How Do I Make My Oven Racks Shiny Again?

Cleaning my oven racks with a sponge

Thank you for sharing!

You use your oven a lot, so it’s no surprise the racks have lost their shine. Using the self-cleaning feature might not be enough to restore their luster, so what else can you do? In this post, I’ll tell you exactly that. 

How do I make my oven racks shiny again? Here’s how to make oven racks shiny again, no harsh chemicals needed:

  • Aluminum foil, dishwashing tablet, and hot water
  • Dishwashing powder and a bathtub
  • Orange essential oil with vinegar and baking soda
  • Vinegar, baking soda, and a bathtub
  • Dishwashing detergent and dryer sheets

Keep reading for more information on each of the above oven rack cleaning methods, including recipe quantities and cleaning steps. Soon, your oven racks will look as good as new!

5 Methods for Shinier Oven Racks That Skip the Harsh Chemicals

Aluminum Foil, Dishwashing Tablet, and Hot Water Method

This first method is extremely easy, as all you need is a bathtub, one dishwashing tablet, and lots of aluminum foil. 

Take your dirty oven racks out of the oven and lay them down on a flat surface such as your kitchen floor. You can also bring them to your bathroom and put them on the floor there if your bathroom is large enough.

Cover each oven rack in one layer of aluminum foil. That’s why I said you’ll need lots of the stuff.

When both oven racks are thoroughly wrapped in aluminum foil, fill up your bathtub with hot water. The key here is to keep the water hot, not lukewarm. 

Don’t fill the tub quite to the top either. As you put the dishwasher racks in, they’ll displace some of the water, which could cause it to flow over the lip of the tub!

After filling the tub with water, insert both aluminum-covered oven racks. Add one dishwashing tablet and then walk away for two hours.

What will happen during those two hours is a mild chemical reaction between the dishwashing tablet and the aluminum. Any grime and old food left on the surface of your oven racks will break down. 

After the two hours are up, all you have to do is unwrap each oven rack and then wipe it down using a clean, wet sponge. The stuck-on messes will come right off, revealing a shiny layer of metal for you to appreciate!   

Overnight Dishwashing Powder and Bathtub Method

This method and the first one share a lot of similarities, but the main difference is the lack of aluminum foil and the cleaning time, which is longer.

Here’s what you do. 

First, take a couple of old bath towels that you don’t particularly care about. Lay down the towels on the floor of your bathtub. If you can, layer the towels so the corners of the tub are protected.

Then remove your oven racks and cart them to the bathroom. Lay them in such a way that the racks are on the towels and not on the bathtub.

The metal of your oven racks can scratch a porcelain tub, so work slowly and carefully.

Next, turn on the hot water in your tub. You don’t need as much water as in the first method, only enough that the oven racks are underwater. 

Measure a cup of dishwashing powder and pour it in. Then leave your oven racks in the tub until morning. Overnight, the dishwashing powder will dissolve in the water, cleansing the racks along the way. 

When you wake up the next morning, use a clean cloth or a sponge to clean the oven racks.

Orange Essential Oil Method

Mmm, don’t you love the smell of orange essential oil? I know I do! 

Not only does orange essential oil smell great, but breathing in the scent of the oil might alleviate pain, anxiety, and depression. Plus, it’s a wonderful cleaning agent. That’s why I recommend it for making your oven racks shiny and clean.

This method calls for orange essential oil, vinegar, and baking soda. Make a paste using these three ingredients.

You do not need a lot of orange essential oil; just a couple of drops will suffice. You might have to stir the ingredients a bit until they become a paste, but don’t over-stir.

When you’re done making the paste, remove your oven racks. This time, keep them in your kitchen, transporting them to your empty kitchen sink. Wet a sponge and then put the paste on the sponge.

Rub both oven racks with the sponge, ensuring the bars of the racks are evenly coated with the orange essential oil paste. Leave the paste on the oven racks for upwards of eight hours.

