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How do you clean your oven racks?

September 11, 2006

I just ran the self-cleaning feature on my Gaggenau oven but the directions say to remove the racks. The oven is now spotless but the racks a mess. My first thought was to use steel wool pads but I'm afraid it will scratch them, making future cleaning even harder.

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Comments (71)

  • albert_135   39.17°N 119.76°W 4695ft.

    Someone mentioned soaking in the bathtub. I have done that.

    Someone mention power wash after soaking. I wonder -- some power washers might do the job without soaking.

  • trekker

    Put the oven racks into a large, heavy plastic bag, spray them with Easy Off Oven Cleaner -- the stuff that comes in the blue can, not that real toxic stuff that requires the use of gloves. Close up the bag, leave it overnight or longer. All the crud should wash off easily. Better rinse in the tub or shower because you don't want that gunk going down the storm drain to the ocean. Oven cleaner works great for baked-on crud, but don't use it on aluminum.

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  • ysop1016

    After spending an hour scrubbing and using a razor blade on the oven rack which stilled looked awful, I read your post. I put another one in a garbage bag with the oven spray overnight. This a.m. the crud just rinsed off. It looks brand-new. Thank you for sharing the great tip.

  • stir_fryi SE Mich

    I hate ammonia -- the smell is just awful.

    Does anyone have any tips for getting the inside glass oven window really clean?

  • mara_2008

    I usually just leave them in the oven while it is self-cleaning. Yes, this discolors them a bit, but they are clean afterward.

    I know Heloise advocates the ammonia in a trash bag idea. I like the d/w detergent tip, too. I think I'll try it, since I have a new oven. Thanks, Kristiann. :-)

  • bodesode

    I left my racks in the oven and now they are dull and do not slide. Any suggestions on how to help them slide again? They stick awfully.

  • myclementine

    I would love to know how to clean the inside of the glass as well - on the door. How does that get dirty anyway? I am going to go clean my oven now after reading this thread. And I will try the rack in the bag method.

  • lolli77

    If you have a self-cleaning oven, this is the best way to clean the racks and it will keep them shiney and new-looking. Granted, you have to have the right equipment, but it was done with very little effort. Take your racks and place them in the bathtub which is lined with an old throw-away towel. Turn the water to the hottest and fill to cover completely. Add a cup of dishwashing powder and let them soak for a few hours or even overnight. After they have soaked, take them outside and pressure wash.

    When I dry mine, I usually notice about 6-8 little black pieces that didn't come off. I use a little knife, and they just pop off. No scrubbing, no rubber gloves, no newspapers, no fumes or bad smells. You just throw away the towel, and rinse out the tub. My racks are shiny and look like new.

  • tracey_b

    I'm about to clean my oven for the first time--I won't say how old it is :-). Actually, it's not too bad, thank goodness.

    I already have the inside of the glass clean. I tried what I read elsewhere on this forum, combining suggestions into this: Wet the glass with vinegar then liberally coated it with baking soda and let it sit a few hours. I scrubbed with a scrubbie, but that didn't do too much. I then tried a razor blade scraper and it got right through the moistened splatter/streaks. I followed up with a repeat of the first attempt and it's spotless now.

    I've never used the self-cleaning option before, so it sort of scares me (might wait til hubby gets home from his trip before I run it).

    Now to clean the racks. I think I'll try the dishwasher detergent first (no bad fumes), but have to go buy the powder type since I use the liquid in my d/w. However, if I have to resort to the ammonia, can anyone tell me where it's safe to dispose of the used ammonia? I'm guessing down the drain?

    Oh, another question about the ammonia method. Do the racks have to be submerged in the ammonia or do fumes contribute to the cleaning power? Can the ammonia be "re-used" on the burner grates (gas stove top) which have caked on black gunk in the hard-to-reeach corners?


  • gkline

    I just cleaned my oven and used Kristiannes' method of the dishwasher granules in the bathtub for the racks, OMG what a way to go! No muss, No fuss. I did lay an old towel in the bottom of the tub to protect it. Everything melted off within an hour! I wiped them down with a sponge and rinsed and dried, they sparkle like brand new! The tub rinsed right out without any mess or ring either! Also Maryannes' idea to use the stove top cleaner/polish on inside door and window is genius! Thanks soooo much, I'm telling all my friends. I clean houses and my client's will be so happy!

  • grannysmith18

    Like Bodesode, my racks also don't slide anymore. anything that might help? I don't want to use silicone spray because I'll be outting food in that oven :-), and something like vegetable oil will burn on.

