How To Clean Oven Racks?
By Steven De Nazareth
Updated: June 3rd, 2019
Time in the kitchen can be full of hustle bustle and multi-tasking. Leaving the stove unattended even for a minute while another task in the kitchen calls for attention can cause a liquid to boil over or a pot of veggies to char!
Being on top of everything, all the time is a mighty task. It becomes mightier still when you need to keep an eye on something you have left to bake or roast in a closed box which has the temperature of a furnace.
Cooking is said to be a relaxer of the mind and is a task which enthrals all of our sense. Cleaning up on the other hand, after satisfying the senses, is not a wholly pleasant task.
Let’s talk about one task which is deemed complex in the kitchen cleaning arena — cleaning the oven racks.
Why Do Oven Racks Get Dirty?
The mechanism which an oven employs to cook food, is similar to that of a furnace. The oven envelopes the food entirely with dry heat produced at a very high temperature. Since the food is bombarded with heat from all sides it tends to cook in wholesome manner and is a much faster process than the stove-top. For food to cook one cannot interfere with such a process, lest the heat escapes. As the contents inside the oven cook, they sputter, sizzle, bubble and boil.
Grease and food spills you find on the shelves and walls of your oven are due the food escaping the dishes and plates. For example meats, when cooked, tends to sweat, and secretes grease and juice. These, once released, create a layer of remains left over in the insides of the oven. Similarly, a curry or gravy cooks, it froths, bubbles and boils, resulting in spillage.
And as much as we would love to think that it’s the oven doing mischief and causing gravy and the grease to overflow and fly everywhere, we have to admit that accidental spillage caused by us are as much a part of the mess found on the inside of an oven as anything else.
Even while removing a tray of baked food or a heavy plate of roast, the temperature factor and weight might shake your hand and cause drips and spills. This, while maybe obvious, is also mentioned because the oven door stays shut after use. Hence we often remain oblivious to mess inside. One may not notice such a slight spill, but over time it can collect and cake on the sides and racks.
How To Clean Oven Racks
It is debatable if a pesky task such as that of cleaning each rod on the oven rack can ever become a pleasurable or enjoyable task. But, it sure can be made really easy, at the very least, with these simple affordable hacks and helpful tips.
Give Your Oven Racks A Bubble Bath
Both these procedures are very straightforward and they work best if you have a tub in your house.
Dryer Sheet Bath
Dryer sheets, dish-washing soap, and scrub or sponge.
Place a layer of dryer sheets – around six to eight sheets should do the trick—on the base of the tub and set your oven racks on tops of the sheets.
Plug the tub so that the water does not escape. Turn on the hot water and fill the tub until the racks are submerged under several inches of water. For extra degreasing add approximately 1/4th cup of dish-washing soap.
Leave it to soak overnight.
When the soaking period is over, take a sponge or a scrub, depending upon the layers of the grease, and use it to brush the grease off.
While dish-washing soap is preferable, if the same is unavailable, any soap should work. If one does not have the time to soak the racks overnight, few hours of soaking should work as well. Most often for stubborn spills that have carbonized, the longer you soak it the less you’ll have to scrub. Tubs work best since they provide a large flat area, where the trays can exist for a period of time and not much water is wasted. There’s enough space to move around and a tub’s surface can also bear the heat.
Dryer sheets work wonderfully since the anti-static agents in them weaken the bond between the food and the rack while the fabric softeners softens the charred food particles. Also cleaning up after the grime is off the racks is the easiest since you are already in a tub.
Baking Soda and Ammonia Bath
Baking soda, vinegar, a scrub or an old dishtowel, toothbrush. Kosher salts are optional.
Lay the oven racks on the surface of the tub and sprinkle baking soda without adding any water. After this, douse them with vinegar. Baking soda acts as a cleanser and deodorizer, removing all odor.
Wait for the foaming (caused due to the adding of vinegar) to stops. Fill the tub with several inches of hot water till the rack is submerged under water and soak the racks overnight.
Scrub the racks with an old dishtowel and rid them of grease and grime. For stains which refuse to go away: add kosher salts to create a more abrasive scrubbing system. Toothbrush can also be used for the same purpose.
Rinse the racks thoroughly with water before placing them back in the oven, and make sure they’re dry.
