Baker's Dozen: Cleaning and Storage Tips for Commercial Bakeware

A chef is only as good as his or her tools, and as such, the best chefs take the best care of their tools and know how to clean cookware and bakeware. Knowing how to clean and store tools of the trade is half the battle, particularly when it comes to bakeware, which requires its own unique processes in order to keep it in top form.

We gathered a baker’s dozen of expert tips for cleaning and storing these items.

1. Inspect, repair and replace regularly

Give every piece a once-over before and after each use to make sure there are no cracks, dings or other damage. If you can fix something, do — but remember to use food-safe materials. If you can’t fix it, recycle and replace.

2. Prep with parchment paper

Cut down on cleaning before it starts, suggests George Geary, a former pastry chef for Disney. His go-to tool? Parchment paper. Not only does using it to line a pan reduce how much you need to clean, it allows for easy release of the finished product.

3. Let it cool

In an effort to keep the workflow going, it’s tempting to wash your bakeware immediately after use. Patience, grasshopper. Let it cool completely before soaking it. The extreme temperature shift can cause the pan to bow and the bolts to loosen.

4. Rinse first

Give your bakeware a cool rinse to remove crumbs and other detritus before washing in earnest. The hot water from the dishwasher or tap can actually make some residue harder to remove when cleaning your cookware and bakeware.

5. Then scrape

Scrapers can be used on most commercial-grade bakeware, but — again — it’s always smart to check manufacturer’s instructions. Regina McRae, the founder of Grandma’s Secrets, is all for these handy cleaning products, and uses scouring pads to “clean down to the nub.” Use these abrasives carefully, though — and not at all on Teflon® and other nonstick bakeware. You don’t want to scratch the delicate surface of your expensive new baking pans.

6. Slather on some baking soda

You already have plenty of baking soda around, so bring it over to the sink. Ashley Seigel of MyClean, a professional cleaning service located in New York and Chicago, covers stubborn residue with a thick mix of baking soda and water. “Let this baking soda paste sit on your pot for several minutes — just don't let it dry,” she explains. “Next, wipe with a damp sponge or non-abrasive nylon pad. Repeat if there is any burnt food left.”

7. Skip the dishwashing machine

Geary keeps it simple with a good old-fashioned hand-wash in warm soapy water. “I never dish-wash the bakeware as it can discolor it and change the texture of the pans,” he says.

8. Skip the chemicals

Commercial dishwashing stations often use chemical washes and detergents. You should not! Some materials like cast iron absorb any chemicals that touch the surface. That’s not the kind of “secret ingredient” you want in your baked goods.

9. Handle electric items with care

Break down any electric appliances as much as possible to ensure thorough cleaning of, say, blender parts and to avoid immersion of motor housings. And don’t forget this one universal piece of advice, courtesy of Catherine Rodriguez, pastry chef at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa in Houston: “Always make sure they’re unplugged when cleaning!” Seems obvious, but in the rush to get another batch started or get home before dawn, this is exactly the kind of thing it’s too easy to forget.

10. Let it air dry

Beatriz Hoover, former baker for the Mount Washington Hotel and Resort in Bretton Woods, NH, suggests letting bakeware items dry on their own rather than taking a towel to them. Why? “Less micro-lint or carry-over from laundry detergent that could be trapped in the grooves of your bakeware,” she says. Plus, if you use sanitizers, air drying is often required for the solution to do its job.

11. Store carefully

Geary admits that storing bakeware can be difficult, due to the unique shapes. He recommends stacking by size and type, and shelving on sturdy industrial racking that can handle the weight. Though bakeware is designed to take high heat, don’t store it on top of the salamander — that’s just too intense.

12. Organize by frequency of use

“Store items by use and arrange your kitchen wares by how often you use each item,” Seigel says. “The more frequent dishes place on an easy-to-reach lower shelf and special-occasion pieces up above as they are not used as often. Second, group similar objects together. Group bakeware by purpose and assign them to specific cabinets.”

13. Create a buffer

Waxed paper isn’t just for food items. “I put wax paper between the pans so they don’t scratch each other while being nestled,” McRae explains. Simple, effective, inexpensive.

Michael S. Julianelle is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife and young son. He runs the anti-parenting parenting blog “Dad and Buried” and his wife thinks he should memorize this list.

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