, unused trash bag. Add a half-quart of ammonia. Tightly tie off the bag and put it in a garbage can. Then let them sit overnight. The racks do not have to be coated in the ammonia, because the fumes will circulate and do the job. That being said, some people have found better success after they set the racks flat while they are in the plastic bags so that the ammonia can reach every spot.
If you try this, be very careful to seal the bags tightly so that the ammonia cannot leak out. Also make sure to place the garbage can outside so you don’t allow these dangerous fumes to circulate inside of your home. The next day, open the trash bag in a well-ventilated area. Be cautious of the ammonia and the fumes! Use gloves and safety goggles and wear something that you do not mind ruining. Spray the racks down thoroughly with a hose and watch the previously cooked-on grease dissolve right off. Once the racks are rinsed and dried, replace them in the oven.
4. Commercial Cleaners
Most commercial cleaners produce toxic fumes, so if you plan on using one, be sure to clean the racks outside. Cover a work surface with a plastic shower curtain or old newspaper. Lay the oven racks down in separate layers. After you put on rubber gloves to protect your hands, spray an oven cleaner product liberally onto both sides of the racks. Leave them sitting for at least 10 minutes, or whatever the recommended amount of time is for that product. Scrub the racks with an old rag or toothbrush and rinse thoroughly with a garden hose before replacing.
5. Dishwasher Soap Bath
For this strategy, all that you need is a bathtub, dishwasher granules, old towels and a few old sponges. This simple method has you place old towels down in your bathtub. Alternately, you can lay a few old sponges in the corners for the oven racks to rest on so that they will not scratch or damage your tub. Place the oven racks in your bathtub carefully, on top of the towel or sponges. Next fill your tub with just enough hot water to cover the racks. Then add a cup of dishwasher powder. Let the racks soak overnight. In the morning, rinse the racks. The stains will usually wipe right off with a firm rub of a sponge or clean cloth.
If you follow this tip but the marks still persist, try something more abrasive, like a dish scourer. If you are cleaning an oven rack with an enamel finish, make sure you do not apply too much pressure. Also, do not leave the product in contact with the racks for an extended period. An old toothbrush might be helpful for scrubbing into the corners and completely removing old scorch marks. Rinse thoroughly, dry and replace them in your oven.
Cleaning oven racks is time-consuming, and the chemicals present in most conventional oven cleaners are toxic. In addition, stains from burnt on foods can be enough to put anyone off from cleaning their oven racks. Nonetheless, with these simple and practical techniques, your oven racks will be glistening like new sooner than you realize. There are many other ways to clean oven racks, but these are the methods that do not require much work from you. Cleaning oven racks is a neglected and dirty job, but by following these techniques you can return them to their original sparkle with very little effort.