How to clean oven racks so they sparkle like new

Without breaking a sweat.
Photography: Ryan Linnegar

Would you describe your oven as clean and pristine, or do you keep the door firmly shut and pretend that all of the baked on food and fat just doesn’t exist? There’s no shame in being in the latter camp (we’ve all been there) but there comes a time when you need to face grime and discolouration head on by cleaning the oven racks thoroughly so they sparkle just like new. 

The secret to spotless oven racks, in all honestly, is to clean them regularly enough that grease and grime doesn’t build up in the first place. Smaller oven racks can simply be placed in the dishwasher (you may have to remove the dishwasher basket to accommodate larger racks) on a hot cycle, while larger racks can be wiped down with hot soapy water and a non-scratch scour after each use.

Missed the boat on regular oven rack upkeep? That’s ok. It’s still possible to make your oven racks look as shiny as they did the day you first installed the oven. Here we run through 4 methods to make your oven racks shine, ranging from all-natural cleaners to more potent formulations. 

Lakeside New Zealand Home Champagne Ham
(Credit: Photography & styling: Nicki Dobrzynski)

1. Bicarb soda and castile soap

Does the thought of soaking oven racks in harsh chemicals make you nervous? If you’d like to stick to non-toxic oven cleaners, reach for that $2 box of bi-carb soda to banish odours and dissolve grease, naturally. Simply dilute liquid castile soap (or an all natural dishwashing liquid like WashWild’s dishwashing liquid or Koala Eco’s lemon myrtle and mandarin essential oil dish soap)  according to the product instructions in hot water, then add one cup of bi-carb soda to the mix. Place grimy oven racks in the solution and allow them to soak for an hour or overnight. Scrub with a non-scratch scour and rinse clean. 

To clean away any stubborn spots, create a paste using equal parts bi-carb soda and water, and apply directly to spots. Buff away with a soft cloth or non-scratch scour sponge. 


McKenzie’s bi-carb soda (1kg), Woolworths


A humble carton of bi-carb soda has so many uses around the home. It can dissolve baked on grease (like the kind you’ll find on oven racks), absorbing questionable odours while it works. When you’re not using it to clean the oven, you can use it to deoderise the fridge, unblock sink drains and scrub stains off stainless steel cookware. 


Biome Concentrated liquid castile soap (unscented), Biome


This Australian-made castile soap may be gentle on skin and hands, but makes a powerful all-purpose cleaner around the house. It will get your oven racks gleaming but can also be used around the home as laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid and combined with your favourite essential oil and water to make a gentle, eco-friendly all-purpose cleaning spray. Made from olive oil and contains zero additives, preservatives or synthetic fragrances. 

2. Put them out to pasture

It sounds like a prank, but apparently this method really does work. Clean oven racks without chemicals or breaking a sweat simply by placing them on the lawn overnight. Yes, really. The moisture released by the grass overnight will break down baked on grime so all you need to do in the morning is wipe it away with a soft cloth or sponge. 


Scour Daddy non-scratch scrub sponge (pack of 6), Amazon


Once you’ve finished soaking your oven racks, give it a good scrub with a non-scratch scour like this one by the company that brought us cult-cleaning products Scub Daddy and Scrub Mommy. This scour pad is great because it will buff away stubborn stains without leaving scratches behind. It’s also odour resistant and the firmness of the sponge changes depending on whether you’re cleaning with hot or cold water. 


Euroscrubby, Harris Scarfe


Euroscrubby cloths are excellent at buffing and scrubbing away grime. They’re made from cotton that’s coated with special resin that lifts dirt and stains without etching the surface you’re cleaning. 

3. The bathtub method

If you have a large, or double oven, you may not be able to fit the oven racks in the kitchen sink. This is where a bathtub can come in handy. But, before you try any of these methods, protect the bottom of the bathtub with a towel to prevent scratches. Here are some ways to make oven racks sparkle using a bathtub: 


Place oven racks in the bath tub. Sprinkle oven racks with a generous amount of bi-carb soda and fill the tub with hot water until the racks are just covered, adding a few squirts of natural dishwashing liquid into the bath as it fills. Soak the racks overnight before scrubbing and rinsing clean. 

Dishwashing tablets

Place the oven racks in the bathtub and fill with enough hot water to cover the racks. Dissolve a dishwashing tablet in the water. Allow the oven racks to soak for an hour or overnight before scrubbing and rinsing clean. 

Alternate version: Wrap oven racks in aluminium foil and place a dishwashing tablet inside the foil. Place the foil-covered racks in the bath and fill with hot water until the racks are submerged. Allow to soak overnight before carefully unwrapping the aluminium foil, and scrubbing and rinsing clean. The aluminium foil is thought to increase the shine of the racks and prevent rust spots. 

Napisan or laundry boost powder

Place the oven racks in the bathtub and fill with enough hot water to cover the racks. Sprinkle a scoop of Napisan all over the oven racks. Allow the oven racks to soak for an hour or overnight before scrubbing and rinsing clean. 

An unattended, filled bath tub can pose a drowning risk for young children. Take care when using this method for cleaning oven racks.

Safety tip


Dishwasher tablets (50 pack), Ecostore


Dishwashing tablets aren’t just for your dishwasher! Unleash their cleaning power by dissolving one tablet in hot water and soaking the oven racks overnight. These tablets by Ecostore are made using plant and mineral-based ingredients and are oxygen-boosted to remove even the toughest baked-on stains. Free from phosphates, synthetic dyes, synthetic perfumes and polyethylene glycols. 


Vanish Napisan oxi action fabric stain remover powder (3kg), Big W


A good old tub of Napisan can be used for more than just making oil and stains on your laundry completely disappear. You can use it to banish baked on fat and food from your oven racks by dissolving a scoop in hot water and allowing the oven racks to soak in the solution overnight. It’s also great for brightening tile grout and deoderising your wheelie bin.

4. Heavy duty oven cleaners

Really done a number on your oven racks? Heavy duty cleaners can strip away all manner of sins and make even the most charred, grimy racks look brand new. Ozkleen Oven Power is a cult-favourite cleaning product you can find at your local supermarket for under $10. It’s powerful, but it does the job. Make sure you wear protective clothing and eyewear, and follow the instructions on the label. 


Ozkleen Oven Cleaner Power Kit, Woolworths


Head to any online cleaning forum and you’re bound to see one oven cleaning product recommended time and time again: OzKleen’s Oven Power. You’ll need to don a pair of extra-long gloves before handling it (and be wary of the strong fumes) but the no-scrub sparkle it achieves will satisfy even the toughest rental inspection. 


Selleys Oven Plus Heavy Duty Gel, The Good Guys


Don’t want to deal with harsh fumes but want a cleaner that just gets the job done? Selley’s products are trusted for a reason, and their heavy duty oven gel is no exception. Simply apply the gel to a warm oven as well as the racks and allow the product to stand for 30 minutes before wiping away with a damp cloth or non-scratch scour. Rinse product from surfaces thoroughly. 

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