There are so many ways to clean caked-on, baked-on, dried-on residue from your pots and pans, yet I always find myself just kind of sticking mine in warm water and announcing, “I’m going to wash it later. It needs to soak.” This behaviour contributes to the problem. Let’s fix it once and for all by listing out some great ways to get stubborn foodstuffs off pots and pans.
A Magic Eraser
Magic Erasers (or melamine pads) have way more uses than you might expect — and one of those uses is to do battle with your cookware. From the official Mr. Clean site: “Just swipe firmly across the dirty surface. Start with the really tough spots, like sticky grease and baked-on food, then work your way to the smaller stuff, like dried on batter and little crumbs.”
The next time you’re using oven cleaner, grab the can and look for instructions related to “spot cleaning.” Now, broaden your imagination. The can doesn’t say your “spot” can’t be on a pan. Follow the instructions on your oven cleaner and spot clean the burned-on mess on your baking sheet. The Kitchn has more details here.
Vinegar and baking soda
It’s a classic, tried-and-true combo, so you might as well put your faith in it: Vinegar and baking soda can help you with that caked-on mess. Per HGTV, you should add equal parts water and vinegar to a pan, boil them for a minute, then wash them down the drain. Next, go in with a tablespoon baking soda and scrub.
Plain baking soda
We’ve recommended this in the past for burnt enamel cookware: Boil water first, then add baking soda. Let it simmer and after a few minutes, you can use a wooden spoon to pull off all the burned-on gunk.
According to Taste of Home, you can slice two or three lemons, put them in your pot, add just enough water to cover them, and boil it all on a medium-high heat to loosen up burned-on bits enough to scrub them off.
A dishwasher tablet
We’ve seen this tip around before (and you can read more about it at Taste of Home) but basically, all you need to do is run your dirtied-up pan under warm water and use a dishwasher tablet to physically scrub at it. The directness of it all — the dishwashing powder slowly activating, the abrasion — will work off crusted-on food.
Try salt, which is abrasive and especially good for messes of greasy origin. According to HGTV, you can use it on its own with water, or add some Dawn into the mix for extra scrubbing and oil-busting power.
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