When you come back to the oven racks later, run them under the tap and scrub until all the grime and grease is gone. 

Why does this method work? The orange essential oil has terpenes, a compound that gives the oil its pleasing odor and acts as an antimicrobial agent.

Vinegar and Baking Soda Method

Do you not have any orange essential oil in the house? That’s okay. 

You can still clean your oven racks without any commercial products. You only need vinegar and baking soda, two of the most powerful cleaners in your home that aren’t harsh chemicals.

Once again, you need to put your oven racks in your bathtub. I would recommend laying down some towels underneath so the metal racks don’t scratch up the tub.

Don’t turn the bathtub on quite yet. Instead, open your jar of baking soda and generously coat the bars of the oven racks with the powder. Then cover everything in vinegar. 

Another mild chemical reaction will take place. The combination of ingredients will begin bubbling and foaming.

Once the bubbling ends, turn on your tub and allow the oven racks to soak in hot water. For best results, you should leave the racks in the tub overnight. 

In the morning, use a dishtowel to clean the racks until grime disappears. A scrubber sponge or even a clean, unused toothbrush can remove any stubborn grease or messes that don’t want to come off. 

Dishwashing Detergent and Dryer Sheets Method

Save your dryer sheets, as they’re part of my last method for making your oven racks shiny. 

This is yet another method that requires your bathtub. Rather than lay down towels, you want to line the bottom of your bathtub with dryer sheets. 

Unhook your racks from the oven and place them atop the dryer sheets. Turn on your hot water and keep filling the tub until the oven racks are underwater. 

Pour in dishwashing detergent (the dish soap you use for dishes, not dishwashing pods), adding a half-cup.

Then walk away and allow the ingredients to work overnight. 

The dryer sheets will be full of water, but you can use them in the morning to gently clean both oven racks. The antistatic technology in the dryer sheets weakens the bond between the stuck-on food and the rack. 

Oven Rack Cleaning FAQs

On your quest to make your oven racks as shiny as the day you got them, you might have a few more questions. Allow me to answer them here!

How Often Should I Clean My Oven Racks?

Don’t wait for caked-on messes to diminish the beauty of your oven racks. Clean them several times per year to maintain their luster.

How often you should clean the racks depends on your cooking frequency. If you’re someone who uses your oven once per week to several times a week, then I’d suggest monthly oven rack cleaning. 

For those who cook a little more infrequently, make time for cleaning your oven racks four or five times per year.  

What Is the Most Effective Way to Clean Oven Racks?

Any of the natural methods I recommended in this post are effective for cleaning oven racks!

Sure, if you want immediate results, you could always use an oven rack cleaner. Those products release unpleasant fumes though. Plus, if you leave any residue on the racks and then you put your food too near, you could get sick.

Although the five natural cleaning methods I discussed aren’t exactly speedy, they get the job done all the same. You only have to do a bit of prep work, then you can walk away and come back to cleaner oven racks later!

How Do You Remove Discoloration from Oven Racks?

Through time and extreme heat exposure, your oven racks can lose their appealing silver hue and turn black or brown instead. The discoloration can make the racks look corroded, which gives you the itch to replace them.

Before you do that, try removing the discoloration. 

Transfer distilled white vinegar into a spray bottle and then mist the oven racks. When they’re thoroughly coated, dump a generous portion of baking soda on the racks. 

Allow the ingredients to work for 10 minutes or so. Then, with a bristle brush, begin scrubbing. That ought to get the job done, even if it takes a few times! 

Thank you for sharing!

Catherine Cruzz

I first fell in love with all things kitchen when I was growing up and working alongside my father in Florida at our family's appliance service and installation company. Many years later, and thousands of miles away from family I was enjoying a wonderful experience at a culinary school in Pennsylvania. That’s when I realized that along with my passion for holidays and cooking, I was still just as interested in the appliances, kitchenware, and cookware that I grew up around.

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