Roasted vegetables in an aluminum cookie sheet coated with baked-on greasePin

Cleaning Grease from Aluminum: 3 Home Remedies

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We all know someone whose aluminum baking sheets and pans are coated with dark, baked-on grease that doesn’t budge. For years, that’s how my mine looked, too, and no matter how well I washed them they never got shiny again. So, I tested the internet’s suggestions for cleaning grease from aluminum. When those failed, I came up with one of my own. Plus, I picked up a few tips to share about how to keep that mess from forming in the first place.

What Causes Baked-On Grease?

Sometimes, the dark layer of baked-on grease happens when baking sheets aren’t washed until they’re squeaky clean after use. Then, you’ll see the pan start to develop brown blotches in the corners or along the edges that just get worse with every use. Other times, the dark layer forms when a baking sheet prepared with cooking spray or butter encounters high heat in the oven, or if food splatters grease and oil as it cooks.

Did You Know?

Did you know that repeatedly heated and baked-on grease can produce harmful compounds like acrolein, which not only has a strong, unpleasant odor but can also be irritating to the eyes and throat?

Ways to Clean Grease Off Aluminum

I’ve seen several suggestions for ways to get hardened grease off of baking sheets, but only the cream of tartar method worked for me. Since not everyone keeps that on hand (though you should, it’s the key to making meringue cookies and pies), I’m sharing the three most popular home remedies to remove that grease from your baking pan—hopefully you’ve got the ingredients for one.

Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

For this method, you sprinkle baking soda all over the pan then spray it with hydrogen peroxide and use your fingers to make a paste to scrub the pan. After 30 minutes, wash it in hot, soapy water and rinse away the grease. Except, that method didn’t work for me at all.

How to clean baked on grease from aluminum from HousewifeHowTos.comPin
A toaster oven pan after scrubbing baked on greasePin
The baked-on grease was still on my toaster oven’s baking sheet after three rounds!

Vinegar or Lemon Juice and Water

Another suggestion to clean grease off aluminum baking pans is by soaking them for an hour or so in equal parts vinegar or lemon juice and hot water. The idea is to break down grease with acetic acid in vinegar, or citric acid in lemon juice, plus hot water. But, although my pan smelled lemony fresh, it was no cleaner.

Cream of Tartar, Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

For this round, I used equal parts of cream of tartar and baking soda, sprinkled them on my toaster oven’s aluminum baking sheet, and sprayed it with hydrogen peroxide. After about 15 minutes, I scrubbed the thing with my fingers, rinsed, and the results speak for themselves.

Grimy aluminum tray is shiny again

Did You Know?

Cream of tartar is an acid while baking soda is mildly alkaline, so ordinarily they’d neutralize each other. But in this context, besides being mildly abrasive, their interaction creates an effervescence which, combined with hydrogen peroxide, disrupts the structure of the baked-on grease. 🤓

Tips to Keep Your Aluminum Pans Grease-Free

Only you can decide if you’d rather spend 5 minutes scrubbing the grease off a cookie sheet or spend the $15-20 to replace it. But once you go through the effort to get them clean, here are some tips to prevent grease from forming on them again:

Line the baking sheet. Instead of greasing your cooking sheet, lay down a piece of foil and grease that instead. Or, for grease-free baking, use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Moderate oil use. Use only the amount of oil called for in a recipe, rather than guessing at it. More oil does not always mean better cooking.

Clean immediately. As soon as the pan is cool enough to handle, wash it in hot, soapy water to keep oils and grease from hardening as they sit. Heads up, though: make sure the water is hot, so you don’t warp the pan from a drastic temperature swing.

Keep in mind that even though it takes a bit of scrubbing to remove, leaving that grease on your aluminum pan can lead to a smoky mess that ruins your food and stinks up your home. So, head to your pantry for the home remedy ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and use one of these methods to get your aluminum pans and bakeware clean.

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  1. May GOD bless you. You’ve answered my prayers.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad it helped you, Ann!

  2. Christina says:

    2 dishwasher tabs.. leave over night and voilá the dirt is gone ?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I can see how that would work, but it could certainly get expensive!

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