Ammonia Trash Bags
Ammonia, a large trash bag, and a sturdy trash bin.
This procedure is apt for people who need a quick solution which works as well as the ones mentioned above but doesn’t require a bath tub.
In a large trash bag insert the racks and add at least half a quart of ammonia. The trash bag needs to be big enough to envelope the racks entirely. On top of that, it should have some extra space so the fumes can circulate easily and the bag can be knotted/sealed sufficiently well.
Seal the trash bag tightly and place it inside a trash bin. Place the trash bag outside the house.
Let them sit overnight.
With this method the racks don’t need to be flat and coated in ammonia since the fumes of the ammonia travel and circulate all around in the plastic bag. That being said, people have got much better results when the racks are set flat while they are in the trash bags since the ammonia reaches everywhere.
If you are trying out this method, make sure the bag is tightly sealed so that the fumes don’t escape the bags and be sure to place the bag outdoors so that these harmful fumes don’t enter your home.
Next day open the trash bag in a well ventilated space. Wear protective gloves, goggles and clothes you don’t mind discarding. Extract the racks from the trash bag and hose them down thoroughly. You see the baked-on grime dissolve. Once the racks are rinsed and dried, replace them in the oven.
The Lemon Cleanse
You will need only a lemon for this. By far the simplest and quickest method.
Take an oven proof bowl and squeeze an entire lemon into it. After squeezing the juice out, place the lemon rinds in it too and fill 1/3rd of the bowl with water. Place the bowl in the oven and bake at 250 degrees for about thirty minutes.
If the build-up is really bad, you can extend the minutes and increase the quantity of lemon.
The Foil Scrub-down
Foil has many great uses—one of these is that is an ideal option for a scrub. Once can just take those racks, preferably soak or rinse them and then, after removing the excessive water scrub with help of a bundled up piece of foil! You can use a healthy amount of salt or baking soda with the foil instead of a detergent.
One can go about cleaning their oven racks naturally– which just means hard labour and elbow grease. These methods are just as effective as the ones mentioned above when it comes to cleaning. They don’t damage your skin or cause rashes, and let’s face it, we do want to scrub off the grease but not the skin off of our hands.
In fact, the reason these methods are the best is because they are not toxic. Unlike the usual commercial cleansers, they are safe to use in ovens without worrying about complete sanitization before you start cooking again.
Don’t forget to do a deep clean of the oven and maintain it well enough to ensure that you continue baking for the heart and soul.
Why Cleaning Oven Racks Is Important
An oven is the easiest thing one can forget to clean. As soon as the baked food is out of the oven, the lid is shut, the mess is not even visible anymore! Here is the best way to clean oven racks.
Here are some things you need to keep in mind just in case you think about delaying the oven cleanse which your kitchen and your home needed desperately.
If you were to ask your average firefighter as to how many calls he responded to because of an oven fire, assuredly the number would be much higher than you’d have guessed. Stating the obvious, while working at severely high temperatures with old food stuck to your cooker’s grill can cause a number of fire hazard situations. Any grease collected in your cooker will often stick to hot plate grills and metal trays will continually keep burning. Charred particles easily catch fire, especially as they continue to carbonize.
Time And Efficiency
Once the grease and the grime settles on the shelves and walls of your oven, there is no fix until you scrub that oven clean. On the one hand accumulated old grime, grease, charred food particles and leftover baked-on food interferes with the flavor of any new food item you will try to bake. The fumes of the old grease are not good for health as well.
Not the favorable kind of smoky flavor, it would seem. The continuous burning grime creates carbon-based fumes which will alter the flavor of bread, cake and anything else you put in the oven. On the other hand, the grease doesn’t let the oven function at its best. It’ll take longer for the food to cook whilst also wasting energy. As the grit and grime accumulate, the cooker’s heat sources work harder to heat the food. Grease can also obstruct the heat source and vents, restricting its ability to function smoothly.
This could be dangerous if you are working according to timers since the oven won’t be working up to mark and the food could be left undone. For example if you are roasting a chicken, it is important that the meat is completely cooked or it could result in food poisoning.
