Thursday, January 17, 2013

Four Fantastic Pot & Pan Scrubbers

Burned cheese sauce, omelets, burned oil, crusty oatmeal... Whateves. They're no problem for these fantastic, all-natural pot scrubbers that you probably already have in your house.


Image via the internets. Wish I had captured this in action before I gave up coffee.

Brew coffee at home? Reuse about 1 TBS of the spent grinds to scour your omelet off your stainless steel pan. Coffee grinds keep for several hours so you can use them later to remove other stubborn food from pots and pans. Just make sure you toss them out (or compost them) at the end of the day or else they'll be moldy. Also beware: This will dye your sponge, dish rag, and any other fabric it touches sepia.
This is my all time favorite scrubber! I've used coffee grinds to clean up a variety of burned, crusty food from stainless steel pots and pans and they always work brilliantly. It's so great, it's the thing I miss the most now that I've stopped drinking coffee regularly.

Pine Needles

Omelet meet Pine.

Pine needles have scour power and release a delightful smell. I saved a few branches of our Christmas tree before I tossed it out (making potporri) so I happened to have a lot on hand. You can pull pine needles off the branch, but it's no problem if some are still stuck to a little twig. That will help scour too! It takes about 2 TBS/ half a small handful to scour a pan.
I tried this for the first time today. It worked well to clean up my boyfriend's omelet pan and a pot that I used to cook burn vegan cheese sauce in, though I should note that I pre-soaked the cheesey pot in warm water while I ate breakfast. It isn't the best scrubber but it works well enough. Compost the pine needles when you're done with them.

Baking Soda + Dish Soap + Heat

I damaged this pan, but I also fixed it thanks to Melissa Maker's strategy.

This tip comes from Melissa Maker at Clean My Space. Check out her video and blog post for full details. It is more of a process than a one step fix, but it's a fantastic, low effort way to clean superdurty burned pots and pans. It requires no soaking, so this is great for when you've got company coming over or need to leave town right after you do dishes. It's also the easiest way to clean up burned oil. I imagine it's also safe for pans with non-stick coating so long as you use the soft side of the sponge in the final step.
Confession: This summer while apartment sitting, I badly burned a fancypants All-Clad pan while re-heating seitan cutlets. (Notice a pattern? Yes, I burn food. That's why this is a cleaning blog and not a cooking one.) I tried baking soda and a scouring pad: Fail. I added Ecover dish soap to baking soda and used a scouring pad: Fail. I tried Ecover soft scrub: Fail. Then over Christmas, I apartment sat in the same home and found the same pot was still burned. I tried this along with a scouring pad. Success! And it was so easy!!!
I've used Melissa's method with both Ecover and Seventh Generation brand dish detergent, so I don't think the brand of detergent matters much.

Plastic Produce Netting

This is an easy one. Save the plastic netting that comes with your onions, oranges, pistachios, potatoes- you know the kind, it's usually bright green or red...and  wrap it around your sponge. (The more times you wrap it around the sponge, the more scrubby it will be.) Use this to scrub pots. It's good at removing chunks of food from pre-soaked pots of burned rice and oatmeal.  Obviously plastic isn't natural, but it's a great way to reuse what would otherwise be trash. It's also reusable for as long as you want to keep it. Just remove the netting from the sponge and soak it in equal parts vinegar and water for 10 minutes every now and then to clean it.

Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 

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  1. I've tried the baking soda trick before, and was amazed. It got the burned-on black gunk off my stainless steel pot that NOTHING ELSE could get off. What an interesting list!

  2. Wow! These are so creative. :) Coffee grounds are abundant in my apartment, but I never thought of using them to do dishes!

    1. Thanks Marissa! Yes, coffee is my favorite! You are so lucky to have an abundance of it. You can also use coffee grounds as body scrub or facial scrub. I tried it once and didn't like it very much because it's messy and stains my cloth shower curtain, but it did leave my skin very well exfoliated.



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