Even the toughest of spots don't stand a chance against our expert-approved tips.
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dirty casserole baking dish
Credit: Manny Rodriguez / Getty Images

If you're an avid home cook, you know that a casserole dish is an essential tool in the kitchen. In addition to being the go-to piece of cookware anytime you prepare your favorite casserole recipes, the pan is a vessel you likely use for everything from baked pastas and delicious gratins to fruit crisps and cobblers. With all this use, food can easily get baked onto the bottom, sides, and corners of a casserole dish, and when that happens, these spots can be extremely difficult to remove.

Globs of cheese, browned bits, and sauce remnants may seem impossible to get off, but even the most burnt-on messes can be removed if you know the steps to take and have the proper tools at your disposal. To ensure your casserole dish comes out sparkling clean after its next use, we turned to an expert. Here, they explain how to clean this cookware essential and what you'll need in your arsenal to do so. 

Let It Soak 

First things first: You want to let your casserole dish soak before trying to scrub off the baked-on bits. Vera Peterson, president of the cleaning service Molly Maid, a Neighborly company, says to let the dish soak in hot water and a few drops of dish soap for anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours, depending on the severity of the baked-on debris and the dish's dirtiness. "The hotter the water, the better," she says. "Hot water can help cut through thick messes and tough to scrub spots." The only exception to this rule is if the meal you made in your casserole dish is dairy heavy. "Dairy tends to get stickier with warm water, so cold water is better for cleaning dishes with cheesy messes," Peterson explains. 

Scrap Off Debris 

If you have stubborn spots that you don't think will be removed with a sponge or scrubber, try scraping off the baked-on food before cleaning it with traditional methods, like soap and water. To do so, Peterson says to use anything plastic that has a somewhat thin and sharp edge, like a spatula. If the areas you're scraping won't budge, she recommends applying warm white vinegar or room temperature rubbing alcohol before continuing to clean the dish.  

Use Soap and Warm Water

Once your dish has soaked, it's time to get to work. Peterson says to start by gathering your materials, including rubber gloves, dish soap, sponge, baking soda, warm white vinegar, and a towel. The cleaning expert also recommends putting on rubber gloves before you start scrubbing to protect your hands from grease and oil. At this point, the pan should be filled with hot water and dish soap from the soaking process. Add a few more drops of soap to the pan, then use a wet sponge and scrub the dish firmly and thoroughly with a stream of hot water flowing continuously. Rinse the pan with hot water and repeat the process until you start to see progress. "If your dish is still dirty and stuck with debris and these steps aren't helping, try covering the surface area of the dish with baking soda and pouring vinegar into it," Peterson says. "Wait while the chemical reaction occurs and wipe away with your soapy sponge." Once the dish is clean, use a dry towel to wipe away excess water.

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
April 18, 2022
What was overlooked is that a wet "eraser" type sponge used for marks on walls works GREAT on porcelain or Corning Ware casserole dishes for removing gunk. After you removed all you can, use one of those sponges/sheets to polish off any marks that remain.