Cleaning Oven Racks with Dryer Sheets (+ Video)
Want to know how to clean oven racks the easy way? See the best cleaning method for the dirty racks using dryer sheets and hot water in a bathtub!
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Have you ever met somebody that actually likes cleaning an oven? I don't think I have. It's simply not fun. Some cleaning tasks I can get behind (I actually like vacuuming), but oven cleaning isn't one of them.
So, I try to make it as easy and as painless as possible. Cleaning the oven is on my Journey to Clean monthly tasks during the kitchen week, so it's something I've at least got to think about once a month. I don't do what you'll see in this post every month – that would be way too much work!
Most of the time, when that task comes around on the cleaning schedule, I make sure there aren't any big spills. I also ensure that my stove is nice and clean. But, every few months, I'll give the oven a deep clean – it usually only needs it that often.
As you can see, it needs cleaning. It's just not too dirty. Many of you know I'm a big Instant Pot fan; the oven isn't something I use every night. Your mileage may vary...if you see that your oven needs a monthly cleaning, by all means, go for it!
Easy Method for Cleaning Oven Racks
Step 1: Remove dirty racks from oven
By far, the dirtiest thing in my oven is always the racks. I'm pretty good at managing spills, but the racks usually take the brunt of my messes. There is usually lots of baked on food and grease stains.
You'll see that I have a somewhat unconventional way of cleaning these wire racks. I read this weird trick online a few years ago, and crazy enough, it works! This is the best way to clean oven racks that I've encountered, even if it is a little strange.
Step 2: Place oven racks in a tub with hot water
Remove the oven racks (I have a double oven, so I have 4) and place in the biggest bathtub you have. Fill with the hottest water you can...only enough to completely cover the racks. Hot water will help break up some of the gunkier spots.
Step 3: Add dryer sheets
This is where it gets weird. Take 8-10 dryer sheets and throw them in the tub. Trust the process here - this is the most effective way to clean oven racks that I've found.
Allow this to sit (no need to mix) for a few hours. The amount of time it takes for a clean cycle to run on your oven is perfect.
Step 4: Wipe down oven racks with the used dryer sheets
After a few hours, use the wet dryer sheets to scrub the grease and grime off of your oven racks. Most of it should fall right off, making oven rack cleaning a breeze! I didn't wear rubber gloves for this, but you might want to consider them. There will be a lot of grime floating in your water.
This is after I wipe the racks with almost no pressure. There's something about the fabric softeners in the dryer sheets that takes baked-on messes off of stainless steel.
I usually have to also use a melamine sponge to get the really stubborn messes off. (Of course you can use the brand name Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, but I order my melamine sponges from Amazon. They're just as good as the name brand, but so much cheaper!)
The dryer sheets help break up the grime, so it's easier to scrub the gunk off than if you didn't soak your racks. (And, for really stubborn messes, a small scrub brush or bristle brush helps.) You can also use a scrub brush, scouring pad, or an old toothbrush.
Step 5: Rinse oven racks well and dry
Once you've scrubbed your oven racks really well, drain the bathtub. Make sure and spray the oven racks down with water to remove any extra film or residue from the dryer sheets.
This won't 100% make your racks look brand new. I don't know that this is possible without hours and hours of scrubbing. If you're willing to do that, go for it, but it's just not worth that to me. I want them to be clean, but I'm not looking for perfection.
(And one more note: I do switch out the racks in my double oven when I clean them. I rarely use the bottom oven, so if I didn't do this, there would be one set of racks that was way dirtier than the other.)
While You're Waiting for Oven Racks to Soak...
You'll need to wait a few hours to let the oven racks soak in the tub...might as well clean your oven while you're waiting! Now, if you're lucky enough to have a cleaning cycle on your oven, this is a no-brainer. The cleaning cycle gets the inside of the oven extremely hot for a few hours to basically turn any messes into ash. This makes it so simple to wipe any oven grime away.
You'll need to pick a day you're going to be home for awhile and, preferably, a cooler day. The oven cleaning cycle makes the house really hot!
