Old dirty oven baking tray

How to Clean Cookie Sheet Pans So They Look New!

They come in sizes big and small, rimmed or without sides. We use them to bake just about anything, but mostly cookies. And they can get super grungy with layers of baked- and burnt-on grease resulting in ugly stains and residue build-up.


Does anything here look familiar to you? If so, I have good news. Your cookie sheets can be cleaned and restored, even back to the way they looked when new.

What follows is a relatively quick and easy way to get rid of baked-on grease, stubborn food residue, and even rust on any type of cookie and baking sheets—aluminized steel, aluminum, and non-stick—and then to clean and maintain to keep them sparkling clean.

How to deep-clean cookie sheets

  1. Sprinkle equal amounts of washing soda and cream of tartar onto the cookie sheet.
  2. Pour a small amount of very hot water on top of the sheet.
  3. Mix the ingredients into a thick paste.
  4. Spread the paste evenly across the pan, making sure to cover all of the gunk and grime.
  5. Let sit for 20 minutes.
  6. Scrub stains with a non-abrasive scrubbing pad, like Scotchbrite heavy-duty for aluminized steel or non-scratch for aluminum and stainless steel.
  7. Wash paste and dirt off the pan with hot water and blue Dawn.
  8. Rinse well, then dry thoroughly before storing.

How to maintain cookie sheets

To prevent a build-up of food residue, grease, or rust going forward, follow these tips for cleaning and maintaining baking and cookie sheets.

  • Avoid big messes to begin with by lining your pan with aluminum foil,  parchment paper, or silicone baking mats.
  • Coat pans with a very light layer of oil to prevent rusting.
  • After washing, immediately dry cookie sheets to avoid a build-up of bacteria and rust.
  • When possible, hand-wash cookie sheets immediately after use
  • Never put an aluminum baking sheet through the dishwasher. Aluminum has a negative reaction with automatic dishwasher detergent that can damage the finish and stain it permanently.

Best Inexpensive cookie sheets


Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet. These are my absolute favorite cookie sheets. First because they are inexpensive, but also because they are relatively heavy but not too heavy to be easily managed in and out of the oven. They clean up well and have a nice rim size.

While I also own this cookie sheet in full-sheet size, I use it rarely because it’s super large. The half-sheet size might be the only sheet pan you’ll ever need—and so nice you might want to own two.

Aluminized steel

USA Pan Warp Resistant Non-Stick Aluminized Steel Bakeware Cookie Sheet. While a bit more pricey than aluminum, aluminized steel is much heavier which makes it more warp-resistant; it conducts heat super well, and is resistant to scratching. Quite easy to clean and maintain, too.


Wilton Perfect Results Premium Non-Stick 21 x 15-Inch Mega Baking Pan. This is a very nice cookie sheet and the price is right. However, in that it has a non-stick coating, it is delicate, requiring gentle handling and care.


A good cookie sheet is one you’ll be making delicious memories with for years to come. And when you know exactly how to clean your baking sheets and keep them free of baked-on grease, grime, and gunk it will give you that spark of joy that makes baking so much fun.

Start with a good one like the Nordic Ware that I recommended above, and you’ll never have to worry about hopelessly stained cookie sheets or heat warping again.



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12 replies
  1. Sandra says:

    I was so excited to see this. Bought some washing soda and pulled out my cookie sheets. Followed the instructions, and nothing. Absolutely no change.

  2. Beth Ringwald says:

    My favorite way to bake cookies is on baking stones. Even if I leave them in the oven longer than I intended, I get cookies that are crispier than usual, but not burnt.

      • Pat Weiser says:

        I’m interested too. I have a baking stone I hardly ever use and love crispy cookies! In fact, I’m still looking for the perfect cookie recipe that is not a mini-cake, crispy in the outside and chewy in the center. Mary?

    • Mary Hunt says:

      No, Susan. Completely different. Make sure you use washing soda. Click on the link in the post to see exactly what it is and what it looks like. You may be able to find it in your supermarket laundry products aisle.

  3. Sue in MN says:

    The cookie sheets & jelly roll pans in my kitchen range in age from 73 years (Mom’s flat aluminum cookie sheet – a wedding gift) to less than 2 years (Nordic Ware Commercial from the Factory Store.) I have 3 standout favorites, the two I mentioned above and a commercial grade stainless steel 1/2 sheet jelly roll pan I got from my father-in-law more than 30 years ago. The non-stick versions have all been tossed in a bin in the basement, where they only come out at our massive family Christmas bake. The rest are only used on the wood grill, or have been given away.
    QUALITY MATTERS! Buy the best you can afford. So does careful use, and proper cleaning. Use parchment, foil or silicon mats instead of baking sprays – they polymerize in the oven and create a difficult to clean layer of gunk over time. Another great tool for burned on crud is BarKeepers’ Friend used with a non-scratch scrubber. My Mom’s cookie sheet has probably baked at least 50,000 cookies over the years, and aside from being a bit battered, it looks as good as the newest one.

  4. Betty Thomas says:

    This is a timely column. Not only for the holidays coming up but for my dirty sheet pans that i have been about to toss and replace! i use my sheet pans constantly, to place on the rack below a casserole or pie to prevent spills, for cookies and the ever popular sheet pan dinners. Thanks Mary, I will be giving this a try very soon.


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