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How To Keep Your Cake Pans Clean and Hassle-Free

Learn the simplest way to wash your cake pans with little effort. Maintaining healthy habits for storing your cake pans.

If you love to bake, then you probably have a collection of cake pans. These pans come in all shapes and sizes, and they are a starting point to countless baking adventures. A quality pan can last for years when washed and stored properly. In fact, you may even be able to keep your cake pans for generations.

The good news is cleaning your cake pans is as easy as 1, 2, 3. This is because cake is made from flour, water, sugar, and flavor. All these are water soluble ingredients that will simply wash away.

Before we jump into the specifics, it is important to recognize not all pans are made the same and how different types of material and finishing impact the ease of cleaning, sustaining pan's integrity, and therefore, its longevity.

Depending on the type of pan, it could change color, rust, or the safety of your pans being compromised. For instance, as the surface of coated pans degrade, chemicals can be released. This can negatively affect your baking and your health. Such chemical contamination is the last thing you want to add to your lovingly baked cakes.

Fortunately, these unsavory side effects can be avoided. All you need to do is learn the proper techniques for cleaning and storing. This can eliminate the risk of damage while enhancing the quality of your baking.

Virgin, Pure, Food-Grade Aluminum Pans

These pans are made of natural and high purity aluminum, and no chemicals are used in the production process or in the material. The pans do not rust under any circumstances as part of aluminum's characteristics. They yield excellent results in baking. The pans bake evenly and will not stick when greased and floured properly, which is why they are considered a baking mainstay.

Moreover, any potential discoloration, scratches or dents will not have any health implications as aluminum is proven to be one of the safest material when it comes to food contact.

Do’s & Don’ts

Let's start with don'ts, you should never put these pans, or any other type of pans, for that matter, in the dishwasher. The dishwasher is a useful tool for bakers. A messy kitchen can quickly be cleaned up when items are stowed in the dishwasher. It may be tempting to throw your pans in alongside your other tools, but that is a bad idea.

Aluminum cake pans are likely to be discolored or darkened in the dishwasher. This is because dishwashers' harsh environment made of intense heat and chemicals make the metal react and harden in order to defend itself.

How To Properly Wash Your Aluminum Pans

Start by rinsing the pan with a warm water stream coming out of your tap. Then, remove from stream and with a small amount of soap clean the pan with a sponge or soft wash cloth. Then, rinse the suds off the pan, and voila! you're done. Leave to dry on a drying rack of lay on an angle out on a dish towel to air dry. The angle helps clear the water that may gather around the rolled edge. You should not pile heavy pots and bowls on top of you pans. Your pans are the most important ingredient in your cakes, treat them special.

Types Of Sponges

Since it is clear that hand washing your aluminum pans is the best option, now you have to know the proper tools. When cleaning aluminum cake pans, be mindful of how you scrub. Abrasive sponges can scratch the metal surface.

Many people turn to abrasive pads because grease or residue can build on the pan's surface. Burnt scraps can be very hard to remove. That is what abrasive pads were made for in the first place. This is another shortcut you do not want to take. Instead of scrubbing, start with soaking. Soaking the pan for 45 minutes can significantly loosen the residue. Then, use mild soap, water and a non-abrasive cleaning pad to wash the surface.

Types Of Detergents

Once you have your favorite scrubber, you will need a detergent. The soap you choose can have a surprisingly large impact on the outcome. We have tested the aluminum cake pans with well known brands in the market like Dawn, Palmolive and Sunlight, and they have worked fine. Whatever option you choose, make sure the detergent is friendly on aluminum pans.

Anodized Pans

These pans are anodized, an electrochemical process that uses a chemical process to create a protective layer so the food is insulated from the metal and the potential impurities. It also makes the pan more durable.

Do’s & Don’ts

You can clean anodized pans the same way you would clean pure food-grade aluminum, but never use anything acidic on these types of pans as anything with a 13.5 PH will strip the anodizing and expose whatever the anodizing was protecting you from. So, absolutely no lemon juice or tomato juice to shine them up.

Painted Steel Pans

You probably started out at some point in your baking life with a “box store” pan made from painted steel. If you have a fridge magnet you can see if it will stick onto the pan. If it does, it has steel in there somewhere.

