Ask a Clean Person: Gunky Le Creuset, Grungy Silpat, and Grody Disposals

I have three cast iron pots/pans from Le Creuset, in yellow, or at least what USED TO BE YELLOW. The bottom especially is like dark brown and spotted. This is all on the outside, the inside is nice and white and lovely but the outside looks like hell. I scrub and scrub. What will take this off and how do I prevent further discoloration?

Remember back when I started this column, how I confessed that I don’t love Bar Keepers Friend? (I want to love you, Bar Keepers Friend! You’re like so many boyfriends past: great in theory! I want to want to be your wife! But I don’t know, you just don’t do it for me and oooh look at that tube of Comet making eyes at me, haa-aay cowboy.) Well, the one area where I will endorse it is as a cleaner of enameled cast iron. There’s also Bon Ami, which is equally fantastic for the purpose of gussying up your LCs. Whichever you please! I prefer Bon Ami’s packaging. Also, Bon Ami’s Twitter account is a million times better than Bar Keepers Friend’s account, which is run by someone named Chrissy who’ll have you thinking terribly unkind thoughts about her within a week of hitting the follow button. (OH MY GOD, CHRISSY, STOP @ING ‘SURLATABLE’ IT’S SOME RANDOM GIRL NOT THE STORE YOU NITWIT.)

Le Creuset makes an Enameled Cast Iron Cookware Cleaner product, but I imagine it’s quite similar to the cast iron enamelware cleaner Sur La Table sells (THE ACTUAL STORE, CHRISSY, NOT POOR RANDOM GENEVIEVE IN SINGAPORE), which I’ve used and not found to be effective. At all. Grrr.

As a last resort, I’ve heard people propose the use of an oven cleaner like Easy-Off, but I really, really would prefer you not do that to your Le Creuset. It’s too precious for that sort of harsh treatment!

I received a Silpat baking mat as a gift, which has been a godsend and has allowed me to burn things and then just peel them off afterwards. However, not surprisingly my beloved Silpat is now kind of… scrungy looking. Like, nothing burned on but more of a gray/brown scum? I have tried scrubbing it with baking soda but I’m worried I might somehow abrade or damage the surface so I switched back to soapy water. What should I do!?

Ugh Silpats. I’ve never liked a Silpat. (Sorry, I don’t know why this is the week where I work out my issues with products that everybody but me loves.)

Anyway! The good news is a stained Silpat will work just as well as a spanking new one, but of course that’s not really the point here, which brings me to the bad news: There’s nothing you can do about stains on a Silpat. The silicone absorbs grease as you cook, and over time the mat will take on a dingy hue until the thing finally wears itself out after fifteen hundred or so uses.

My roommate and I recently moved into a place with a garbage disposal. Yay for no more clogged drains! The problem is, it’s recently started to stink. Like, rotten garbage stink. Throwing some citrus rinds down there is a temporary solution, but it soon starts smelling again. What magic solutions do you have?

Um, I Googled “magic spells cleaning” because I’m a crazy person, but apparently not as crazy as the woman out there who suggested cleaning your floors with a solution of Tabasco and your own urine to ward off evil spirits.

Putting magic aside for the time being, what’s happening here is that food particles have collected on the walls of the disposal. The citrus peel-as-freshener is a great trick, but not one that’s going to really get things clean, so what you’ll want to do is plug the drain and fill the sink half-to-three quarters of the way up with cold water and dishwashing soap — you could also use OxiClean, vinegar, castile soap, baking soda, or bleach (shhh, no one heard me say bleach). Now pull the plug and turn on the disposal. When the water level in the sink starts to get low, turn the cold water on and let the thing run for a minute or two. Maybe buy earplugs?

Another approach that I could never handle because I have the hearing of a bat and MY GOD WHAT IS THAT NOISE??? is to throw a dozen or so ice cubes own the drain, sprinkle rock salt over the cubes and then flip the switch on the disposal, letting it run until the ice is completely ground. But seriously, WHAT IS THAT NOISE?

Previously: Sprouting Windows, Moldy Teeth, and Dirty Tea.

Jolie Kerr is not paid to endorse any of the products mentioned in this column, but she sure would be very happy to accept any free samples the manufacturers care to send her way! Are you looking for a green alternative to the suggestions found here? Because we’ve got some! More importantly: Is anything you own dirty?

Photo via Flickr