Don't toss out that old sheet pan! Use these simple cleaning solutions to rescue a baking sheet with burnt-on stains.

By Alicia Chilton
Updated August 07, 2020
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Baking pans and cookie sheets take a lot of heat as they work to deliver meals and sweet treats. But even the most attentive cook can't prevent occasional burnt-on messes, greasy splatters, and sticky sugars. And these stains and scorch marks add up over time. At some point, it will be time to toss your old sheet pan and replace it, but often, all it needs is a little TLC to get it looking like new. If your sheet pan still has some life in it, read on for our tips for cleaning baking sheets with natural ingredients. Before you start, note that non-stick baking pans require different care than their uncoated counterparts.

How to Clean Baking Sheets: Five Must-Try Cleaning Solutions

These methods show you how to clean baking sheets with DIY cleaning solutions starring baking soda, vinegar, and peroxide. Plus, learn which store-bought cleaners and tools work best.

1. How to Clean Baking Sheets with Baking Soda

A no-scrub solution is one of the easiest and best ways to clean baking sheets. This method from Kitchen Living With Coryanne uses baking soda ($1, Target) to clean cookie sheets. Start by pouring boiling water onto the pan and add a few tablespoons of baking soda. Once the solution stops bubbling, allow it to sit for an hour before wiping away the burned-on debris with a soft cloth ($16 for 10, Amazon). Finish the job by hand-washing the sheet pan with mild dish soap.

If the scorch marks or burned-on messes are stubborn, tap into the abrasive nature of baking soda with this no-scrub method from Melissa Maker of Clean My Space. Soak the sheet pan with a mixture of 1 tbsp. baking soda, a few drops of dish soap, and hot water for one hour to overnight. After soaking, you should be able to scrub away any debris or stains. For non-stick pans, avoid heavy-duty or abrasive scrubbing. Maker says this combination works well thanks to the abrasion from the baking soda and the grease-lifting power of dish soap.

2. How to Clean Sheet Pans with Baking Soda and Vinegar

For an extra tough mess, use baking soda and vinegar to clean baking sheets. Baking soda is a great lifter, and vinegar is a natural acid, says Leslie Reichert, the Green Cleaning Coach and author of The Joy of Green Cleaning ($15, Amazon). Reichert recommends this simple method to clean cookie sheets with baking soda and vinegar.

Fill your kitchen sink with hot water and pour in equal parts baking soda and vinegar (approximately a half cup each). Place the cookie sheet in the sink and let it soak for 30-60 minutes. Next, scrub with the abrasive side of a basic kitchen sponge ($5 for 6, Walmart). After you’ve cleaned off the baked-on residue, wash the pan with mild dish soap and dry. 

For non-stick sheet pans, you’ll want to skip any vigorous scrubbing to protect the coating. However, baking soda and vinegar can also be used to clean a non-stick baking sheet. Cover the baking pan with 2 tsp. baking soda and 1 cup vinegar and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. This will release stuck-on food so that it can be wiped away. Once the mess is gone, wash the pan with mild dish soap.

3. How to Clean Baking Sheets with a Scouring Tool or Product

You can also roll up your sleeves and clean old baking sheets with scouring tools. Grab a copper cloth ($13, Amazon) or even a rolled-up sheet of aluminum foil to scrub away burnt-on stains. A granulated detergent like Bar Keepers Friend ($15, Amazon) or Bon Ami ($1.50, Target) combined with abrasive scrubbing is no match for an old sheet pan. A little elbow grease will have your old baking pans looking like new in just a few minutes.

Skip scouring tools and agents when cleaning non-stick pans, says the research and development team at Calphalon. The silicone polyester coating is good at keeping food from sticking but can be damaged if you use an abrasive cleaner or cleaning tool like a steel wool sponge.

4. How to Clean Baking Sheets with Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is hardly reserved for the medicine cabinet. Keep a bottle in your cleaning caddy and break it out to clean cookie sheets along with baking soda. 

Sprinkle a scorched pan with baking soda and pour hydrogen peroxide ($0.95, Target) over it, followed by another layer of baking soda. Let the mixture sit on the pan for up to two hours. Wipe the mixture off with a sponge. If needed, repeat the process for tough stains. Once finished, rinse the baking sheet well and wash it with mild dish soap.

Maker cautions that peroxide can have a bleaching effect and is not a food-grade product. If you choose to use it, first test the peroxide on an inconspicuous spot. Be sure to thoroughly rinse and wash the sheet pan after you complete the stain treatment. There are plenty of ways to clean baking sheets without hydrogen peroxide, so start with one of our other methods first.

5. Clean Baking Sheets in a Self-Cleaning Oven

As a last attempt, place your ruined baking sheets in the oven and turn on the self-cleaning cycle. Be sure to follow the oven manufacturer’s instructions for using the self-cleaning feature. Once the cycle is complete and your sheet pans have cooled, wash with mild soap and dry. 

If your attempts to salvage a scorched baking sheet aren’t successful, it might be time to purchase new pans. This is especially true if they are scratched, warped, or the non-stick coating is peeling, scratched, or worn away.

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