This Brilliant DIY Tool Will Clean Your Dirty Oven Racks

published Aug 18, 2022
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oven stovetop in kitchen with dish towel hanging

There are some pieces of kitchen equipment that are such a pain to clean that I avoid using them altogether. And yet, as a chef with years of professional cooking experience, I am fully aware that when I want to achieve crispy, crunchy results in the oven, I should use an oven rack.

Things like roasted chicken thighs, mini meatballs, and even bacon (yes, bacon!) are so much crispier when an oven rack allows air to flow from all sides. But dripping juices, sticky grease, and tiny spaces make them such a hassle to clean.

Credit: Laura Denby
Dripping juices and sticky messes are caked on my oven racks.

Because my sponges seem incapable of getting between the itsy-bitsy spaces of the wire racks, I can’t clean them effectively. No matter how hard I scrub, I almost always miss a spot, which means I never use them.

I knew I needed to find a better way. That’s why I was thrilled to discover a genius hack on Instagram that transforms two toothbrushes into a cleaning tool. Inspired by the video, I made my own toothbrush cleaning tool for cleaning oven racks, and I haven’t turned back since.

To get started, grab two toothbrushes and something to tie them together. I used twist ties, but you can use zip ties, string, or even rubber bands. Just make sure whatever you use will hold the toothbrushes together in a snug, sturdy position. Keep in mind that you’ll need to wash the toothbrush heads after you’re done, so whatever you use should be water-resistant and easy to clean.

Credit: Laura Denby
Everything you need: twist ties or rubber bands and two toothbrushes plus soapy water.

Place the two toothbrushes on the counter with the bristles facing towards each other, and secure them together with a tie at the bottom and higher up towards the neck of the brush. You’ll want to keep the bristles as close together as possible, so be sure to tie them tightly. Don’t worry if they overlap slightly. 

Credit: Laura Denby
My easy DIY cleaning contraption.

After you’ve secured your tool in place, take your dirty oven rack and rinse it thoroughly with water. Dip your cleaning tool in hot, soapy water (I used regular liquid dish soap). Next, run a wire between the toothbrush heads, so bristles envelop it from all sides, and scrub this way along the full length of each wire.

Credit: Laura Denby
This DIY tool makes cleaning an oven rack a lot easier to do.

Run the tool back and forth, and repeat on all of the individual wires and the corners where they intersect. The bristles of the toothbrush act like tiny 360-degree scrubbers that clean grease and juices from every angle. Depending how dirty your oven rack is, you’ll need to rinse the brushes occasionally in water to remove any stuck-on food, and re-dip them into the soapy water.

Credit: Laura Denby
Big difference!

Although this method is an efficient way to clean grease and juices off wire racks, the toothbrush bristles are too soft to clean off stubborn ingredients like melted cheese. I used it to clean sticky barbecue sauce, and although I needed to use my regular sponge for some of the really tough spots, it was able to efficiently clean in between all the hard-to-reach places.

For best results, clean the oven rack while it’s still slightly warm, so ingredients don’t have a chance to completely crust onto the surface. 

Credit: Laura Denby
Look at how well all the baked-on bits came off.

I love how efficient this cleaning hack is, but more importantly, I love how affordable and easy it is to make at home. I’m also happy to report that this toothbrush tool has been keeping my oven racks free of caked-on grease and has renewed my love for everything baked, roasted, and broiled.

I’m so glad I’ve found an easier way to clean my most-feared piece of kitchen equipment, and I’ll never let dirty oven racks stop me from cooking crispy chicken skin or perfectly crunchy bacon again.

What do your oven racks look like? Tell us your tips and tricks for getting them clean in the comments below.