Chances are you have some baking sheets in your kitchen that are marred by burnt pieces of gunk. I know the large cookie sheets I got nine years ago as a wedding present have gone from shiny silver to grease-stained.
So, I was intrigued to read The Kitchn’s clean-off, where writer Ashley Poskin tried five different methods to get tough stains off pans. My baking sheets were worse off than the one Poskin used in her trials, which made them the perfect subjects for a trial of all five cleaning techniques.
Here’s my ranking from worst to best method of cleaning baking sheets:
5. Oven Cleaner And Steel Wool
Like Poskin, I don’t love the idea of using oven cleaner on pots and pans I use for baking or cooking, and I found the Easy-Off‘s fumes extremely strong. If you try this method, you’ll want to stow the coated pan in your oven to contain the fumes, or spray and leave the pan outside for the time it’s supposed to set. I also wished I’d worn gloves.
I failed at this method because I left the oven cleaner on my aluminum cookie sheet too long. I let the cleaning spray sit on the pan for about 30 minutes, and by then, the gunk on the pan had bubbled up and most of it had dried.
The part that was still bubbling when I scrubbed the solution off with water and a Brillo pad came out looking shiny and silver. But the other treated area still had some gunk on it after scrubbing.
I tried respraying the Easy-Off and letting the pan sit again. Bad idea. After further research, I discovered that untreated aluminum pans like mine can react to Easy-Off’s chemicals, resulting in pitting. So, what I thought was gunk that wouldn’t come off were actually metal pockmarks. Ugh.
Another reason to be careful with this method: Not everybody recommends using steel wool on aluminum because it can be too abrasive.
Bottom line: Don’t do this method unless you have stainless steel cookie sheets or treated aluminum pans. If you do try Easy-Off on aluminum pans, don’t leave it on for more than 15-20 minutes.
4. Cream Of Tartar And Vinegar
I would have never thought of cleaning with cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate). The Kitchn test had decent results with this one. But when I tried the cream-of-tartar-and-vinegar combination overnight, the treatment only got rid of the brown patina, not those stubborn, baked-on brown spots.
You can see the cleaner middle part of the treated sheet below, particularly where I really scrubbed in a patch at the bottom right.
But it was a little frustrating to leave the mixture on for so long and not get more off.
3. Vinegar And Baking Soda
Baking soda and vinegar are two common and inexpensive household products that seem to clean almost anything. Plus, they bubble up nicely together for a fun side amusement.
I made up a coating of the baking soda on one portion of my sheet and poured vinegar on top, though it might’ve been easier to mix them together and then pour it on. The baking soda-vinegar mixture bubbled up as expected, and I left the coating to sit for the recommended 30 minutes. Then I washed it off with a sponge.
The vinegar-baking soda combo improved the overall color and shine of the sheet, but it didn’t get off the darker brown stains, despite my scrubbing.
I’ve also now read that you should avoid using acidic products (like vinegar) on non-treated aluminum pans because it can remove the coating or cause pitting. However, I didn’t leave the vinegar on the pan long enough to see this effect.
2. Baking Soda And Hydrogen Peroxide
I liked the overnight baking-soda-hydrogen-peroxide paste method a lot. It seemed environmentally friendly, affordable and hands-off. But it didn’t clean my baking sheet totally.
The extra-shiny portion of the pan below was treated with the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste. It took away a dingy layer and some of the brown bits.
I did a second coating all over the pan and let it sit for about four more hours.
The second go-round removed more of the brown coloring and reduced some of the spots, but didn’t get it all off.
1. Baking Soda And Foil
I was skeptical of this method. Scrubbing with foil?
But adding water to the baking soda and working it into a frothy paste with the foil did actually scrub off a good amount of the gunk from my cookie sheet.
I was generous with the amount of baking soda I piled on, as you can see.
The clean spot using the baking soda and foil method is just below the blue tape label. And while the foil may leave behind some scratching on your cookie sheet, it’s not as harsh as steel wool.
But don’t use foil on a nonstick pan as it’ll take the coating off. For nonstick pans, you could try subbing in a non-scratch sponge.
Bonus Trial Method: Bar Keepers Friend
I decided to try out Bar Keepers Friend on a cookie sheet since it is so effective in cleaning a variety of other surfaces, and the bottle says it’s safe to use on dishes.
I wet down the back of one of my pans and coated it with the powder version of the product. Then I used a non-abrasive sponge to scrub all over.
This method did indeed remove a good amount of the brown layer, though, again, those dark brown spots were still hard to get off.
Maybe if I had scrubbed a bit longer with some more of the formula it would have helped. I’d rank Bar Keepers Friend up at the top of these cleaning methods.
Will you try any of these methods to rid your baking sheets of stubborn spots?