  • mandilyn

    My (GE) manual recommends using veg or cooking oil (on a paper towel to wipe the rack edges) to make them slide again after a self-cleaning cycle. I take my racks out for the SC cycle but if I had to, I'd use a tiny amount of oil so it didn't smoke horribly when heated.

  • doingygirl

    I just saw this thread after I had posted a similar question on the "kitchen forum". Most of my questions have been answered, but I still have a few more. My oven is not self cleaning and the inside is porcelain enamel. Does anyone know what might work well for baked in stains? I'm also wondering if easy off would be safe to use on the porcelain enamel. The stove top surface is stainless steel. The bon ami worked pretty well, but I still have some faint brown colored stains from some sauce my husband let spill over and catch on fire. I'm also looking for advise on what works best to clean the cast ion grates (probably an SOS pad). The stove is fairly new so I just don't want to damage it.

  • piegirltoo

    The powdered dishwasher detergent method did not work for me (used Cascade Complete). Next up: Easy Off oven cleaner...

  • blairgirl

    I put them in a trash bag, spray them with over cleaner, seal up the bag and let them sit overnight. Next day, just rinse. Everything falls right off and they're perfect.

  • chris

    I use Dawn Power Dissolver. It is sold at WalMart...paid $2.62 for it today. Take oven racks and put them where you have a large area...bathtub or driveway. I put mine just across my sink and sprayed away. It took 15 min and I was able to wash it all right off with very little light wiping. Some smaller areas took another treatment. The Power Dissolver is a pretreat for dishes and pans. It is sold not where the liquid detergent is, but where the Jet Dry etc is.

  • saferproducts

    Okay, I know it was identified as "spam" - which I still am oblivious to, but I am curious. I refuse to use Easy-Off because of how toxic that stuff is. But, I need to figure out something to use. I have been running the self-cleaning cycle, but I just do not feel like it works that well. I would like a more natural approach to cleaning my oven than Easy-Off, or anything that uses chemicals or emits toxins. Please help!! Does steam cleaning really work in the oven?? Any other suggestions?? I know I cannot be the only person out there who wants an alternative to the dangerous products.

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you 100x's over for the tip with the dishwasher soap!!! I couldn't believe the reusults after 20 minutes. The grime literally lifted away. I used 3 dishwasher tablets. All I can say is A-MA-ZING. Thank you, thank you, thank you :)

  • barbara

    An easy way to clean your oven is:

    3 teaspoons baking soda (Bi Carb)
    1 tablespoon vinegar
    1 cup water

    Bring to boil and paint on oven. Heat oven to 350degrees F. Let oven cool and then wipe out.

  • SharperClean

    I tried the ammonia and trash bag thingy a couple of weeks ago when I cleaned my oven and was surprised how well that worked. I put it outside on the patio over night and what little junk was left on them, was easy to wipe off.

  • joe_mn

    i have stainless gas grill grates. its the vee style slats, not a rod or tubular style. i use spray oven cleaner and put them in a plastic bag. takes a day or 2. the top surface seems to clean ok but the underside is untouched. out of sight, out of mind but i want to clean it also. just spray and let it sit some more?

  • kelly

    Well im giving the bath tub with DW powder in it. I didnt have the granulated stuff, only those power ball things, so put two in. Hope it works. Will check and update in the morning. Thanks so much!! :D

  • Rita Bee

    i use spray oven cleaner. it is easy to clean

  • pandorathecat

    The dishwaser detergent in the bathtub trick really worked! My rack is cleaned only twice a year even though my oven is used regularly. I use only 1 rack all of the time so I don't have to bother with cleaning more than one. The unused ones are not stored in the oven so they don't get dirty. I used only 1/2 cup of Cascade and a SOS pad and soaked for only 2 hours in very hot water. My drain slowed because of the SOS debris and I had to use Liquid Plumber. Doubling the Cascade and a longer soak would've probably eliminated the need for the SOS pad. Anyway, this method was great and did not harm the finish on my porcelain tub which was a concern of mine. I wouldn't hesitate to do this again.

    About cushioning the racks in the tub, I used sponges on the four corners. Since I use microfiber cloths for almost everything now, I almost threw the sponges out. So glad I saved them. It was so easy to rinse them out instead of a towel. I didn't feel comfortable throwing the towel in the wash with any residual dishwashing detergent still on it.

    Thanks to kristianne for the cleaning tip posted 5-1/2 years ago.

