The Pyrex Series: Cleaning 101

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today's Pyrex post is about cleaning! We will identify the various common stains on Pyrex and the many different cleaning products that can be used on them!

First we'll simply identify some useful cleaning tools that you may want to equip yourself with to tackle dirty Pyrex!

Pyrex Cleaning Tools:

Cleaning Pyrex 101, originally uploaded by jenib320.
Liquid dish soap, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Baking Soda, Bar Keeper's Friend, Corningware Cleaner, Oven Cleaner, Dawn Powder Dissolver, Goo-gone, and Scotch-brite pads.

*Before your break out all your cleaning supplies and get working, please don't forget the most important rule in Pyrex cleaning! Always test products (with the exception of regular old dish soap) on the bottom edge of a piece. Check to make sure you are not removing any color. Older pieces don't hold up well to some of these products!*

I think most Pyrex collectors will agree that aside from dish soap, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is one of the most useful cleaners for Pyrex! It is truly "magic"! :)

I have added notes to all of these images to better show the stains. To view them you will need to click on the image and be redirected to flickr.

Yellow/Brown Stains

Cleaning Pyrex 101, originally uploaded by jenib320.
First and arguably the most common stain on Pyrex is a yellowish stain as seen in the backstamp of this bowl. This will sometimes just be dirt, and can be removed with a little soapy water. Generally however, it needs to be removed with a Magic Eraser. Wet the eraser and the piece. Do a little scrubbing and it should be gone!

Grease Stains

Cleaning Pyrex 101, originally uploaded by jenib320.
One of the other very common stains on Pyrex is baked on grease. It usually appears in dots like this and is also usually found on the handles. A little scrubbing with a Magic Eraser can help, but often is not enough. I usually attack these stains by soaking the piece in hot water + baking soda. Soak for an hour or two depending on how much grease there is. Then use a Scotch-brite pad and a little soap to scrub away the grease. I have found the Corningware Cleaner and Dawn Powder Dissolver are helpful with these stains as well. Sometimes the stain will get into the grooves and can be scraped out with a toothpick or pin.

Metal Marks

Cleaning Pyrex 101, originally uploaded by jenib320.
One of the hardest stains to remove are these gray streaky stains. They are metal marks. The best product to remove them is Bar Keeper's Friend and Corningwear Cleaner. Generally, Bar Keeper's Friend will remove them completely, but will also remove the shine, which you don't want. I only use Bar Keeper's friend on white pieces and only leave it on for a few seconds before scrubbing and rinsing it off. Sprinkle it on your sponge or scrubber and not directly on the Pyrex. Be VERY careful while using it because it is pretty abrasive and can damage pieces. I use this as a very last resort. The Corningwear Cleaner can remove these stains but will also remove a bit of shine although not nearly as much as the Bar Keeper's Friend. Just be careful when using either product!

Oven Stains

Cleaning Pyrex 101, originally uploaded by jenib320.
The only stain that has completely stumped me so far are these pesky stains. I am still a little unsure what the stain is, but I have only seen it on baking dishes so far, so I must conclude that it is some kind of oven stain. I have been told that oven cleaner can be used on these but I have not had luck with that yet. The oven cleaner I have was purchased at the dollar store, so that might be why I haven't had any luck! A woman at a flea market last weekend suggested I try the cleaner for glass stovetops but I have yet to try this out!


Cleaning Pyrex 101, originally uploaded by jenib320.
Another thing to look out for that is not a stain is scratches in the color. When shopping, a simple way to check for this is to hold a piece up to the light. The scratches will let light through and you can easily see them. These cannot be removed in any way.


Goo-gone and rubbing alcohol can be helpful when getting off pesky price stickers! Another thing you may run into while shopping for pieces is Pyrex that has had it's lid taped together with packing tape. This is especially annoying for collectors as it can take off the pattern if you aren't careful! I found this out the hard way! In order to safely remove the tape I suggest (using rubber gloves) to pull up a tiny bit of the tape, and then let very hot water run on it and slowly pull it off. The water seeps under the tape quite well and allows it to come off much easier. This method has worked very well for me since my original debacle with packing tape!

One more thing to mention is fading! Color fading and loss of shine in general cannot be fixed, although some have had luck in restoring shine using oils. I however have not! If a piece is faded from age or dishwasher use, there is pretty much nothing that you can do!

As you are out thrifting and collect more pieces, you will learn how to recognize stains and know what you can get off and what you can't.

If anyone has any other tips or tricks on cleaning Pyrex please do share in the comments and I'll add them to this post! Hope this was helpful! As always, click over to the Pyrex Love website for lots of Pyrex information! Next week's post will be about general care!


Melissa said...

I've found that rubbing alcohol helps remove the leftover crud from stickers and sometimes permanent markers. When I use Bar Keeper's Friend, I put it on a paper towel that has warm water on it and sprinkle the powder on that, rather than put it directly on the Pyrex. I find that the shine doesn't come off when it's used that way.