Wait until that oven cleaning cycle finishes and your oven cools down enough to not burn you (but is still warm). Then, give everything a good spray with a white vinegar/water combo. Scrub any leftover stains with a melamine sponge.
I like to keep harsh chemicals to a minimum when cleaning my oven. You don't want any of those chemicals baking and releasing fumes into your home, you know? Many people swear by commercial oven cleaners. But, I've found that white vinegar works well for this task.
I usually have to go over glass stains a few times, as they tend to be the most stubborn. The melamine sponge takes those stains right off.
Then, it's as simple as wiping any leftover ash out of the inside of the oven!
If you don't have a self-cleaning oven, there are still easy options for cleaning the inside!
Don't worry; it's not difficult to clean an oven that doesn't have a self-cleaning function. You might have seen the method of making a baking soda paste and smothering it all over the inside of the oven. I don't recommend this method at all.
I've tried it and, trust me when I say that you will be cleaning baking soda out of corners of your oven for months. The baking sod bake onto the heating element and cause a fire. It's also almost impossible to completely wipe away. Try this baking soda method at your own risk.
Instead, I like cleaning an oven using the steam method. Fill an oven-safe dish with half white vinegar/half water. You can start with warm water or even boiling water before putting it in the oven. This is not necessary (it will speed up the process, though).
Set your oven to 400 degrees and allow the mixture to boil for 30 minutes or so, creating steam. At that point, cut the oven off and leave the vinegar/water solution in the oven for a few hours.
Next, use your melamine sponge and a little bit of elbow grease to scrub any baked-on stains. The steam does a great job of breaking up cooked on food and grease stains in the oven. At this point, it's ok to use a paste made out of baking soda and water to scrub especially stubborn stains!
You can even sprinkle a little bit of baking soda over and gunk, then scrub with an old toothbrush. I just don't recommend caking any kind of baking soda paste over the surfaces of the entire oven.
One note: you can avoid much of this oven cleaning by putting a layer of aluminum foil at the bottom of your stove. No, it's not the prettiest thing, but it's an inexpensive way to keep your oven spills to a minimum.
Cleaning the outside of your stove
Once the interior of the oven is clean, you're finally to the easy part (and the part that I do every month)! Give the oven door's glass a wipe with your vinegar/water combo and a microfiber cloth. I love that these cloths get glass streak-free without using fancy cleaners.
If you're not looking to spend extra money, an old towel or old rag works fine.
And there you have it...a oven and oven racks clean and ready for another month of cooking! As much as I dislike cleaning an oven, it is nice to have it clean. 😉
With a little maintenance it's really not that bad. Plus, you get to tell people all about the cool way you clean your oven with dryer sheets. 😂
I hope you learned a little bit about how to clean dirty oven racks and the rest of the oven today! Catch up on a few more posts in the Cleaning 101 series with the links below.
I have never used the cleaning setting on my oven; it came with the apartment and had no instructions - is there a reason you can't leave the racks in the oven and have the dirt baked off of them too? I've seen recommendations of using it to clean BBQ grill grates.
Truthfully, I rather like cleaning the oven. Everyone will leave you alone and it is very satisfying when it's finished. I'd rather do it than most other jobs in the kitchen. I may give the self-clean a try when it gets cooler and I can leave the porch door open.
I believe the racks can't withstand that high of a temperature. My oven always instructs me to take the racks out before cleaning...I trust it! 😉 And yes, definitely recommended to do the self cleaning option on cooler days, it can make your home very hot.
Thanks for posting this! This was great!
You are so welcome!
Great info Leslie! I'm definitely giving the dryer sheets a try!
We've always used ammonia for cleaning oven racks but it sounds like the dryer sheets are worth a try! Great tips! Thanks for sharing with us at Creatively Crafty #ccbg 🙂
I am totally trying this, my oven racks are significantly more dirty than yours but if they improve in any way I'll be happy! I'm putting dryer sheets onto my shopping list right now.