There are fewer kitchen cleaning problems we rue more than the gunky glass baking dish. It’s an issue that starts small, but then one day you open your cabinet to find a greasy, brown mess has replaced your sparkling Pyrex. And we’ve heard every trick in the book on getting these dishes back to their once-spotless state.
Well. We wouldn’t be Good Housekeeping if we didn’t finally determine the best strategy, once and for all. So we turned to our resident “queen of clean,” Carolyn Forte, director the Cleaning Lab in the Good Housekeeping Institute, to test four methods we’ve often heard people — or, cough-cough, Pinterest — recommend.
Which strategy would make our super-dirty dishes gleam again? Here’s are the results:
1. The Winner: Baking Soda + Dish Soap
When battling a serious baked-on mess, you need to hit it with a one-two punch. We coated the bottom of this pan with baking soda and dish soap, and let it soak in hot water for about 15 minutes. Then, we grabbed a sponge and continued to sprinkle more baking soda over the stubborn spots as we scrubbed — and the abrasion from the baking soda easily lifted the grime away.
“This worked because it had all the right components to dissolve stuck-on grease — a hot water soak, mildly abrasive baking soda, a scrub sponge, and some elbow grease,” says Forte. “This method cleaned our dirty dish fastest and with the least effort.”
2. The Close Second: Magic Eraser
Though this method required a bit more elbow grease than we’d prefer (much more than the baking soda and dish liquid, which is why it wasn’t our overall winner), it did get the job done. The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser’s scrubby surface was no match for the seriously stuck-on food residue.
“What this tip was lacking was the soak time,” says Forte. “Magic Eraser definitely made a noticeable dent in the greasy build-up, but without soaking the pan first, this method required too much effort and multiple pads.”
3. The Disappointment: Dish Soap + Aluminum Foil
We’ve long heard that a ball of aluminum foil can beat your sponge in scouring match, but we just weren’t wowed by this DIY tip. The dish detergent did what it could to lift the grease (we soaked our pan in soapy warm water for about 15 minutes first), but the foil didn’t hold up its end of the deal.
“The foil flattens quickly and doesn’t provide the necessary scrubbing action. Choose a scrub sponge instead,” says Forte.
4. The Big Fat Loser: White Vinegar
Vinegar is a super-handy natural cleaner, so we had high hopes when we noticed bloggers pushing the magic of soaking grimy bakeware in the stuff. We dunked ours for 20 minutes before we started scrubbing — but alas, our efforts were for naught.
“Don’t waste your time or your vinegar on this tip,” says Forte. “The vinegar didn’t make a dent in the grease on our glass dish. Save your vinegar to clean your coffeemaker instead.”
Don’t Let the Grime Build Up Again
The best way to deal with an icky glass dishes is, of course, to avoid the mess in the first place.
“Make sure you scrub glass cookware quickly after each use,” says Forte. “The longer grease builds up, the more difficult it is to remove. Pay special attention to the corners and handles as these areas are often more challenging to clean thoroughly. After you wash and dry the dish, hold it up to the light to check it. Food residue is often not visible when it’s wet and in the sink — it’s easier to see when dry and held to the light.”