Apart from this the heating up of old burnt food and grease will lead to an unpleasant odour hanging about the kitchen which only spreads to the rest of the house as time progresses. Your oven may also start giving out a steady stream of smoke which is never pleasant.
Regardless of all of these points, the most important one is the fact that one day, you will have to clean oven racks and it is better if that day is sooner rather than later. With each passing day, these marks and grease become more and more stubborn.
Safety Tips While Cleaning Oven Racks
Self-Cleaning Oven Racks
While self-cleaning ovens are all the rage, they only clean the inner body of the oven and the cleaning of other components, like the oven racks, still remain a hassle and follow the same procedure. This is because the entire self-cleaning procedure works by super-heating the oven (double or triple of the temperature required for cooking). The heat is so high, that it burns the baked on food, oil, grease and gunk and reduce it to dry ashes.
People look at self-cleaning procedure as an easy way out to cleanoven racks but often regret doing so because the protective surface (usually chrome-plating) takes a huge hit when it gets overheated. Once oven racks are subjected to self-cleaning, a visible amount of discolouration of metal is seen and they lose their sheen. The shiny protective layer is designed to facilitate a smooth sliding movement and the damage to this layer results in unwanted friction.
While buying and using self-cleaning ovens, one needs to be careful as to what kind of oven they are buying and the functions it supports or does not support.
For example, while some manufacturers clearly mention that the oven racks must be removed from the appliance. This is done before they activate self-cleaning in the oven, other companies, whose racks are made differently, allow it. A slip in such a process can permanently damage parts of the oven.
Both Whirlpool and Samsung highly recommend entirely dismantling the racks from ovens prior to cleaning. On the other hand, GE says that it’s safe to leave grey and porcelain-coated racks in the oven itself when cleaning. GE does of course, stresses on removing stainless steel frames to avert complications with staining and friction.
Make sure you thoroughly read your owner’s manual before deciding on which course of actions suits your appliance.
If you are the sort of person who doesn’t want to reach the stage where a need will arise for you to clean oven racks, then you should probably take these simple preventive measures with the help of which your oven’s surface will rarely reach a greasy state.
As food cooks, liquids (including fats) vaporise. You may think that liquid evaporates in the form of steam. It actually is a fine spray which contains a high quantity of grease. And then, of course there is also the bubbling, boiling and frothing of liquids. As mentioned earlier—all of these can be taken care of in a simple manner. Cooking such dishes in closed vessels, for example casseroles with lids, can protect the oven from condensed vapours.
Then of course there are other kinds which cannot be kept under a lid. For those, there is always foil! Line the tray of the single tray oven with a sheet of aluminium foil to catch the drips. Even then, one should always remember never to line the floor of your oven with aluminium foil. Though it may be an old household trick but it certainly does not work with the newer ovens and may become a fire hazard.
With a home warranty, you are sure that your appliances are free from problems as they would be attended to. This will help you keep all of your appliances and systems in order and ensure that they are properly maintained right through the year. This being said most ovens come under most home warranties. So you should check before you subscribe for a home warranty. You should first ascertain if all major appliances come under it and get clarity on the speed of services.
HomeWarrantyReviews.com is the #1 Consumer Research platform of information, research and reviews on home warranties. You can get a fair understanding about which home warranty to opt for by reading through the reviews and companies pages. Also, you can determine this research easily by reviewing awards to home warranty companies. Take a look at the list of companies that have gone out of business to ensure that you do not subscribe to companies that do not provide service.
Begin by filling a tub with hot water which is enough to cover the oven racks. Add half cup of dishwashing soap and let it remain overnight. You can also sprinkle baking soda over the racks and douse it with vinegar.
If you leave oven racks in, then the extreme heat during cleaning will discolor the metal and cause it to lose its shine. This can make it difficult to insert and remove as they stick to the support brackets in the oven.
Remove oven racks and rack guides during self-clean to avoid warping, discoloration and permanent damage. Standard oven racks are usually dishwasher safe but it might not remove heavy build-up.
So how do you clean your oven?
- Pull your oven racks out completely
- Wrap each one in aluminum foil
- Allow them to soak in a bathtub filled with hot water and a dishwasher tablet for at least two hours
- Remove the pieces from the tub, unwrap them, and wipe them down
- Put the pieces back in the oven
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