Are you neglecting your oven racks? Here’s an easy how to clean oven racks without a bathtub or harsh chemicals.

How to clean oven racks without a bathtub or harsh chemicals

How Often Should I Clean the Oven?

According to most experts, ovens should be cleaned every 3 months or more if you use the oven often. Of course, clean the oven if something spilled over and is causing it to smoke. We don’t want to set off the smoke alarms or burn the house down.

Although it’s a chore, I do try to clean my oven every 3 months. I found that cleaning the oven regularly prevents a thick grime build-up and makes cleaning it easier. Besides, modern oven cleaners are wonderful and they practically do all the work for you. Just follow the directions, wait, and wipe the oven clean!

Clean oven racks in oven.
Clean oven racks in oven.

How to Clean Oven Racks with Chain Mail Scrubber

A while ago I added a new cast iron pan to my cooking tools. I wanted to make sure I kept it in the best condition and bought a chain mail scrubber, which is a sponge covered in chain metal to help keep cast iron pans clean. It’s a game changer and I use it to clean the bottoms of my stainless steel pans and anything metal that needs to be scrubbed clean.

Chain mail scrubber
Cast iron chain mail scrubber.

So I thought, why not use it to clean my oven racks?! And guess what? The chain mail scrubber removed the baked on grease and grime! Yes, I did ‘scrub’ the racks, but it was quick (no overnight soaking), didn’t take a huge amount of effort, and no harsh chemicals!

I did add some Dawn dish liquid to the sponge and in hindsight, I wish I had used a paste of Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser and Dawn dish liquid. I think the paste and chain mail scrubber would have made cleaning the oven racks even easier!

What you’ll need:

Cleaning steps:

Cleaning theoven rack with a chain mail scrubber
Use Dawn soap and chain mail scrubber to clean oven rack. You can clearly see the area that was scrubbed versus where there is still baked on grease.

Step 1. Place the oven rack over the sink or do this outside. Wet the oven rack and chain mail scrubber.

Bar Keepers Friend and Dawn dish liquid paste

Step 2. Apply a bit of Dawn dish liquid to the scrubber. If there is a thick build-up of baked-on grease, make a paste with Dawn dish liquid and Bar Keepers Friend to use with the scrubber. Note: If you DO NOT have a self-cleaning oven, you can leave the racks inside the oven and spray with oven cleaner to loosen the grease. Let the cleaner sit as directed. Then, remove the oven racks and scrub with the chain mail scrubber. Make sure you wear gloves if using oven cleaner and the chain mail scrubber.

Shown using the chain mail scrubber on the other oven rack bars. You can see in the video the center bar is nice and clean and the burnt on grease comes right off the oven racks with minimal effort. This was done using only Dawn dish liquid and the scrubber.

Step 3. Using a tiny bit of pressure, scrub the oven rack with the chain mail scrubber. It will take between 10-20 minutes per rack. Depending on how soiled your oven racks are, it may take longer. Rinse and wipe dry.

Why Do I Clean My Oven Racks This Way?

Partially cleaned oven rack
What oven rack looked like partially cleaned with chain mail scrubber.

I don’t have a self-cleaning oven, so I don’t have to remove my oven racks when cleaning wtih an oven cleaner. I can leave my oven racks in the oven to let the oven cleaner help break down the grease before using a scrubber. Unfortunately, I took my oven racks out and ended up scouring the internet for ‘how to clean oven racks’ ideas. It was a brain fart moment, but it led me to this easy oven rack cleaning method.

Anyway, I found several oven rack cleaning methods, but there were two that seemed the most popular. The first oven cleaning rack method is done in the bathtub and the second is done using ammonia. I’ve tried both of these cleaning methods and will share why I decided not to use these methods.

Two Popular Oven Rack Cleaning Methods (I didn’t use)

Bathtub Oven Rack Cleaning Method

How to clean oven racks in the bathtub
How to clean oven racks in the tub.

Soaking the oven racks in a bathtub is the most popular cleaning method. To clean oven racks in the tub, you’ll need to place a towel in your bathtub to prevent it from getting scratched and then place your oven racks on it. Then, fill the tub with hot water, mix in 1 cup of dish powder detergent (sub with laundry detergent), and leave the oven racks to soak overnight. The next day, use a scrub sponge to scrub off what’s on the rack.

I’ve tried this method and I don’t like having to soak the oven racks overnight (so I can’t use my oven) AND having to still scrub the oven racks.

Ammonia Oven Rack Cleaning Method

How to clean oven racks with ammonia
How to clean oven racks with ammonia.

Place the oven racks inside of a heavy-duty trash bag (if using regular trash bags, double it) and add ammonia until it fills the bottom of the bag when lying flat. The racks do not need to be fully submerged as the ammonia fumes will help loosen the baked on grease and grime. Close it up and let it sit overnight. The ammonia and its fumes will loosen any grease from the racks and it wipes right off with a scrub sponge. Note: Ammonia is water-soluble and can be disposed of down the drain. Just make sure you use a lot of water to dilute it.

I have tried this method and it works, but it’s messy and you have to be very cautious. I would not recommend this for anyone with breathing issues and this method must be done outdoors. I would also highly recommend using gloves and eyewear as ammonia can cause skin burns and damage the eyes.

What’s your favorite way to clean oven racks? Let me know in the comments below!

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