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Help me, Bloggy-wan Kenobi...
Okay, time for one of those routine little questions that probably has an obvious answer, but I don't know what it is.

So I made steak for us the other day. The plan had been to do it on the grill, but the gas supply had other ideas, so I did it stovetop. All of which was fine, but the aftermath is giving me problems.

I did the steaks in one of my good anodized-aluminum pans (*not* nonstick), and I suspect there was a bit of residual vegetable oil in it from the onions I had sauteed just before the steak. I did a hot, fast sear of the steaks, maybe four minutes at Hotter Than the Blazes of Hell. And now there is this sticky, gunky crud around the edge of the pan, which I am having a damnable time getting off.

Ideas? Jane always used to deal with the dishes, so I'm missing some clues here. I'm always cautious about resorting to serious abrasives, but I don't know if there are any decent alternatives...

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What have you tried?

Nothing terribly interesting: dishsoap and hard scrubbing with a medium-grade abrasive sponge. That isn't getting me far, though, and I realized that I am actually outside my knowledge here...

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Hmm. I suppose that's plausible...

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For the scraping, harder spatulas tend to work better than bendy ones, which are made even more pliable by the boiling water.

My default is to try baking soda and white vinegar to break down grease, and try a small bit see if a light scrub with steel wool will bring it up without damaging it. And REALLY hot water.

Okay, that makes sense. Thanks...


Unless you like turning it back into plain-old heavy aluminum.

Aluminum Oxide is what they make sandpaper from.

Soak with a tbsp of dishwasher powder

This isn't so great for anodized aluminum pots, either. They don't like bases.

Deglazing is usually better done with a bit of acid as well as water. Try it with water and lemon juice.

But really, what I reach for is either Bon Ami or Barkeeper's Friend. I always have one of the two in the house. Both are essentially rock dust powder. Dust the (dry) pan with the stuff, add just a few drops of water to make a paste, and scrub. Gets rid of just about anything and doesn't scratch dishes.

By the way -- in my opinion, the best scrubbing tool out there is a Dobie. Soft enough that it won't scratch your nice pots, strong enough to do almost any job, and they last reasonably well. If you need more than a Dobie, it's time for copper or steel wool.

Another vote for acidity, Dobie sponges, and heat.

Eeeuch, the gunky sticky stuff. You have my sympathies.

Riffing on rufinia's suggestion: try filling the pan half-full of water, stirring a half-cup of baking soda into the water, then boiling it down to mostly-empty. Dump out the water and scrub. That's how we clean the worst stuff off of our pans.

I don't know that pan type in particular (and I hope you've solved this problem by now), but I always start oily- or sticky-skillet cleanups with water and a couple squirts of dish soap, put on to boil for a while. (I do this right after removing the pan contents, so it can cook while we eat. Plus, the pan is already hot so it's faster than it would be later.)

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