Oven trays, also known as baking trays or cookie sheets, are essential tools in any kitchen.
From cooking traybakes to pizzas, they’re used to baking various meals and snacks. This means they’re used frequently and quickly accumulate stubborn grease, food residue, and baked-on stains.
Unfortunately, these burnt stains can be challenging to remove. But before you run out and purchase new oven trays, read our tried-and-tested method guaranteed to give good results.
This article walks you through a step-by-step process to clean oven trays effectively, using simple household ingredients and cleaning methods.
How Do You Clean Burnt Oven Trays?
With some gentle scrubbing, you can easily remove stubborn burn stains from oven trays using a common household item: bicarbonate of soda.
Also known as baking soda, this magical ingredient is excellent for removing baked-on mess, ensuring your oven trays serve you for many more delicious meals to come.
To clean your oven trays using bicarbonate of soda, follow the seven simple steps below:
Step 1: Scrape off loose debris
Start by removing any loose debris or large food particles from the oven trays. You can do this by using a spatula or a soft brush to gently scrape off stuck-on bits of food or grease.
Be careful not to scratch the surface of the trays, especially if they have a non-stick coating.
Step 2: Prepare your cleaning solution
To create a powerful and safe cleaning solution, combine equal parts of bicarbonate of soda and warm water in a bowl.
Bicarbonate of soda is an excellent natural cleaner that can help break down stubborn stains and grease without damaging the surface of the trays.
Step 3: Apply the cleaning solution
Dip a non-abrasive scrubbing sponge or soft brush into the bicarbonate of soda mixture. Apply the solution generously to the stained areas on the oven trays.
For particularly stubborn stains, you can dampen the oven tray and sprinkle bicarbonate of soda powder directly on the burnt areas.
Step 4: Leave it to soak
Once the cleaning solution is applied, allow it to soak for 30 to 60 minutes.
This gives the bicarbonate of soda time to work its magic on the baked-on grime, making it easier to scrub away in the next step.
The moisture also helps to loosen stubborn burnt bits so that they’re more easily removed.
Step 5: Scrub the oven trays
After soaking, use a non-abrasive scrubbing sponge or soft brush to gently scrub the oven trays.
Work in circular motions and apply gentle pressure, paying extra attention to areas with stubborn stains. Avoid using abrasive scouring pads or steel wool, which can scratch and damage the trays.
Step 6: Rinse thoroughly
Once you’ve successfully removed the stains and grime, rinse the oven trays thoroughly with warm water and washing-up liquid.
Ensure all traces of the cleaning solution and residue are washed away. Alternatively, put the oven tray in your dishwasher to wash away cleaning remnants.
Step 7: Dry the oven tray
After rinsing clean, use a clean cloth or paper towel to pat the oven trays dry.
Make sure the baking trays are completely dry before storing in your kitchen cupboards or using them again, as moisture can cause the metal surface to rust.
How Do You Remove Stains from Oven Trays?
If your oven trays are particularly badly stained, the above cleaning method might not be strong enough to eliminate all baked-on residue.
In this case, we recommend using these other tips and tricks for a more thorough clean:
- Soak in hot water & bicarbonate: Rather than applying a cleaning paste directly to the burnt stains, fill your kitchen sink with hot water and add a cup of bicarbonate of soda. Submerge the entire oven tray into the liquid and leave for 60 minutes. If your sink is too small or oven trays are too big, soak one half and then repeat with the other side.
- Use aluminium foil for scrubbing: For particularly tough stains, you can try using aluminium foil for scrubbing. Ball up a sheet of aluminium foil and add a few drops of water to moisten it. Gently scrub the surface of the oven tray with the balled-up foil, as the extra abrasion can help tackle challenging spots.
- Use vinegar for stubborn stains: If there are still some stubborn stains remaining, you can use vinegar as an additional cleaning agent. Dip a cloth or sponge in white vinegar and gently scrub the affected areas. White vinegar is mildly acidic, which can help dissolve lingering stains and leave your oven trays spotless.
Can You Clean Oven Trays with Oven Cleaner?
You can use oven cleaner to clean oven trays. Oven cleaners are designed for cleaning ovens and removing tough, baked-on grease and grime from the surfaces inside an oven, including drip trays or racks.
Therefore, they can also remove these stains from oven trays or other greasy surfaces.
Using commercial oven cleaning products is often quicker and easier than using all-natural products. However, there are drawbacks in terms of health and safety:
- Safety risks: Because oven cleaning products contain chemicals, it’s essential to take safety precautions while using them for cleaning. Some oven cleaners can be harsh, and the fumes can be harmful if inhaled. Always wear protective gloves and ensure proper ventilation in the area where you’re cleaning.
- Health risks: It is also crucial to thoroughly remove all traces of oven cleaner from the oven trays after cleaning. Oven cleaner can be harmful if ingested and can easily transfer to food if not removed from the oven trays before they’re used for baking and roasting. We recommend washing the trays twice, just to be safe.
If you’re concerned about using chemical-based oven cleaners, the natural methods already mentioned can be a great alternative.
These methods are just as effective at cleaning oven trays, but they might require a bit more effort and time compared to commercial oven cleaners.
How Do You Clean Oven Trays with Oven Cleaner?
If you do want to use an oven cleaner to clean your oven trays, here is how:
- Place the oven trays on a bin bag or old newspaper to protect the surface beneath from the chemicals in the oven cleaner.
- Spray the oven cleaner on the oven trays, making sure to cover all the dirty areas thoroughly. Pay close attention to any heavily stained or caked-on areas.
- Leave the cleaner on for a specific amount of time according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This allows the cleaner to penetrate and break down the grime.
- Use a non-abrasive scrubbing pad or brush to gently scrub the oven trays. This should help loosen the baked-on grease and dirt.
- Once you’ve removed the grime, rinse the oven trays thoroughly with water to remove any remaining oven cleaner residue and dry using a cloth or paper towel.
How to Prevent Oven Trays from Getting Dirty
To keep your oven trays cleaner for longer and reduce the need for deep cleaning, consider using these tips for looking after your baking sheets:
- Line the oven tray with baking paper or tin foil when baking or roasting. These protective barriers prevent food from sticking to the trays and make cleanup a breeze.
- Avoid using excessive amounts of fats and oils when roasting. These can splatter while your food is in the oven, causing more marks and stains.
- Dry your oven trays as soon as possible after washing them. This helps to protect the metal from rusting and avoids the build-up of bacteria which thrive in moist environments.
- Always wash the oven trays as soon as possible after use. Grease and food residue are easier to remove when fresh, whereas hardened stains are more challenging to remove.
Hannah is a freelance content writer with a passion for cleaning. She worked her way around Australia by cleaning hostels in exchange for free accommodation and used her cleaning skills to bag her a job as a chalet host for a luxury ski company in France.