dirty pan to clean pan

How to Conquer Burned-On Oven Crud

I don’t know how else to describe what happens to beautiful sheet pans once they take up residence in my kitchen. All I can say is that in no time they begin to get this nasty build-up of what I call oven crud—a burned on incrustation of oven filth.

It’s not that I don’t wash and scrub those pans. I do. But apparently not well enough. I’m just not willing to spend hours of my life to keep sheet pans and ovens looking the way I want—clean and sparkly.

dirty pan to clean pan

I’ve been on a rampage to conquer this problem once and for all. Call me idealistic but I’d like my sheet pans and oven to clean up as easily as my dishes and dishwasher. Is that too much to ask?

I’m pretty excited to share with you what I’ve learned through much trial and error. Now, I won’t boast perfection, but I’ve come up with a protocol that’s working really well for me based on the task at hand.

Light crud

Soak the pan for a few minutes in hot water plus a little Blue Dawn. Next hit with a scrubby sponge like this Scotch Brite (see Note 1) before putting it into the dishwasher (see Note 2). If I am consistent to do this every time I use that pan, it works great. Done.

Medium-light crud

If the light treatment doesn’t easily remove the crud, I follow with a quick scrub using Bar Keepers Friend, then into the dishwasher (see Note 2) it goes.

Medium crud

If it doesn’t come clean easily with Dawn and BKF, I have a problem. Provided the crud has not been baked on multiple times over a long period of time, a simple homemade process using hydrogen peroxide and baking soda should loosen and soften the crud so it can be scrubbed away. But there’s waiting time involved.

Cover the problem area with a generous sprinkling of baking soda. Next, spray the baking soda with fresh hydrogen peroxide (pour some into your own empty spray bottle), followed by another layer of baking soda. Allow this to sit for awhile, even overnight for tough situations. Using a wet sponge or Scotchbrite scrubber, scrub the area clean and rinse with water. This should not require a lot of time or a great deal of elbow grease.

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Heavy crud

When none of the above takes care of the problem fairly easily, it’s time to bring out the big gun—a serious degreaser. My favorite is Dawn Dish Power Dissolver, a remarkable cleaner because it melts baked-on crud without fumes, even leaves a pleasant fragrance. Dawn Heavy-Duty Degreaser is a good alternative, for the same reason.

A good oven cleaner like Easy-Off Fume-Free Oven Cleaner is also an effective oven crud cleaner. I’ve used them all and prefer Dawn Dish Power Dissolver because it does most of the work, and really fast. I don’t have time to wait overnight.

A close up of a bottle

I use Dawn Dish Power Dissolver to clean the inside of my Breville countertop oven, and my standard oven, too. And I use it on the glass doors as well. It “melts” all that crud, so I can wipe it clean within minutes, not hours.

(I’m not a fan of the self-cleaning option on my big oven because it takes hours to complete, it’s noisy, makes the house smell funny; I still have to get in there and wipe it down to remove all the ashes—even then it does only a mediocre job of cleaning. What a mess.)

Finally, there are two things I’ve stopped using in an effort to minimize oven crud.

Non-stick spray

I no longer use non-stick cooking spray directly on sheet pans or bakeware. I suspect that has been the source of a lot of sticky, gooey, baked-on oven crud. Instead, I line sheet pans with foil and then spray the non-stick cooking spray on the foil. In the case of muffin and cake pans, etc., I grease them with vegetable oil to prepare them for the oven.


I’ve stopped using household ammonia to clean because of the fumes, a method still recommended by some to coax off burned-on oven off. The ammonia method requires a lot of time and a lot of work. But the biggest problem: I just can’t take those fumes! There are reasons to believe that breathing ammonia fumes is hazardous to our health.


1. There are two types of Scotch Brite sponges. The one that is green is “heavy duty” with tiny strands of metal buried in the scrubbing side. While this is great for bakeware, pots, and pans— never use a green Scotch Brite on your stainless steel sink or kitchen appliances. It will scratch them in ways that cannot be reversed or repaired. For those items use the blue Scotch Brite Non-Scratch sponge. The scrubbing side is plastic only, which makes it less effective on oven crud, but a good choice for sinks and appliances.

new spunge

2. The sheet pans and bakeware that I put in the dishwasher are stainless steel, not aluminum. You should avoid putting anything aluminum in the dishwasher as it will turn dark and nasty. If you have heavy crud on aluminum, scrub by hand, rinse, and dry.