Do’s & Don’ts

With painted steel pans, you should wash as above but you must towel dry them by hand and shake them to get the water that finds its way into the bead. We would suggest lying a folded drying towel on your counter and gently tap the rolled edge of the pan onto the towel to get the water out. You see, these types of pans are painted for various reasons, but mainly so they do not rust. Well, the paint does not coat the inside of the steel bead so the steel will rust inside. You may see a ring of rust around the edge of the bead and seams on the pan. This will become an issue and though rust is oxidized iron, you do not want to get the flakes of rust in your food.

Additionally, you may get rust blisters anywhere on the pan or small spots of rust inside and outside of the pan. Again, this is not a good thing so be sure to dry these pans well. There is no fix for rust on painted steel cake pans, other than replacing them. Replacing there pans is not so bad, they got you started and brought you to where you are today.

Stainless Steel Pans

If you have stainless steel pan, you should know that they are not good at baking a cake. Stainless steel is an insulator which means it does not do a good job at distributing the heat so a cake will look baked on top but be still liquid in the center. You would have to overcook the cake in order to finish baking and you will probably have to scrub the pan silly to then clean it.

How To Polish Your Pans

Tarnishing / discoloration is a part of seasoning the pan. Seasoning is a process that naturally or willfully occurs on the surface of your pan. It is the natural aluminum ability to protect itself from oxygen and an accumulation of oil or fat baked onto the surface with heat and time. Seasoning has some natural release ability and may reduce the baking time a little. Seasoning is a good thing, and it is a sign of how much you bake. Colors may include some yellow grey or dark gray parts of the pan.

If you still want to polish your pan, then wash as above and, rub a small amount of real lemon juice into the surface. This will polish up your pan as it will remove the natural seasoning. Just like polishing silver with silver polish you will rub the pan with the lemon juice using a cloth or towel and just like silver you will see metal come off onto you towel. This is the acid striping away a small amount of the surface material. Do not do this on anodized or painted pans as this may be detrimental to the products integrity. Heavily seasoned pans may take a lot of work to polish.

How To Store Cake Pans Properly

Storing your pans is easy. First make sure they are clean and dry. Leave your pans out overnight on a tea towel or drying rack. Then nest smaller size pan inside the larger size pan with a paper towel between each one so that your pans stay dry and won't rub together. The scratches from rubbing are no problem but water that can find its way between the pans may cause them to stick together. If you are dealing with painted steel pans then wipe some oil on each pan before you store them. This will help prevent humidity from causing them to rust. Any of your pans can be lightly oiled if you wish.

If your pans came in a box, you can keep the box for storing purposes. If you buy cake pan sets of various size round pans 2”, 3” or 4” heights, pack them back in the box as a set when dry and ready then fold the lid down. This will keep them safe from being knocked around. Same size pans will not nest in each other, but you can stack three high if you stack bottom to bottom and top to top. It’s bust to use a box that fits the pan, so keep the box the pans came in.

Use Your Pans Only For Baking

You should use your cake pans for baking and remove your cake to enjoy outside the pan. Leaving you cake in a pan may make the cake soggy as the cake needs time to breath in the open air to avoid sogginess. Serving your cake from a cake pan is also not recommended as knifes or serving utensils will damage the pan needlessly.

If your pan does start to rust, fix the issue quickly. There is no magic bullet for this since you can't reverse the effect but rather minimize the rust from spreading. Start by sprinkling baking soda onto the affected portion of the pan. Let it sit for one hour before wiping the surface clean. You can also scrub the pan with lemon juice or citric acid. Simply apply the juice or acid, and let it sit. Then, wipe the surface clean. Also, cover the rusted areas with oil.


A quality cake pan can last for years when stored and washed properly. You would never skip a step in a recipe, then why should you skip the maintenance steps?

Here is a checklist for review:

  • Use a sponge or soft cloth and warm water plus hand dish soap

  • Keep your pans out of the dishwasher

  • Never use harsh chemicals like oven cleaner or laundry detergent

  • Only use Lemon juice to polish your pure food grade aluminum pans

  • Avoid using acidic and abrasive material like vinegar and baking soda

  • Reuse original boxes when you can for storage

  • Always store with paper towels between the pans

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