How to Clean Oven Racks!


Hello again Clean My Space Nation – this week we’re tackling a cleaning job that rarely, if ever gets done, AND gets the kitchen and bathroom working in concert…we don’t see that too often, now do we?   Let me explain.  Your oven racks are quite a pain point when it comes to cleaning.  You can’t leave them in a self-clean oven cycle,  they are nearly impossible to scrub effectively  but they do look awful after a few thrills and spills and can lead to bad smells and burning and charred gunk over time.  So I’m going to tell you how to clean your oven racks with next to no effort at all.  I assure you, after reading this post, within 24 hours, 80% of you will have cleaned your oven racks.  The other 20% will do it within 48 hours.  It’s that easy!  Ok, enough is enough – let’s get going!

Here’s what you’ll need:

An old towel.

About a cup of laundry detergent – you can use the powdered kind or the liquid kind- you can even use dishwashing detergent which should work just as well.  However, I prefer to us powdered for this job and I’ll explain why in a second.

And finally a bathtub – or at least a tub big enough to fit your oven racks into.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Lay the towel along the bottom of your bathtub – this is going to protect the surface of your tub from being scratched by the oven racks or powdered detergent – this is an important step, so don’t skip this one!

2. Take your dirty oven racks and place them on top of the towel.

3. Then plug the drain and start filling the tub with the hottest water possible. Let the tub fill until the water completely covers the racks.  Hot water is really important here, my friends.  It helps break down the grease and activate the detergent.  It will cool over time but the initial blast should be hot, hot, hot.

4. Finally, take a cup of the laundry detergent or the dish detergent and dissolve it in hot water and then add it to the tub to ensure the product is broken down well.  I like powder because you do get some abrasion as well; you don’t have to completely dissolve it before adding it into the water.  The soapy water and the granules act together to get the most bang for your buck!

5. That’s it! Now let the detergent do it’s thing for the next 6-10 hours. It’s probably best just to leave it be overnight and give it enough time to really loosen all that caked on grease and grime.

6. The next morning drain the tub and give the racks a quick wipe and dry before putting them back into the oven.

It’s important to note that you should NEVER leave your oven racks in the oven during the self-cleaning cycle – it can strip the chrome off the rack and permanently damage it – the oven self cleaning feature is not designed to clean the racks and besides, this method is so easy it’s like they clean themselves anyway.  If you have an oven with coil burners, you can throw your drip pans in the tub as well overnight, I mean, why not?

The comment question this week is: what should YOU be cleaning more than you actually do? Leave your stories in the comment box below – or just say hi!  I LOVE reading what you guys have to say.

Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. That’s the hard way. The easy way to clean oven racks is to put them in a plastic garbage bag and spray them with oven cleaner. 12-24 hours later lay them in the driveway and spray them with water until all of the oven cleaner is gone.

    My grandmother was using that trick 50 years ago.

  2. Cleaning my oven is my most hated chore. I actually enjoy cleaning most of the time and find it to be therapeutic. Not so with the oven but it is so necessary. Thanks for sharing this awesome tip!

  3. Queation how to clean Gas ovens and gas stoves?

    My oven isn’t self cleaning and I have gas burners with really burned into covers that you l;ay your pots on to cook.

  4. That’s the hard way. The easy way is to put the racks in a garbage bag and take them outside. Spray the racks heavily with oven cleaner and seal the bag. 10-20 hours later open the bag, dump the racks in the driveway, and spray with the garden hose until all the oven cleaner is gone, along with the ick that was on the racks.

    Some people put ammonia in the bag with the racks. If its winter in your area you can rinse the racks in the bathtub instead of outdoors.

  5. I gather from what you wrote here that you’re one of the many who now distinguish machine from hand dish detergents by writing “dish detergent” and “dish soap”, respectively. Even the makers of hand dishwashing liquids have mostly switched from labeling them “detergent” to “soap”. “Detergent” is a more general term applying to anything for cleaning, so that term includes soaps, but they muddy the dishwater, so to speak, by calling soapless products “soap”. In an application like this, a mistake isn’t so costly, but everybody knows stories of people who’ve sudsed up their kitchen with the hand stuff in the machine. So please write “machine” or “hand” in the future.

    Also, abrasiveness doesn’t help if you’re just soaking. And laundry powders won’t scratch bathtubs, but some machine dish detergents may, because laundry detergents aren’t abrasive but some machine dish detergents are.


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