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.

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the racks in my oven are very dirty and i keep putting off cleaning them because i’m pregnant and i don’t want to use chemicals. i’m going to try your idea and if it works i will be greatful to you for life!!!!! thanks for a wonderful blog. i looooooooooove it!!


This does sound less toxic than my method. Actually I so rarely bake any more that my oven stays pretty clean, but I have always just put the racks in a double lined large plastic trash bag and poured 1/2 cup ammonia in the bag (outside) and tied it up for about 30 minutes. There is still some scrubbing involved, but they come out sparking clean. Next time I have to clean them I’ll try the tub.

thanks for the great blog. I always enjoy reading and getting inspired!

David M

Just to say a MASSIVE thank you for the tip about the oven cleaning, I had cleaned the oven with CIF oven stuff (we live in Ireland) and plenty of elbow grease, and had started on the oven rack and sides of our NEFF oven (the slots that hold the racks in place and which can, I discovered, be unscrewed). About 5 minutes into the first of 5 racks (including side ones) I thought there MUST be an easier way to do a tough job well, quicker, and so I might actually want to do it again sooner! Found your site by luck, love the concept, shoved an old towel in the bath at 2pm, ran hot water with 2 washing clothes detergent caps full of whatever we use, lay the racks down, went out with the family to a village fair, came back, pulled out the racks and with maybe 10-15 minutes spent on all 5 racks in total, hey presto good as gosh darned new, shining like silver – ours were pretty bad, so for those with better over management it’ll probably take you even less! Thanks and good luck, great not to have wasted my time to little effect.

Carol E.

Thanks for the wonderful tip. Does it matter if it is liquid laundry detergent or granulated detergent? Too bad detergent doesn’t remove grease stains from clothing as well as it does on oven racks…go figure. :)

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Carol, I have used both, and both seem to work well.


Wow! 11 years of barely a wipe down, followed your instructions (in my laundry tub) and presto! Shining like new. I will be passing your tip onto all my friends here in Australia. You are fabulous!


I’m cleaning my oven racks right at this moment using your tip of placing them in the bath tub. I’ve put in two lids of Sards Wonder Power and it looks like it it doing the job. Thank you for making a job i’ve been putting off for so long a little more bearable. Looking forward to my clean oven on the Gold Coast Australia

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Glad I could help! :o)


WOW!!! unbelievable! this DOES work. I pulled them out of the tub in the morning, wiped the few pieces still touching(not stuck on)the rack. That was it. These racks now look like new – shiny and not a speck on them. Thank you, Shirley.


I had three very heavily baked on splatters and grease. I used oven the new Carbona Oven Cleaner (which, by the way, has none of the fumes of others.) It did an adequate job, but still all that scrubbing and reapplication and more scrubbing. Then I saw the blog for the bathtub soak with powered dishwasher detergent.
For the remaining two racks, I filled my sink with very hot water and Dawn dishwashing liquid. Just for luck, I threw in a tablespoon of baking soda. Soaked them for about four hours. Great results. Brown residue just wiped right off.


Thank you, thank you, thank you! This worked amazingly well. I was skeptical but decided to try it and my oven racks have never been as shiny :)


Wow. It worked, quickly, without eating my lungs. Thanks! And, it smells nice which is always a bonus.


This worked great!!! I added some washing soda laundry booster just because my racks were really bad and I wanted to make sure they came out spotless because I was selling my stove. Everything came right off just by rinsing! I work days and my husband works nights, so I put them in a large tote instead of the tub so we could take showers.


I cannot believe it!! I was actually looking for new racks after spending the day yesterday scrubbing out the oven but failing to get the racks clean. I tried your tip today and left them to soak whilst I finished decorating my daughter’s bedroom and lo and behold, they are shining like new. They still required some scrubbing but all the yucky brown marks have gone. Amazing. Thank you so much, this is definitely a tip that I will be passing on!


I did this today, it is amazing! Thank you! I added a squirt of dishwashing detergent because it is tough on grease. Put them in at appx 9 am, took em ot at appx 3 and my oven looks brand new. Love it!


what is the best way to clean the inside of the oven? Thanks for all the posts,I am a regular reader

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Diane, I just use a soft scrubby and soapy water and dry with a soft cloth… I also try to clean up spills as they happen, before they get baked on. For me it’s easier to quick clean something fresh than to have a whole messy oven to clean.


i tried this today but had to make some adjustments… my bathtub does not drain properly (so my family put a platform and we hid our cats litterboxes in there)so i found a large bucket in my garage and rinsed it out, then i put my dirty racks in (my oven has 3) and filled with hot water, then i added 2 large capfuls of my all natural laundry detergent and a little bit of baking powder. then i covered it with a towel… a few hours later (maybe 2 1/2) i pulled the racks out and started wiping the jumk off, it came off pretty easily with barely any scrubbing and a wire brush for the trouble spots. i was very happy with how little work it was, even taking into consideration that i should have gotten a bigger bucket… great advice!