First published: 8-7-17; Expanded, updated and republished:  1-28-19


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  1. Cindy K. says:

    FIRST: I am a long time follower and have incorporated many of your suggestions over the years. THANK YOU so much!! SECOND: I remember reading about the Dawn Dish Power Dissolver in one of your posts a while back. Just last week I was looking at the top of my very old stove with dismay: lots of cooked on mess. Then I read your post yesterday, and I recalled how I purchased the Dawn product after reading that post. I pulled it out from under my sink and gave it another try on just one section as I was pressed for time. I let the Dawn sit for 30 minutes as per the directions on the bottle, and then I scrubbed it. The results were amazing…that section is now clean and shiny! Now on to the other sections! What a great product!

  2. Norma Schmidt says:

    Where can one find the Dawn Powder Dissolve? I can’t recall ever seeing it in any of the grocery stores around here. It sounds like something I could definitely use.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      There is a link in the post, Norma. You’re right … it is not readily available in stores but you can get it online by following that link.

  3. Jhc says:

    Do you use these same recipes on your Pyrex or Corningware bake ware?
    I use the dollar store oven cleaner sprayed on the dish inside a plastic bag, close the bag and leave it to marinate. The dark brown burned on grease rinses off easily. OUTSIDE is required but this works year round.

  4. Jhc says:

    Yes – I read all the way thru and found note #2 at the end. That was my FIRST question as I was reading because someone returned my shiny heavy duty favorite aluminum pan to me clean BUT obviously run thru their dishwasher
    ( ever after, treats are gifted to them on a paper plate)

  5. nancy says:

    Thanks Mary. I will try these options to clean my pans. If pans are aluminum they can’t go in the dishwasher. they turn black in there. I found out the hard way.

    • Sue in MN says:

      I agree with limiting use of the sprays – they definitely polymerize in heat and create that sticky gooey crud you observed. Similarly, fats and oils can vaporize in the oven and form deposits on the bakeware and oven itself. It’s one very good reason to wipe up or scrape up spills as soon as you realize they have happened.
      But I have a question. Once you have done the Dawn, scrubbie, BKF, etc, why would you bother to put your pans in the dishwasher? It is a waste of energy and water to put already-cleaned dishes, silverware, bakeware, or anything else in the dishwasher. Save it for dirty stuff! Or resign yourself to the idea that you put dirty pans in the dishwasher and they might not “sparkle like new.”

  6. Lida Krieger says:

    OK, I got confused. I was referring to the Dawn Platinum that I use to clean pots and pans that need it. I checked on the Power Dissolve you mentioned and it is outrageously expensive!

  7. Gina Stevens says:

    Ammonia is great for cleaning oven racks. Double a couple garbage bags, add a cup of ammonia and the racks. Close the bags to trap in the fumes. Set it outside for a day or two. Hose off the racks and they’ll be fairly spotless. Any residual spots will come off easily with a steel wool pad.

  8. Lynda Ruiz says:

    Just a note – when I use the self cleaning function for the oven I actually vacuum out the ash before wiping it out. Much easier.

    • Suzanne says:

      Great idea! Would you consider submitting that as a tip on the EC2 site so other readers can benefit from your idea? And, if you enter the current contest, you could possibly win some cash!
      Suzanne, EC Staff member

  9. Sharron says:

    I use Reynolds non-stick foil on all cookie sheets and metal pans when baking and no more dirty pans or non stick spray smoke. I also put heavy duty foil in the bottom of my over as well as the pull out tray in the bottom of my toaster oven to eliminate oven cleaning altogether. I wish I had thought of it years earlier. Just replace when dirty.

  10. Lida Krieger says:

    How do you use the power dissolve on the inside of standard oven? Wish it could be sprayed on but probably too thick.

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