Regardless of whether you love to cook or it is simply a regular part of your daily routine, one thing is for certain. Cleaning dishes is a necessary evil. Most of your dishes can simply be rinsed off and placed in the dishwasher, but others require significantly more effort. Between frying foods on the stove and baking them in the oven, burnt or baked-on grease may be a regular source of frustration. Generally, you cannot rely on your dishwasher to do the job for you. How can you save your filthy dishes with minimal time and effort?
Understanding What Grease Is
You may use various types of grease while cooking, such as by spraying a pan or a baking dish with non-stick oil. Some foods, such as meats, naturally shed oil as they cook. Everything from avocado oil, coconut oil, canola cooking spray to margarine and even lard have different smoke points and flashpoints. The smoke point is the temperature when the oil or grease will begin to smoke. The flashpoint is when the oil may catch on fire. You do not need to know what these specific temperature levels are for each type of grease that you cook with. This is because the grease can bake onto the pan or dish well before it reaches the smoke point. Generally, the grease will be combined with food particles to create a truly stubborn mess to clean up.
Choosing Your Cleaning Method
Unfortunately, there is not a catch-all degreasing solution that will simply remove the stubborn substance with minimal effort. There are, however, several options available that you can consider trying that can break down the grease and potentially make it easy to scrub off. The results for each one may be dependent on the type of grease, the amount of food particles baked into it, the temperature that was reached while cooking and more.
You should try to remove as much of the grease and food particles from the surface as possible while it is still warm. Avoid pouring hot grease down the drain. Instead, pour it into a ceramic bowl. Once the grease has cooled down and congealed, you can scoop it out of the bowl and toss it into the trash.
After you remove as much of the hot grease and food particles as you can from the pan or dish, apply a liberal amount of liquid dish soap with hot water to the surface. This type of soap breaks grease down. Use an abrasive scrubbing pad to remove as much of the burnt grease as possible. You may also use a handheld brush, fine pumice or brine wool. In some cases, this simple step may be all that it takes to clean your pan or dish.
If you are dealing with a more frustrating situation, you can rinse the soap and water out of the container. Then, cover the dirty area with white vinegar. White vinegar is a solvent that is effective at breaking down grease. For the best results, allow the vinegar to sit on the surface for at least a few minutes or even for a few hours. This is a passive approach that could make it much easier to scrub the grease off.
If you do not have vinegar in your pantry or if the vinegar did not remove all of the grease, you can reach for baking soda. Apply the baking soda liberally over the surface of the container. Add a small amount of water so that the surface is covered with a thick paste. This substance will be slightly abrasive, and it can be effective at breaking down grease as well. As is the case with the dish detergent and the vinegar, use an abrasive scrubbing pad or brush to work the paste into the grease before rinsing it off. You could also mix baking soda with a small amount of vinegar. This approach will produce bubbles, and the mechanical function of the bubbles can potentially loosen more of the baked-on grease.
Repeat as Needed
When you apply more elbow grease while scrubbing your dirty pan or dish, each of these methods may be more effective. You can also take advantage of the benefits of time by allowing the dish to soak in the soapy water, vinegar or baking soda paste. In some cases, however, you may need to repeat these processes several times before the substance is fully removed. Patience and persistence can pay off when you are trying to remove baked-on grease from your dishes. Once the grease has been removed, toss the dish or pan into the dishwasher to complete the final stage of the process.
Prevent Future Messes
You understandably do not want to contend with baked-on grease more frequently than necessary. The good news is that there are several effective ways to avoid this type of situation in the future. One of these is to avoid using any type of cooking spray or oil additive on non-stick pans. These pans are designed specifically to be used without extra oils and grease.
When you are making foods in the oven, you can line your dish with parchment paper or foil. The specific liner that you use will depend on the type of food that you are cooking. There are also special plastic cooking bags that are designed specifically for use when baking foods in the oven and in crockpots. With forethought and a small amount of extra effort, you can dramatically reduce your clean up time.
Even when you take steps to prevent baked-on grease, you will inevitably still run into this problem from time to time. Now that you know how to handle the mess, you will not have to waste so much time and energy trying to keep your dishes clean.