Cleaning Pans

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2012 • all rights reserved

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!

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  1. Velma Baker on Facebook says:

    Soda works really well and its not as hard on the environment.

  2. I definitely prefer the less harsh treatments and try them first, but sometimes . . .

  3. Please tell me you don’t dump those chemicals into the ocean afterwards! Many boat sinks drain directly into the sea – not into the blackwater tank. Please suggest environmentally-friendly ways to clean things on a boat.

    • I guess I should have added that I wipe all the gunk out with paper towels or throw-away rags and put those into a plastic bag for special disposal. No I don’t rinse oven cleaner into the ocean. As an avid snorkeler/diver who saw ocean life degrade in just six years, I’m pretty careful about that.

  4. Another great trick is to heat up white vinegar in the burnt pan. I’ve saved many a blackened pan this way.

  5. I just put a squirt of soap and some water heat the pan up and the stuck on stuff loosens

  6. Judith C says:

    Shaklee makes a really nice scrubbing paste. It’s not toxic to gray water. It’s called Scour Off Paste. A little goes a long way.

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