Here are three easy ways to know if your drip pans need to be cleaned:
1. They started off silver, but are now scorched-earth black.
2. Touching them with your finger transfers a horrific oily film to your skin.
3. Turning on the burner sets off the smoke alarm.
Any of those sound familiar? It’s time to clean! Here’s the thing: it’s a lot easier to identify a dirty drip pan than it is to get it sparkling again. You could break out the stainless steel sponge or grill brush and spend hours scrubbing like Cinderella before the ball. But that’s not fun, and it doesn’t always work. So we recommend taking a more strategic approach.
Here are three scrub-free ways to clean your dirty drip pans:
#1: The Baking Soda Jacuzzi
Time: 30 minutes
You’ll need: Baking soda, large pot, dish soap
Remove all except one of your drip pans. Then place a large pot of water on the remaining burner, and add about ¼ cup of baking soda to the water. Bring the mixture to a boil, and drop your pans into the “Jacuzzi.”
Let them sit in the boiling water for about 30 minutes (you may need to run a few loads depending on the size of your pot). Then, carefully dump the drip pans into your sink and cool them off by running warm water over them. Any remaining gunk should come off easily by washing with soap and water. Dry and replace your clean drip pans, and then repeat the process with the one drip pan you left behind.
#2: The Plastic Bag Sauna
Time: 5 hours (of soaking time)
You’ll need: 4-8 medium or large plastic bags, baking soda, vinegar
Remove each of your drip pans from the range and place each one in a separate plastic bag. Then add ¼ cup of baking soda and ¼ cup of vinegar to each bag. Shake them up so things gets fizzy, and then let the bags sit for at least five hours. Remove and thoroughly rinse all parts with warm water (there may still be some remnants that need to be wiped off). Then dry and put them back!
A Stronger Alternative: If this doesn’t work – or your drip pans are apocalyptic-level dirty – you can use ammonia instead of baking soda and vinegar. Just add a small amount to each bag (it’s the fumes that do the cleaning) and let them sit for 12 hours. If you do this, remember that ammonia is a toxic chemical that should be kept away from kids and pets, and should never be mixed with other chemicals like bleach.
#3: The Wallet Workaround
Time: A trip to the store.
You’ll need: $10-$20
It turns out that drip pans don’t cost a lot of money. You can purchase a set of four online or at your local hardware store for $10-$20, depending on the material and quality. So, if you’d rather circumvent the whole cleaning thing and just grab a fresh set, more power to you.