Most people will agree that cleaning oven racks isn’t always the most enjoyable job. To avoid the hassle of hand cleaning, you may be considering tossing your oven racks into the dishwasher alongside other everyday household items. But while that would certainly make things easier, it might not be the best move.
You can put oven racks in the dishwasher as long as they fit because most oven brands today come with dishwasher-safe racks. However, you probably won’t get the best result because the dirt found on oven racks is usually baked on, and a dishwasher’s action won’t be enough to get it off.
The rest of this article will explain in detail why it might not be the best idea to put oven racks in the dishwasher. We’ll also discuss better ways to clean oven racks, so be sure to read to the end.
The Problem With Putting Oven Racks in the Dishwasher
Since standard oven racks (not full-extension, ball-bearing types) are dishwasher safe, there’s nothing wrong with running a cycle to clean them. Provided they fit inside, you can clean your oven racks in the dishwasher without any safety hazards or risk of damage. However, this may not be the most effective way to clean your oven racks because the kind of grime that builds up on them is usually too stubborn for a dishwasher’s action.
Normally, you’d expect your dishwasher to be able to handle stains like grease, small food particles, and other kinds of dirt typically found on oven racks. After all, that’s precisely the kind of grime it encounters on your utensils whenever you run a cycle.
The problem with oven rack grime, however, is that it’s usually baked-on. That makes it more ingrained on the surface of the racks than everyday dirt usually is on your utensils, meaning it’ll require more vigorous scrubbing to remove than your dishwasher can provide. Cleaning burnt-on grime on oven racks may also need chemical cleaning agents (ammonia, for instance) that may not be safe to put in your dishwasher.
All this means that if you clean your oven racks in your dishwasher, some of the dirt won’t come off.
More Effective Ways to Clean Oven Racks
If your dishwasher isn’t the best way to clean your oven racks, then what is? Here are three ways to clean your racks more effectively and without too much hassle:
- Using dryer sheets and dish soap
- Using vinegar and baking soda
- Using ammonia and a trash bag
Let’s review the steps involved in each method below.
Cleaning Oven Racks With Dish Soap and Dryer Sheets
For this method, you’ll need a bathtub. Start by lining the tub with dryer sheets (Gain Dryer Sheets would be a solid choice, but any other kind will still do). Next, lay your oven racks on top and fill the bathtub with warm water until the racks are covered. Add ½ cup of dish soap and let that set-up sit overnight.
The next morning, drain the bathtub and wipe your oven racks clean using the soaked dryer sheets. The grime should come off easy, including baked-on food and grease residues.
Cleaning Oven Racks Using Vinegar and Baking Soda
This method will also require a bathtub. Lay the oven racks in an empty tub, sprinkle a decent amount of baking soda, and drench them with vinegar. When the foaming stops, fill the tub with hot water until the racks are fully submerged and let them sit overnight.
The next morning, use an old dish towel to wipe the racks clean. If some baked-on dirt doesn’t come off, add kosher salt to the towel for extra abrasion. When clean, rinse your racks thoroughly.
Related post: How to Remove Rust With Vinegar and Baking Soda
Using Ammonia and a Trash Bag to Clean Oven Racks
Out of the three methods, this is the most dangerous because ammonia fumes can be dangerous if inhaled. You’ll need gloves, safety goggles, a trash bin, a trash bag, ammonia, and a place outside that’s not accessible to pets and kids.
To get started, put your dirty oven racks in an unused trash bag and add about ½ qt (473.176 ml) of ammonia. The racks don’t need to be covered entirely with ammonia, so no need to spread it. Next, tie off the trash bag to seal it tightly and place it in a trash bin. Place the bin outside in a spot that’s out of reach of children and pets and let it sit overnight.
The next morning, open the trash bag in a well-ventilated area so you don’t inhale the fumes. Remove the racks and hose them down until all the baked-on grime is rinsed off. Let them dry before putting them back in your oven.
That’s it for today’s discussion. In summary, we’ve established that while standard oven racks are dishwasher safe, cleaning them in the dishwasher wouldn’t provide the best results because their stains are usually baked on. A more effective way to clean your oven racks would be to use vinegar and baking soda, dish soap, and dryer sheets, or ammonia and a trash bag.