  • holly_bc

    And Thank YOU pandorathecat for mentioning what by now - at 63 years - should have been a no brainer. :-) Why am I putting two racks in the oven (to get dirty) when I mostly ever use one? I actually have three but have always stored the 3rd one but why don't I store two? Seems a simple concept I should have picked up on several decades ago. LOL!! TY for sharing that.
    I do use the amonia/towel/bathtub method which works pretty well if the racks aren't totally gross. I may give the DW detergent method a go next time just to see if it does a better job. At the least it won't be so overpowering odour wise. :-)

  • pandorathecat

    You're welcome holly! Sometimes it's the simple solutions that can be so elusive. For the longest time, I couldn't find a hair trap to fit over my tub drain. I always had to "make do" with less than ideal traps. Most of them are too short and the ones that fit usually shrink in height over time. There's a knob on my drain that prevents traps from sitting totally flush on the tub floor. Well, I finally figured out that all I had to do was cut a small hole in the trap (cut away little by little for a tight fit) so that now it fits perfectly and the trap sits flush on the floor allowing it to do what it's supposed to do: trap hair! It was worth the frustration because it led me to find a solution using one of the better hair traps on the market. I don't think I'll ever need Drano again for slow drains caused by hair. So you see, a simple concept eluded me too! :)

  • qmarker

    I'm one of the amonia and plastic bag fans. It works like a charm and I do it outside on a sunny day and just leave it lay there. By the way, the same method will do wonders for your grill grates.

    I also buy the janitorial amonia from Ace Hardware. It really does the job.

  • emma

    I leave them in the oven when I set the oven to clean. Their color changes, but that's okay with. I have cleaned enough ovens in my day.

  • aivlis154

    I have only ever used ammonia. fill laundry tub with hot water and litre of ammonia, completely cover racks, let soak for a few hours or overnight. if tub is not large enough to cover completely, rotate after a few hours, then a metal scourer to scrub, very easy. do this only in a well ventilated room

  • jlroberts608

    I decided to try the bathtub with powdered dishwasher soap also. I literally just started the process. I didn't have "powdered" but I had Finish PowerBall tablets, so I put them in a bag and crushed them (it took 9 to get a full cup) then added it to my steaming hot water and what happened next amazed me! As soon as the powder hit the water the water instantly turned brown and gunk started floating off, if it did that within seconds I'm willing to bet it will continue to work wonders! Not sure if its for all ovens but one reason they say to pull the racks out during self cleaning is because the high heat makes metal expand, and sometimes that will warp your racks (I experienced this first hand once, it stinks having warped racks), so I never leave my racks in the oven anymore. :-) I will post a follow up when the process is finished, I just wanted to thank you for posting the suggestion and I'm excited to see the final outcome! :-)

  • Divyah

    First remove them from the oven ,put them in a trash bag with 1 cup of ammonia and seal them for overnight.Next day scrub them with hot water. simple n easy way ...

  • yorkie_gal

    Boy, I'm glad that the Powdered Dish Soap method was posted here for me to find. Wish I had known about this this 40 years ago! I just laid towels on the bottom of the tub, as to not scratch it, added enough water to cover the racks and added the Powdered Dish Soap. I let them soak all day while I worked. Great timing for all of this weeks baking coming up. If a pie boils over it won't bother me in the least.

  • dollvegas

    The other day we had a mess from some Taco dinner and our daughter said mom just let them soak and Dawn (dish soap) would do the job.
    So today I was reading all the posts on oven racks and I thought by golly I am going to try the Dawn dish soap and I let the racks sit in the hot Dawn soap water for 30 minutes and oh my they came out wonderful. This really surprised me. I did take an sos pad on the really tuff burnt on, but that came off good too. I also like the posting why leave all the racks in the oven as you don't use them all very often and that would save a lot of work.

  • vandymadre

    I'd like to try the bath-tub method - but am wondering if any of you have tried it with roll-out racks. I don't want to damage how easily they now roll in and out, and am wondering about leaving them in a tub of water that long.

  • happyabode

    I used the ammonia technique with one of my racks and it took the finish off and dulled them drastically. I would not suggest this method. The first two racks I just put some elbow grease, hot water and sos pad to them - they are beautiful. I was looking for the easy way out with the ammonia. Doesn't even look the same as the others.

  • yorkie_gal

    Vandyadre, I do use the Bathtub soaking method, Soap only NO Amonia, for my rollout racks and they seem to work the same as they always have.

  • dmason1954

    I was told for a quick clean of an oven to put vinegar soaked paper towels in it - what I wasn't to,e was to remove the oven racks. They are now discoloured. Any suggestions on how to get the shine back on these racks?

  • Cape Carol

    With all these helpful hints I hate to admit I just leave them in when I self clean which is not that often. Yes they do lose their shine but they still work. I have one of those drip sheets that collects whatever spills over & keeps my oven floor clean. I tried the ammonia or white vinegar in black plastic bags in the sun & I was not impressed. So they just stay in the oven.

