How to clean oven racks - if you can't remember the last time you cleaned them it's time to get scrubbing

Experts share their top tips for how to clean oven racks to keep your oven in perfect condition

Open and empty Bosch built-in oven
(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith)

Want to know how to clean oven racks thoroughly and with minimal fuss? It’s not as labour-intensive as you may think, all you need is a bit of planning and the right tools. 

Even if you know how to clean an oven, racks are often forgotten in oven cleaning routines, especially if you’ve invested in oven liners and use baking trays whilst cooking, you may skip right past them since food doesn’t touch them. 

And let’s face it, it’s easy just to focus on how to clean an oven glass door when you’re short of time since that’s the part that people see when they’re in your kitchen. But you shouldn’t overlook your racks if you want your oven to be efficient. 

Zimbini Nkonjera, cooking category manager at Hotpoint explains, ‘Built-up grease and food residue on racks can affect heat circulation in your oven, increasing cooking time and, therefore energy output. So, wipe those racks down after each use.’

How to clean oven racks

Remember that even if you have a newer model of oven that has a self-cleaning function, your oven racks still need attention. James Longley, managing director at Utility Bidder explains, ‘Wire racks should be removed before cleaning out your oven, especially if it is self-cleaning, as the temperature will be incredibly high and could cause long-lasting damage to the racks.’

When it comes to ridding the racks of grease, there are a variety of strong foams and chemical products on the market, but they emit serious fumes. And since this time of year doesn’t lend itself to taking the racks outdoors to spray them, we’ve called in the experts to explain how to clean oven racks, minus the harsh chemicals.

Close up of fitted black oven with ceramic oven-safe dish inside

(Image credit: Future PLC)

What you'll need


1. Remove the racks, avoiding damage

If your racks are in particularly bad shape, this job could take a while, so always leave yourself plenty of time before you need to get the dinner on and enough time after dinner that the oven is suitably cooled. 

To get started, you need to remove the racks without scratching the glass or damaging your floor and surfaces, so take your time getting them out. And to save yourself extra cleaning up, Zimbini says, ‘If the racks are very dirty or greasy, place them on towels or newspapers to prevent extra mess.’ 

Beko oven

(Image credit: Beko /

2.Time to let them soak

This step is key if you want to know how to clean oven racks thoroughly – allow for adequate soaking time to really tackle baked-on grease. This is a trick used by professional oven cleaners who have dedicated dip tanks to soak off all the grime. 

Start by filling a large washing bowl or tray with warm water and then add something that will target grease. Zimbini suggests adding, ‘a good amount of washing-up liquid and some vinegar, baking soda or even a washing machine tablet.’ 

Make sure the racks are completely submerged in the water and leave them for at least a few hours or overnight for even better results. 

If you don’t have a bowl to hand that is big enough, Matt Ayres a consultant at independent appliance retailer, RDO says, 'A bathtub is ideal as this is big enough to submerge the racks completely.' 

But to avoid solving one problem only to create another, it’s important to protect your bath in the process, 'If the oven racks have any sharp edges, be sure to lay a towel down in the bath first to prevent any scratches,' Matt tells us.

If you don't have the space or time to soak your trays it might be worth looking into how much a professional oven clean costs, as it could be worth it.

3. Get scrubbing

After a long soak, the dirt on the racks will be suitably softened and you just need to simply scrub off the dirt with a scouring sponge. However, if the racks were particularly caked in stubborn stains, Zimbini’s advises using steel wool or a heavy-duty scrubber. And she says, ‘Be sure to pay extra attention to the corners and edges where grease tends to accumulate.’

blue kitchen with white worktops and stainless steel oven

(Image credit: Future PLC / Lizzie Orme)

4. Rinse and Dry

Now all that left is to thoroughly rinse off all soap and then dry the racks carefully with an old towel. It’s important not to rush this step, the racks must be completely dry before you put them back in the oven. Zimbini explains that this will get rid of lingering residue and prevent rusting.


Do dishwasher tablets clean oven racks?

Dishwasher tablets are packed full of concentrated ingredients designed with the sole purpose of cleaning food off dishes, pans and cutlery, ergo they could do the same for oven racks, right? Indeed, this is a hack that took the internet by storm and it does actually work to work remove grease. 

To try it, simply follow the rack cleaning steps above and add a dishwasher tablet to the water instead of the vinegar/bicarbonate of soda mix.

What is the easiest way to clean my oven racks?

If you’ve been regularly cleaning your racks and you’ve already given them a recent soak to remove baked on grime, popping them in the dishwasher is the easiest way to give them a quick once over. Of course, first check that they fit suitably and remember that dishwashers can only be used for standard racks. 

Natasha Sweet, product specialist at AEG explains, ‘If you have telescopic rails, then it’s best to wash these by hand in hot and soapy water to avoid any damage.’

Green Our Place plan on top of induction hob

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

How do I get brown stains off my oven racks?

Soaking the racks in water filled with vinegar, baking soda, dish soap or a dishwasher tablet for a few hours can lift the brown stains. And then once they’re thoroughly clean, the trick is to avoid the stains getting so baked on in the future. 

Sophie Lane, Product Training Manager at Miele GB says, ‘It’s important not to wait too long to clean oven racks, as repeated baking on of grease and food residue makes it harder to remove over time, so wipe up spillages as soon as the appliance has cooled sufficiently so you can safely do so.’

Don't put off this chore until the absolute last minute, plan in time to tackle it and we promise your oven with thank you for it.