dirty sheet pan

How to Clean Cookie Sheet Pans So They Look New

They come in sizes big and small, rimmed or without sides. We use them for baking 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.

dirty sheet pan

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

What follows are relatively quick and easy ways to clean cookie sheets, depending on the severity of the baked-on grease, stubborn food residue, and even rust on any type of cookie and baking sheets—aluminum, aluminized steel, and non-stick—and then how to clean and maintain to keep them sparkling clean.

How to Clean Cookie Sheets with Baked-On Grease

Baked-on grease can be a tricky mess to deal with, especially if it has built up over many uses. But the following methods for each type of sheet pan should help solve the problem.

Aluminum Cookie Sheets

Sprinkle cream of tartar all over the top of your baking sheets. Add water and bring to a boil over the stovetop for 5 minutes. This should lift the grease off of the pan. Simply rinse away any remaining residue and dry.

Aluminized Steel Cookie Sheets

Place your cookie sheet on the stove. Fill about halfway with water and a few drops of Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid. Bring the water to a gentle boil for about five minutes. Let the liquid cool thoroughly, then scrub the pan with a stainless steel scrubbing pad to remove baked-on grease.

Non-Stick Cookie Sheets

Sprinkle the top of the cookie sheet with baking soda. Pour vinegar over the baking soda so that the powder begins to fizz. Let the sheet stand for 30 minutes. Gently scrub any remaining grease. Rinse thoroughly and dry.

Tougher Situations

Washing Soda and Cream of Tartar

  1. Sprinkle equal amounts of washing soda (not baking 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 15 minutes only, especially if you are cleaning an aluminum pan.
  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.

Baking Soda and Water

  1. Create a paste with warm water and baking soda
  2. Cover the cookie sheet with the paste
  3. Let sit for 30 minutes
  4. Gently rub stains with a nylon scrubber until the spots are gone
  5. Wash thoroughly and dry immediately


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



Best 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.



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.


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, making it more warp-resistant; it conducts heat super well and is resistant to scratching. Quite easy to clean and maintain, too.



with a good cookie sheet, you’ll make delicious memories for years. 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 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. Mary says:

    I tried some of these methods but they did not work for me. I’m thinking of using Easy Off no fumes. has this worked for anyone ?

  2. Pat Sherman says:

    Silly question perhaps, but how do you know the difference in aluminum, steel, etc. or exactly which of the materials an older grimy pan is?

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Generally this will give you a great clue: Get a magnet. If it sticks to the pan/skillet, it’s steel. If it won’t stick, aluminum. If it looks like aluminum, but the magnet sticks either with tight connection or it sticks but it’s not stable, that’s a clue that there is at least one layer of steel in there somewhere, likely “aluminized.”

  3. COLLEEN Heatwole says:

    I tried the above treatment for my stained aluminum pans and it did nothing. The only thing that worked for me was Dawn Power Dissolver and even with that I had to scrub spots with a stainless steel scrubber.

  4. Debbie says:

    I worked in bakery and the thought was to just leave those layers build up. It’s a natural coating instead of teflon. My cookie sheets of 40+ years have a wonderful patina on them. I just wipe them off. Sort of like a cast iron pan.

  5. Freya Waynberg says:

    These are great tips but how can I clean an aluminum cookie sheet that has no rims? It’s a plain old fashioned cookie sheet.


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