Got a pan that you just can’t get clean? Yeah, I was taking pictures as I was cooking and let a tortilla get just a “little” blackened in that pan. The photo on the left shows the pan after washing it, soaking it and scrubbing it with cleanser. But that served as the catalyst for another tip . . . yes, that’s the same pan on the right, the next morning.
WARNING: Use this tip only on stainless or Pyrex pans — do not try it on nonstick or aluminum pans. It could damage them.
Now for the solution — after you’ve done the typical soaking and scraping, apply some oven cleaner and put the pan in a plastic bag overnight. The plastic bag keeps it from drying out. The oven cleaner may not take the burnt or baked-on crud off totally, but it will loosen it up to the point where the remainder will scrub off fairly easily.
You can get several different types of oven cleaner. In Mexico, I could still get the paste type that you brush on and frankly, it worked the best of any type I used. It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know what chemicals were in it but with it being a thick liquid it was easy to just dab it on where it was needed and since I wasn’t spraying it the fumes weren’t too noxious.
In the US, you can now get a fume-free foam that sprays on. The fume-free part is good if you’re in an enclosed space but I find it doesn’t provide as much cleaning power as the regular spray. And then there’s the heavy duty spray foam, which does the best.
Take your pick based on your tolerance for working with chemicals and be sure to wash and rinse the pan well after using the oven cleaner on it!