OK, I just read all of this and I am going to try this method tonite. SURE HOPE IT WORKS….My fingers are raw from using brillo pads…Will let you know how it goes…….THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE INFO……


I have a Jenn Air, 3 racks – it is always an arduous task! I love cleaning but not scrubbing and scrubbing… so I too, today – sourced the internet and I’ve got them soaking in my jacuzzi, 2 right now and I’ll do the 3rd later. I am hoping for the same results as everyone else. I’ll let you know. Sunlight Detergent and Oxiclean.


My knuckles are raw – i am so excited to see if this works, I have always sprayed the racks with oven cleaner, rinsed and then scrubbed til the cows came home with SOS soap pads – that black, brown grease takes forever and i can never get the as clean as I’d like. Anyways, they are in the tub, I am going for a long hot shower because the oven racks are in my tub! I checked after 1 hr. and the some of the grease has already come off… i can’t wait for tomorrow morning! Shirley if this works, you will “The Oven Cleaner Goddess” in my books!


Absolutely amazing method!!! Our oven racks had not been cleaned in a very long time (6 years); mainly because we don’t often use the oven since we live in Florida and grill outdoors most of the time. We let them soak overnight and the racks look like new after some moderate scrubbing. Thanks so much!!


My mum has always soaked her oven racks in the laundry tub with laundry detergent overnight before cleaning. I was just about to do the same thing but thought I had better check (have heard you can erode the metal surface of the racks with the wrong solvent). Found your site and now completely confident that i am on the right path! Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Shirley.
Using: Orange Power laundry powder ; Sydney Aus


natural cleaner for ovens=make thick paste with vinegar and baking soda-apply to oven with cheap paint brush-leave it overnight-wipe clean with hot water and cleaning cloth you can throw away-so easy !!


Thank you for all the information here. I wish I could find a “donate” button so I could contribute a bit for all the time and effort of this lovely blog.


Yeehaw!! Bathtub here I come. What a fabulous idea. {00}


Just put mine soaking in liquid ariel and oxiclean, will report back tomorrow. Thanks for tip I certainly will be passing this one on


It worked!!! We moved into a newly built house 3 years ago and I’ve never cleaned the oven racks–until today! Thank you for this green method that really works!


Awesome idea – worked like a charm – I had seriously caked on racks, but they cleaned up nicely. That said, the knuckles/solder point, where the rack lines connect to the main spine are still very hard to clean off, but still 100% easier – THANKS!


Just wondered if this would work for BBQ racks. Has anyone tried it?


Wenda, I have and it worked great. My bbq racks were heavily coated and I used this process twice the first time but they did come cleaner than they had ever been. Since then I’ve been able to keep them clean with periodic soakings.

Katherine S.

Your info made the most sense! I don’t have birds, but very enlightening! Thanks


THANK YOU for this wonderful advice. Our oven smelt bad and I really dreaded using chemical cleaners. Your method has helped produce shiny racks with no bad chemical residue.

Jan NZ

Here is a (less than) 5 minute way to make your oven racks look like new.
1. Put them in the dishwasher.
2. Remove them BEFORE the drying cycle. If you don’t, the gunk will bake on again.
3. Give them a quick rub with a scouring pad.(2 minutes max.)

I did this with 10 year baked on gunk and the result was perfect.

Megan G.

Wow, what an awesome idea! I have never though about using laundry detergent for my oven cleaning nightmares. I also agree that prevention and immediate spill cleaning make life easier in the long term.

vicky b

Thank you so much for alerting me to the harmful fumes from the self cleaning oven I had no idea!! I will look up more natural ways of cleaning my oven, Vicky


I have lived in this house for 25 years and have two ovens that are continuous cleaning, so I have never cleaned the racks. And they were a mess, but last night I followed your suggestion and it was just like a miracle. I am 79 years old and it is hard for me sometimes to do heavy cleaning, but this worked and it was really easy. Thank you so much for your tip!!

Tanya C

I regularly bake cakes for family events and need a clean oven. (I don’t want remaining residue odours baking into my cakes-gross). I regularly wipe my oven out along with a wipe over of the racks, however they look like they need a deeper clean.
Thanks for your post I will be giving this one a try.


I have cleaned many a oven in my lifetime and this is by far the easiest way to clean the racks. I soaked them over night and they were so clean in the morning. just had a couple spots I had to rub. Was so easy. Thank you for the tip…. I will be sharing.


This tip for cleaning oven racks works like a charm- in only one hour and a quick brushing with a stiff-bristled brush, the racks looked like new.

Jodie H.

Cannot believe how easy it was to use a couple of tablespoons of laundry detergent and hot water to clean my “caked on grease” Wolf oven racks! Soaked overnight and used an old toothbrush and a sturdy dish brush to get sparkling clean the next morning!


Thanks so much for the tip on cleaning. And most importantly, letting people know about the dangers of using an ovens self cleaning feature when you have birds.


your method worked fantastically. Then the light went on in my brain. I’m cleaning 3 racks, when basically, I only use one. Needless to say, I put one back in the oven and stored the other two until I need them.


This worked so well. Thank you!