Skip to Content

Why You Should Not Clean Oven Racks With NAKED Eyes

Why You Should Not Clean Oven Racks with NAKED Eyes is a cautionary tale about cleaning my dirty oven racks. 

Why You Should Not Clean Oven Racks with NAKED Eyes  - before

It all started with the picture you see above. I took this photo when putting together my post on Icelandic Yogurt.  

When I noticed how DIRTY my oven racks were, I couldn’t bear to post it on my blog. The shame motivated me to clean them on Monday last week.  

Both of my ovens are self-cleaning ovens, but the self-cleaning cycle will not run with the racks in place. An alarm goes off and they can’t remain in place.

Why you should remove the racks from your oven during the self-cleaning cycle

So, I did some research. According to the manual, leaving the racks in my oven during cleaning will discolor them. Cleaning also harms the finish so they will no longer glide smoothly.

So up until this week, I have kept my oven clean but turned a blind eye to my dirty racks.  

I looked on YouTube for an effective but easy way to clean oven racks.

Cleaning my oven racks with water and laundry soap alone 

I’m a little scared of ammonia. When I found some instructions to soak the racks in a bathtub full of water with a cup of laundry soap added, I was up for it.

Twelve hours later I was down on my knees. I leaned over the bathtub and scrubbed the racks to knock off the baked-on grease.  

The dried grease residue came off easily. The debris flying everywhere like confetti was strangely gratifying.  

I finished the job and was proud of my shiny oven and the clean racks inside.   Seems like anytime I’m too proud of something, I better watch out. This time was no different.  

Why you should wear safety goggles when cleaning your oven racks

By Tuesday morning, I was beginning to learn Why You Should Not Clean Oven Racks with Naked Eyes.  

I woke up with one of my eyes irritated and my nose running. I dismissed it as allergies even though I have no known allergies.  

My left eye was itchy and photo-sensitive. I ditched my contacts and wore eyeglasses all day.  

The sun bothered me so much, I drove around for 3 days wearing two pairs of sunglasses. By Thursday afternoon, I ventured into a clinic inside a drugstore in desperation.  

Diagnosis? Pink-eye.  

The consequences of an incorrect diagnosis

Friday morning my eye had not improved one iota. I kept thinking of the verse in I Corinthians 12 where Paul talks about the body. He says, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.”  

Driving with the sun in my sensitive eye was making me nauseous. I had a minor headache not to mention blurry vision.  

How the correct diagnosis made all the difference

Friday afternoon, I went to my regular eye doctor in search of a second opinion. After he fussed at me like an old bantam hen, he looked in my eye.

He quietly announced the presence of a “foreign object.”   I wondered what it could be.

He promptly plucked it out and showed it to me–a brown speck no bigger than a grain of table salt.   

Thinking back over the past week, I realized it was probably a particle of baked-on grease. It must have landed in my eye as I was cleaning those nasty oven racks.   

The doctor unceremoniously plucked out the “foreign object.” My eye felt much better immediately although it was still swollen and light-sensitive. The good doctor said it left a divot!  

The moral of this story   

If you let your oven racks get as dirty as I did, consider wearing safety glasses while cleaning them.  

"after " with clean racks

I bought these cute pink ones so nobody else in the house will want to wear my glasses. That strategy has served me well with my pink hammer and pliers, too.  

p.s. If you have an easier way to clean oven racks that doesn’t involve ammonia or scrubbing, let me know.

Would you like to read more secrets from my kitchen?


Friday 26th of April 2019

Scary post but glad you are ok! I have the chemical splash safety goggles for tasks like this. Actually next week I will need to clean a large grill with chemical oven cleaner so I'll probably be wearing goggles, long gloves, and a respirator mask as well.


Monday 29th of April 2019

A respirator mask? Now that's serious. Good luck!

Mai Bouchard

Tuesday 19th of September 2017

I'm so glad that your eyes are better now ! Takecare Paula , wishing you a good health !


Wednesday 20th of September 2017

Thank you Mai. Doing great now!


Tuesday 19th of September 2017

I do mine like Rita, except I do take mine into the yard to rinse. No damage to grass that I can tell. Much easier than soaking in a bathtub.


Wednesday 20th of September 2017

Always prefer to use any chemicals outside, except for the dead of winter. But then, I don't much care about dirty racks. :-)


Tuesday 19th of September 2017

I use the Easy Off, also, the blue can that's for a cold oven. Works like a charm and as the lady stated earlier, the hard spots need a little steel wool. I just lay them on newspaper and spray them real good, turn them over and spray the other side. I don't put them in a bag. Wait about 15 minutes and wipe and rinse them off. Very little spots need the steel wool, but comes off very easily.


Wednesday 20th of September 2017

Hi Peg, Always good to hear from you. I'm going to have to try this EZ-off stuff. I don't think to buy it since I have self-cleaning oven but sounds like it's good for the racks.

Evelyn Bynum

Tuesday 19th of September 2017

I'm laughing and crying all at the same time! So sorry this happened but look what a story came out of this and lesson learned. Happy late Birthday, Paula!! Love y lots


Wednesday 20th of September 2017

Hi Evelyn, I sure went through a lot to come up with a good story for you! Thanks for the birthday greetings.