Whenever my friend's daughter comes over for dinner, I make her favorite -- homemade macaroni and cheese, the gooier the better. The only problem? It covers my baking dish in a grimy, baked-on layer of cheesy mess.
We've all run into these messes from time to time. It used to be that I'd leave the baked-on disaster soaking overnight in hot water -- which was just gross by morning. Then I tried using hot water and vinegar or baking soda, letting the dirty casserole dish sit for hours. These methods worked to some degree, but no matter what I did I would still have to scrub and scour to get the dish clean. Then I had an aha! moment.
It happened one day when I was unloading groceries and set a box of fabric softener sheets on the table. I knew that dryer sheets soften laundry -- so would they soften a baked-on mess too? Worth a shot, I thought.
I put a dryer sheet in the bottom of the baking dish that happened to be soaking in my sink, and refilled it with hot water. I let it sit for a half hour while I put groceries away and went about my business. When I got back, that baked-on mess was history.
Why? The same softeners that make your laundry fluffy help to break down food too. I recommend stocking up on chemical-free dryer sheets from companies like Seventh Generation
or Mrs. Meyers
, which use plant-derived softening ingredients (we're talking about your dishes, pots and pans, after all).
Then bake that mac and cheese, stir that pot of sauce and sear that lovely steak with confidence. As long as you've got a box of dryer sheets lying around, cleanup will be a breeze.
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