  • jm22

    I just cleaned my oven racks as recommended in some of the other comments. I did not have the powdered dishwasher detergent so I broke up two dishwasher tablets with a hammer and placed it in the tub with hot running water. I also added some dawn dish washing detergent and placed the racks in the tub for an hour. After an hour I took the scrub side of a sponge and wiped down the racks to get the grime off and it came right off! For a few of the tougher spots I used a wire grill brush and lightly brushed them off. Rinsed them and they are like new. I liked this much better than dealing the the fumes from ammonia.

  • regina1121

    Wondering.... If its the ammonia fumes that clean the oven racks can i just sit a cup of ammonia in the bag without pouring it in the bag? the bags leaks and is a pain to remove the racks with out getting ammonia every where. has anyone tried to just sit a cup of ammonia in the bag with the oven racks??

  • sushipup1

    Yes, do NOT pour the ammonia out of the cup; just set the cup in the bag/ That's what I have always done and it works fine. Just put the whole thing in a place where it won't be disturbed. I use a glass measuring cup, about 1/2 cup of ammonia.

  • regina1121

    Sushipup1 - thank you, this is what i will do in the future and save myself a lot of problems and mess :)

  • Derrick L

    Never keep your racks in the oven during a self clean. They will expand and be hard to pull in and out from that point on. Also damage the side walls of oven due to that fact. SOS pads + chore boy + elbow grease gets them clean, rinse well.

  • ssdarb

    I just used the bathtub + hot water + powdered dishwasher detergent method. I didn't want to actually lay them in the bathtub, so I put them in a large rubbermaid storage box, in the bathtub in case of a leak, and just rotated the racks after a few hours. They are as clean as the day I bought the oven 5 years ago! NO hard scrubbing! I'm very happy today! One nasty chore behind me.

  • cam06

    Has anyone had experience using either ammonia or powdered dishwasher detergent in a plastic bathtub? It is probably acrylic or fiberglass - it is the original tub from 1983. I am concerned that either method may discolor or corrode the tub. I would use the towels to prevent scratching.

  • sushipup1

    Put the racks and the ammonia into a large black plastic garbage bag. And the ammonia isn't loose in the bag; set a 1/2 cup or so upright (careful so it doesn't spill) and let the fumes do the work.

  • ssdarb

    I did it that way and it worked perfectly. After reading several threads about this on gardenweb, I decided to use hot water and powdered dishwasher detergent. I didn't feel comfortable using ammonia, and I had the detergent on hand, so decided to try that way first.

    I put a large plastic container in my tub, filled the container with hot water, sprinkled a lot of Cascade into the hot water, stirred it around, and placed the racks into it.

    Immediately, black gunk started separating from the racks and floating in the water (first picture below was taken only a few seconds after placing the racks in). I left the racks in there for a few hours, and then rotated them and repeated the process with more fresh water and detergent (because they were too long to fit completely). When done, I took them outside and hosed them off. There were just a few spots that I lightly scrubbed to get all the gunk off, but no hard scrubbing. It worked great and was very easy. The second picture is the final result.

    I guess I could have placed the racks into the tub directly, but I just wasn't sure if it would scratch.

  • cam06

    Thanks sushipup1. I did this and it did work. i did have to use some elbow gease and a scrub sponge to get the gunk off but it came off more easily than if I had not used the ammonia in the bag. Now that I know this method I will do this more frequently so perhaps it won't take as much work as it did this time. Also I'm going to store my 3rd oven rack!

  • Eluhy

    I just cleaned mine in the tub last night: old towel below the racks to prevent scratching, hot water to cover the racks, sprinkled granular automatic dishwater detergent over the racks (used about 1/2 cup), and threw in a couple of dryer sheets (info from another website, have no idea why this works). This morning, I used the dryer sheets to wipe off the racks. Amazing! The cooked-on hard grease just wiped right off. They're virtually spotless and I didn't scratch the tub or the racks. This process definitely works. Just be a bit careful with the tub water since automatic detergent has bleaching agents in it that might damage your clothes. You won't need to break a sweat cleaning your racks, but don't wear your favorite jeans either.

  • Marcia

    I used the ammonia-in-a-plastic-bag method. I now have dull racks that have black/grey marks all over then that do not clean or scrub off. I researched (too late) online and found a source on a car forum that states to NEVER use ammonia on chrome. It will dull and darken it. Am I wrong that oven racks are chromed, and not stainless steel? Is there some other explanation?

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