how to clean baking sheets, baking pans, and sheet pans

Baking sheets are somewhat of a point of contention in my house. You see, I have my nice, big, pristine aluminum baking pans, and if you don’t know how to clean cookie sheets the right way, you don’t get to use my precious cookware.

Because I’m so fond of my shiny, immaculate set, I tend to hide the clean sheet pans from my housemates, forcing them to use old, gross backup set that have been around forever. Apparently this is rude, but I just know they won’t take proper care of the nice set—I solely use them with silicone mats and avoid acidic foods that could stain them. Plus, I clean them right away to ensure they stay in good shape. Maybe I’m a little extreme, but I love how fresh and new they look, even after years of use!

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If you’re like me and take pride in your immaculate baking sheets, it’s important to know the right way to clean certain materials to remove residue, stains and burns, leaving them looking as good as the day you bought them.

Aluminum Baking Sheets

Many bakers swear by aluminum baking sheets, as this metal conducts heat evenly, making it a great choice for cookies and other desserts. However, it can react with acidic substances, creating a metallic taste and leaving unsightly stains.

Here’s how to clean your aluminum baking sheets:

  • Sprinkle a layer of baking soda over your baking sheet, then follow it up with a layer of salt. Put white vinegar in a spray bottle, then spritz a layer of the liquid over your pan.
  • From here, you can either start scrubbing with a sponge or, to make your work a little easier, soak the pan in hot water for 30 to 60 minutes before going in with elbow grease. Once you’ve worked off any stains and caked-on food, wash the pan with regular soap and water.

Aluminized Steel Baking Sheets

Aluminized steel is essentially steel that’s coated in an aluminum alloy—their appearance can vary from standard gray to pretty gold finishes. Regardless of their finish, aluminized steel pans are quite strong and durable, and their aluminum coating helps them conduct heat evenly.

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If your aluminized steel pans have seen better days, you can use baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to get them shining again:

  • Sprinkle a layer of baking soda onto your sheet, then pour on a generous amount of hydrogen peroxide. If needed, add more baking soda until it resembles a paste.
  • The key here is to give the mixture time to work its magic, so you have to be patient. Let the pan sit for two or three hours, then wipe it away with a cloth. If needed, you can use a coarse sponge to scrub at stubborn spots. Wash the pan with soap and water before using it again.

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Nonstick Baking Sheets

In theory, nonstick baking pans are supposed to be spared from stains, burns, and caked-on food. However, if you use any type of oil on nonstick pans, there’s a chance a sticky brown residue will develop over time.

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Since you can’t scrub these pans too hard without risking damaging the nonstick finish, it can be pretty tricky to get rid of the baked-on goo. Here’s one safe tactic to try:

  • Mix together water and baking soda into a paste-like consistency. Cover your cookie sheet in the paste, and let it sit for 30 minutes. You can then take a non-abrasive sponge and scrub at the residue.

And If You’re Stuck with Super Stubborn Stains…

If these all-natural cleaning hacks just aren’t getting the job done, there are a number of specialized commercial products that can help you tackle stubborn stains. For instance, Bon Ami is a miracle worker when it comes to removing grime thanks to its gentle abrasive formula—just don’t scrub too hard on nonstick finishes.

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Another popular product is Bar Keepers Friend, which works great on rust stains, tarnish, mineral deposits, soap scum, and more. You can use it on your favorite pots, pans, and baking sheets, as well as on other surfaces all around the house.

Bar Keepers Friend All-Purpose Cleaner, $5.79 at Walmart

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How to Prevent Stains on Your Sheet Pans

Once you’ve gotten your pans looking fresh, there are several easy steps you can take to keep them from getting stained and discolored again. One of the easiest options is to simply invest in silicone mats, which protect the surface of your pans without affecting their conduction.

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You can also use parchment paper or aluminum foil as a protective layer for your pans, depending on what you’re cooking. Parchment paper is nonstick, so it makes a great option for cookies and other foods that may otherwise get stuck to the pan.

Related Reading: 11 Sheet Pan Dinners for Maximum Flavor and Minimal Clean-Up

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