How to clean oven trays to remove burnt-on food and grease

These methods for how to clean oven trays guarantee sparkling results that will help your dishes look like new again

 baking tray with ingredients ready to place in the oven, to illustrate w&h's guide to how to clean oven trays
(Image credit: Future)

Knowing how to clean oven trays is something every cook should have in their repertoire, given that trays can often be some of the most used, yet grimiest, pieces of kit in our kitchens. 

No matter how careful you are, oven baking trays always seem to end up with burnt-on residue that only gets more and more stuck with each successive use. This can cause the baking tray to look discolored and dirty, and can even create an unsanitary environment in which to cook food.

While it may seem like your tray is hopelessly soiled beyond the point of no return, there are some simple methods and handy kitchen cleaning hacks for how to clean oven trays, all involving items that you likely already have in your home. Before you know it, it'll become one of the easiest parts of your kitchen cleaning routine – and you'll have sparkling clean baking trays once again.

How to clean oven trays – 6 easy methods

The best part of our methods for how to clean oven trays is that there is no need for special equipment or expensive cleaners. Most of what you will need to clean your baking trays, you probably already have in your organized kitchen cabinets

Here are six easy ways to have your oven trays looking like new again. 

1. Use dish soap and a scratch-free scouring pad

ceramic double sink with one side filled with hot soapy water and sponge to show how to clean oven trays with ease

(Image credit: Future)

A good long soak in hot soapy water, a non-scratch sponge with a loofah pad, and some elbow grease may be all you need to clean every bit of residue off your baking trays without causing damage. 

This method works well for aluminum baking trays, but perhaps not as useful for non-stick pans or trays, as the loofah may scratch the coating. Like some of the best cookware items, baking trays can have very delicate surfaces, so it's important to use a gentle scouring sponge.


  1. Fill your sink or washtub with warm water
  2. Add dish soap to the water to help with the grease
  3. Wipe down the tray with a paper towel and submerge it in the soapy water
  4. Allow the tray to soak for 30 minutes to an hour
  5. Using the scratch-free scouring pad, scrub in a circular motion. For best results, focus on small areas and keep working on them until they are completely clean. Then move on to the next spot
  6. Rinse and leave to dry

2. Soak in hot water and baking soda

Yes, that's right – the magical baking powder has yet another practical use (baking soda is also one of the best ingredients to use when working out how to clean copper and how to clean grout, to name but a few). Baking soda and hot water may be all you need to clean burnt-on food off your baking trays. Because no scrubbing is involved, this method is safe for both non-stick and regular baking trays. 


  1. Wipe down the tray with a paper towel to remove any oil or loose debris
  2. Fill your sink or washtub with boiling water
  3. Add about one cup of baking soda. You may need more or less depending on the amount of water and the amount of burnt residue on your tray 
  4. Let the tray sit in the hot water for at least an hour
  5. Using a cloth or sponge, wipe away the burnt-on grease and other debris
  6. Rinse thoroughly and wash again using regular dish soap, or pop it in the dishwasher

3. Mix baking soda and vinegar

Kicthen counter with bowl of baking soda and bottle of vinegar to show a natural method for how to clean oven trays efficiently

(Image credit: Getty Images | JPC-PROD)

The chemical reaction that occurs when you mix baking soda (a base) and vinegar (an acid) together can remove even the toughest of marks from your baking trays – it's also great if you want to know how to clean a showerhead

This method of cleaning with vinegar and baking soda is safe for all types of baking trays and is best used on trays that are proving really difficult to clean any other way.


  1. Fill your sink or washtub with hot water
  2. Mix in half a cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda
  3. Wipe down the tray to remove grease or loose food debris
  4. Submerge the baking tray in the mixture for at least 30 minutes
  5. Using a sponge or scratch-free scouring pad, scrub using a circular motion
  6. Rinse well and allow to dry.

4. Sprinkle soda crystals or dish washing power

Oven tray showing dishwashing powder sprinkled in to soak up grease and burnt-on food as the best way how to clean oven. trays without scrubbing

(Image credit: Future)

This method is genius for cleaning oven trays without having to scrub at all, but it's most effective directly after use.

Professional cleaner Lynsey Crombie, TV's Queen of Clean, is a big fan of this method, telling This Morning how she uses this method: "Soda crystals are a good old school product, what they will do is start to soak up the grease and cooked-on food and make it easier to remove. You can sprinkle them on and just leave them while you're eating your dinner."


  • Sprinkle your soda crystals or dishing washing power onto your tray – enough just to cover the surface area to be cleaned
  • Allow them to stand for at least 20-30 minutes, to soak up the grease effectively
  • Use a clean microfibre cloth and gently wipe the crystals away. You will see how they lift the grease and baked-on food residue that is now soaked into them.
  • Pour the soaked crystals directly into the bin, to save any grease from being poured down the drains
  • Rinse in warm water to remove any additional residue

5. Use a commercial oven cleaner

Using one of the best oven cleaners is another way to get your baking tray looking like new. The upside of this method is that it is as easy as simply spraying and waiting for the product to work its magic. The downside is that it does use harsher chemicals – always best safely stored and organized under kitchen sinks away from food and dry ingredient. So if you prefer a more natural approach, opt for one of the above methods instead.


  1. Open your kitchen window and turn on the exhaust fan for ventilation and put on rubber gloves
  2. Wipe down the tray to remove any grease or loose dirt
  3. Spray the tray with the cleaner, making sure to coat the whole surface evenly
  4. Pop the tray into an oven that has been preheated to the temperature given in the instructions
  5. Wait the recommended amount of time—this is usually at least a few hours
  6. Remove the tray from the oven using a thick rag towel and whilst wearing rubber gloves
  7. Wash under running water using a cloth or non-abrasive scrubber, and then wash the tray again using regular dish soap or the dishwasher

6. Pop trays in a self-cleaning oven

oven trays in an oven to show how self-cleaning setting is idea for how to clean oven trays efficiently

(Image credit: Getty Images | Silke Enkelmann | EyeEm)

If you have one, pop your dirty oven trays in your self-clean oven. One of the biggest tricks when it comes to how to clean an oven, this method is so simple you may kick yourself for not thinking of it earlier. If you are lucky enough to have a self-cleaning oven and your trays can take the heat, you can use the oven itself to get your trays clean again. It's incredibly easy and a good option for those looking for a hands-off baking tray-cleaning approach.


  1. Place the baking tray in the oven
  2. Set the oven to self-cleaning mode
  3. Wait for the cycle to complete
  4. Rinse and wash the baking tray in soap and water, then leave to dry

To save time and effort when it comes to how to clean oven trays, lining your baking trays with kitchen foil or parchment paper is an excellent way to keep them clean and free of burnt-on food.

You can simply lift the protective layer straight off the tray and into the bin, preventing having to clean any oil or burnt-on food from the surface.

Oven tray with parchment paper cooking chips in teh oven to show how to clean oven trays more efficiently

(Image credit: Getty Images | Elzauer)

All the above-listed methods will get your oven baking trays shiny and clean, but they won't fix other problems you might have with them.

For example, if your baking trays are scratched or warped, they should be discarded. Also, you should never use non-stick trays if the coating has begun to peel or if there are areas where the underlying metal is exposed. Trays in this condition could allow harmful chemicals to leach into your foods during the baking process and should be discarded immediately. 

Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on 

With contributions from