Anonymous said...

this is a great post jeni! When I bought my gooseberry mixing bowls one of them had a ton of metal whisk marks on inside, I asked my mom how to clean it (shes a trained chef & works at a kitchen supply store) and she sent me a bottle of le creuset dutch oven cleaner and it took them right off! If you want to try some, let me know, I'll have her mail me another bottle!

Gretchen said...

If I were a hiring scout for Martha Stewart I would definitely bring you in as a summer intern. You're perfect! You should apply for this summer!

Keep up your blog and your Flickr photostream and photograph all the work you've done at school - they're great for your portfolio.

Tulip Girl said...

That was very helpful. Thank you!

SixBalloons said...

Jeni, how much baking soda should you dump into, say a sink full of water? Is it just a teaspoon or so, or quite a bit more?

Jari said...

I just stumbled on your site. I too collect Pyrex. I love it! I have found that the best way to clean it is with Borax and regular dish soap. That will remove just about anything and if it doesn't you can add a small amount of Hydrogen Peroxide to the mix and it works like magic! There is no residue, no scratching and no color fading. I use about 1/2 cup of borax to a sinkful of hot soapy water and about the same amount of peroxide. Peroxide is also a sanitizer so if you find a piece that is really nasty it will remove any creepy stuff too. Peanut butter works great for removing adhesive. Just smear it on let it set then wash it off.

Borax and Peroxide will remove dried water spots and white residue from china and crystal without any damage as well.

Remember, never ever put your vintage Pyrex in the dishwasher. It will fade the color.

I hope this helps!

Jari Decker

Anonymous said...

when all else fails. Put in sink with hot soapy water and add powdered dishwasher soap - I know you're not suppose to put in diswasher but when everything else fails try this.....I have had great luck with it on those pyrex pieces that are caked and almost unrecognizeable and have not lost the shine on any pieces - and the blackened cracks/edges either a sharp pointed knife if a toothpick doesn't work (obviously after soaking)

Sonia2 said...

Wowza! I was looking for removal of aluminum stains on pyrex and found your site. It's almost as if the aluminum fused itself with the bowl. Not sticking but staining.
Now, however, I am in a pickle. My once common pyrex bowls are now treasures. Should I even mention the daisy glass covers I threw away 25 or more years ago because they were awkward to store and I never used them anyway?
In 1972 after our elopement (is that a word?) we received as gifts at least 5 pyrex bowl sets. Being the 70's two sets were various oranges and red solid round bowls and my favorite--the Cinderella Friendship bowls. At least 20 years ago I had to rescue my largest red bowl back from a neighbor who borrowed it for her family gathering and never thought to return it. I like to make fresh strawberry Jello mousse in it for our family gatherings. The other two sets were varying shades of green, including 70's avacado . . . naturally. The green sets have been dispersed among family members--wonder if they still have/need them. Hmmmm? And did I also give away the smallest and largest bowls from my medium round red bowl set or are they in the garage when we downsized in order to try and sell the house.
Sorry I'm getting carried away here.
My stain question was somewhat covered in the metal marks instructions. I used aluminum foil over an orange bowl for a pork chop and rice casserole and it stained the bowl almost half way down all around the bowl. So far I have used the magic sponge with some success but wondered if there was a faster solution.
Thanks for letting me ramble and who would have thought my favorite bowls had such a wonderful name. My 5-year old granddaughter will be excited to hear I have "Cinderella" bowls. ;-)

Leon Chingcuangco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leon Chingcuangco said...

Any suggestions on removing water spots from vintage pyrex?

Anonymous said...

Any suggestions for how to remove sulphur water stains on colored pyrex?

Unlimited Nostalgia said...

For many years I have been using a solution of Biological Laundry Liquid (used to be powder before liquid came along) to clean all manner of baked on grease. It works well on Pyrex as well as on stainless steel, including oven shelves. Simply soak them in a reasonably strong, very hot solution and most of the grease can be wiped off within a short space of time. The thicker and more burnt on the grease, the longer you will need to leave it but lighter layers come off in no time. I used one of the big under-bed plastic storage containers with a lid for my oven shelves. I do them one at a time and leave each one for a couple of days.
Another tip is to soak china in a bucket of thin bleach, it's also good for bleaching out crazing marks from old china. I just poured some in the bottom of a white Pyrex pie dish which had yellowed, and within about 10 minutes the stains had gone. I just use the cheap bleach at 39p for 2 litres.

diamondmarine said...

remember to soak the goodwill or thrift store tag in warm water for about 20 minutes then softly rub it away.

Anonymous said...

I also had foil stains on a vintage yellow pyrex pan. Tried EVERYTHING-then used peroxide-took 2 minutes and they were all gone!

Unknown said...

Can anything be done to get the dullness removed from the bowls and restore the shine?

Jeni Baker said...

Not that I know of! The dullness is generally there because the shiny outer layer has been damaged or worn away.

Theresa said...

Are the still worth buying? I found a early American piece w top, gold designs hardly there and very full. Paid 3 bucks

caravw said...

I left something metallic soaking in my vintage pyrex. Any ideas how to remove rust stains? I tried magic eraser and baking soda and vinegar.

Jeni Baker said...

I would try bar keeper's friend!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Peroxide saved Mt yellow Pyrex baking dish. Magic