Ready to put your baking sheets in the dishwasher? Not so fast! You need to know about this first.
Fellow foodies! As always, let’s be real between us here: Who’s got time to scrub cookie sheets and roasting pans by hand? And even if you can find the time for it, is it really how you want to be spending your time? We’re all looking for ways to cut down on kitchen clean-up time, and that’s fine. Cleaning isn’t why we got into cooking in the first place.
But before you shout, “That’s right!” and start loading those trusty sheets in the dishwasher, hold on. There are a few things you need to keep in mind, and I’ll tell you all about them if you read on.
First and foremost, not all baking sheets are the same — you’ve got some due diligence to do if you want to know if yours can go in the dishwasher. Check the manufacturer’s use and care guide, or take a look at the baking sheets’ description on the Internet. It will either say that they are dishwasher-safe, or that they should only be washed by hand. That implies most of what you can and can’t do.
But just because your baking sheets are dishwasher-safe, does that mean it’s a good idea to clean them that way? You know, like the tachometer on your car goes to 7,000 RPM, but you never really redline it that far because you don’t want to blow out the engine.
Why Baking Sheets Shouldn’t Go in the Dishwasher
Just because dishwasher cleaning is an option for your baking sheets, it doesn’t mean it’s the best one. Here’s the lowdown.
Are the baking sheets made of aluminum or stainless steel?
Your typical baking sheets are made of uncoated aluminum. And unless that aluminum has been anodized, the chemicals in dishwashing detergent will straight up ruin the surface. Sure, some wear and tear can be expected, but scratches and discoloration aren’t cool. So if your pans are looking more worn out than they should, it’s probably the dishwasher’s fault, not the oven’s.
Now, if you’re rocking a set of sheeny and sturdy stainless steel baking sheets, you’re in luck! They’re generally dishwasher safe. But even then, you’ve got to be careful. The dishwasher’s long cycles and harsh detergent can dull and pit them, and they can come out with weird gray or colored spots.
Are your baking sheets non-stick?
Should you load non-stick baking sheets in the dishwasher? To make a long story short, forget about it! They should never go in the dishwasher, no matter how hard the manufacturer’s marketers try to convince you otherwise.
The non-stick coating on your baking sheets is a thin film of a chemical called polytetrafluoroethylene (don’t worry; I’ve got no idea how to pronounce it either) that’s sprayed on the metal at the factory. If it comes into contact with any cutlery or utensils during the washing cycle, it will scratch and start peeling off.
When the non-stick coating on your baking sheets gets scratched and starts peeling off, you have to throw them away and buy a pair of new ones because — come on — you don’t want to be ingesting artificial chemicals with a dodgy safety record.
How to Clean Your Baking Sheets by Hand
Okay, so you’re convinced by now that you shouldn’t be loading up your baking sheets in the dishwasher. What’s next? If cleaning them by hand is the way to go, how do you do that?
Wiping away grease by hand with dish soap and hot water is a good place to start. Use the green, scouring side of a soft sponge to get rid of any grease and grime.
If you’ve got some baked-on food that’s not budging, don’t worry, there’s a workaround. Fill the sheet with water and let it soak for about 15 minutes. That will soften up the food residue and make it much — and I mean much — easier to scrub away. You can use a plastic or wooden spatula to gently scrape off the food and then use the sponge to scrub away the rest.
Another tip is, you can use baking soda or the professionals’ secret, Bar Keeper's Friend, to clean the baking sheets. Mix a paste of baking soda and water, apply the paste on the baking sheet and then use a soft brush to scrub the baking sheet. Then rinse it with hot water and dry it.
And you’ve got it! Your baking sheets will look as good as new.
It’s not a great idea to load up your baking sheets in the dishwasher, especially if they’re made of aluminum or have a non-stick coating. The best option is to clean them by hand. Wipe away the grease with hot soapy water, use the green, scouring side of a soft sponge and if there’s baked on food residue, fill the sheets with water or soak them for 15 minutes so you can scrub the residue away. With a little bit of elbow grease, your baking sheets will be good as new in no time.