How to Get Burned on Gunk off Your Food Pans

Secrets to Getting That Gunk off Your Food Pans

Discover 9 simple ways to get your pans like new again.
Baking your own breads, muffins and desserts is a great way to set your restaurant apart from the scores of eateries that purchase these products from other purveyors. However, keeping your baking pans and kitchen equipment clean and "gunk"-free can be a challenge. Plus, since bakers tend to be among the first kitchen staff members to arrive, these baking items generally accumulate and need to be cleaned right around the time the rest of your kitchen staff is gearing up and prepping for lunch or dinner service. While you certainly don't want to scrimp on cleanliness, if you're like most chefs and kitchen managers, you want to be able to process these pans and get rid of that burned-on gunk as quickly as possible. The good news is that we have some tips and products to make this task easier.

1. Use a little baking soda.

Arguably the best way to get black, baked on sugar and batter off of your baking pans is to sprinkle a little baking soda on the interior of the pan and cover it with a little bit of water. Heat it for 15 to 60 minutes. Allow it to cool until it can be comfortably handled. The blackened, crusty mess will fall off in a single piece that can easily be dumped into the garbage can.

2. Borrow the "Bar Keepers Friend" from the bartender.

For extremely stubborn baked on gunk, grab a canister of Bar Keepers Friend from the bartender. Spread it on the gunk and rub vigorously with an abrasive pad. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let it set overnight. In the morning, unwrap the pan and place in an oven at around 150 degrees. Allow to cool and then rinse and rub again with an abrasive pad. Obviously, this method is best for baking pans that show up for processing late in the day.

3. Combine baking soda and white vinegar.

Yet another way to get rid of gunk on your baking pans is to use a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar. For this method, combine a 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Blend with a little hot water and then let the mixture bubble up (kind of like a science experiment.) This can be done right in a plugged sink. Submerge the messy pans in the sink and let them soak for around 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how messy the pan is. After this time, the "gunk" should loosen so that the pan can be wiped clean. You can also add a little salt on you rag to add a little abrasion. (Note: some experts substitute 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide for the vinegar.)

4. Get out some Carbon-Kleen aerosol cleaner & aluminum foil.

For regular glass and metal baking pans (not the non-stick variety) with baked on gunk, assemble a canister of Carbon-Kleen aerosol cleaner, a roll of aluminum foil and a roll of paper towels. Sprinkle the pan with the cleaner. Moisten a paper towel and rub the cleaner well into the gunk on the pan. Next, crunch a piece of the aluminum foil into a ball and "scour" the tough stains with it. Rinse and repeat if necessary. Finish by washing the pan with dish soap and rinsing with water. This method is particularly good at getting stubborn gunk out of the corners of a metal or glass baking pan.

5. Get some tea tree oil.

This essential oil is used for a variety of household tasks, everything from an antiseptic to bug spray. This "miracle" oil is also useful in loosening gunk from pans, especially the sticky variety. To use, add a few drops of the oil to the pan, add a few drops of dish soap and scrub for around five minutes. The gunk should wash right away.

6. Use a magic eraser.

You know that cleaning sponge that "erases" black marks and sticky stuff on appliance handles? Well, the Magic Eraser can also tackle those pans with tacky residue from PAM and other non-stick products. To use, simply rub the eraser around the pan and rinse. Save money by making your own eraser. To do this, start with a melamine sponge. Those are the ones with the tiny pores that look more like sandpaper than a sponge. Next, heat one cup of water and add 1 teaspoon Borax, a popular laundry whitener, and one tablespoon baking soda. Stir well. Set the sponge in the mixture and allow it to absorb the solution. Squeeze out the excess. You're now ready to begin scrubbing.

7. Borax and warm water.

Borax can also be used alone, with just a little bit of warm water to help clean your pans. For best results, add 1/2 cup of Borax to a sink full of warm water. Make sure that the Borax crystals are fully dissolved before you begin scrubbing.

8. Ketchup. Yes, ketchup!

This Internet tip for tackling hard-to-clean pans sounds a little bit outrageous, but we tried it, and it works. The theory is that the acid in the ketchup will eat away at the gunk on the pan. All you have to do is rub about two tablespoons of ketchup into the pan and rinse well. You'll find it works with no soaking and very little scrubbing.

9. Turn to Grease Gobbler.

If you don't want to fool around with home-made grease-busting solutions, give our favorite commercial product a try. Grease Gobbler works on all types of pans, is odorless and is easy to use. Just add two ounces to a gallon of water and use a sponge or a cloth to remove the burned on gunk. You can use this super-concentrated cleaner to get the built up grease off a variety of commercial kitchen equipment, just be sure to rinse it thoroughly when done.

Don't let the fear of dirty baking pans disrupting your service schedule keep you from offering your customers house-baked breads and desserts. Simply stock some baking soda, some bar keepers friend, some white vinegar, some Borax and a little elbow grease.

How do you remove the gunk off of your baking pans? Share it with us! Just tag @shopatdean on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. We'd love to hear from you.

To outfit your restaurant with the latest in high-quality, easy-to-clean baking pans and get tips on delighting your customers with delicious house-baked goods, visit or contact us at We've been helping Cleveland area and beyond outfit businesses and homes with professional kitchen and bar supplies for more than 65 years.


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