Cleaning oven racks can be a lengthy, miserable job… messy, too, if you use oven cleaners, ammonia, or even steel wool pads. However, there is another EASY way to get oven racks sparkling clean that takes almost no effort at all. It also doesn’t involve chemicals or toxic substances.
This is an overnight process. In the evening just put the dirty oven racks in the bathtub and fill the tub with enough hot water so the racks are completely submerged. For this to work, the water needs to be very, very hot. Using water that is warm, not hot, does not give the same results. I add regular laundry detergent to the water. You can also use the granulated-type dishwashing detergent, but I think the laundry detergent does a better job. Be sure to put down an old towel or something soft to protect the bottom of the tub from scratches before you put in the racks. Slosh the detergent around in the water, check to be sure that the racks are completely submerged, shut off the water, and go to bed.
In the morning you will find that the baked-on grime that was on the oven racks has already dissolved overnight in the water and detergent and can be easily rinsed away. All that’s left to do is to rinse the racks and dry them with a soft cloth.
Additional note: I have a self-cleaning oven, but I never use the self-cleaning feature because I also have birds. For you non-bird people, the super high temperatures reached during the self-cleaning cycle react with the oven coating and create the same type of fumes that are given off by overheated Teflon-coated cookware. Both types of fumes can cause immediate bird death, even when the bird is not in the same room, so using Teflon-coated cookware and the self-cleaning feature on my stove are no longer options for me. Although I have to clean the oven manually, I find that as long as I clean up any spills when they happen, it is never that big a deal.