Sustainable Haven Blog

Kayce Cleans | Advice for the Sustainable Home | Vol. 2

We dedicate our new column to a gentleman in Brooklyn just looking to deep clean his kitchen. They're both great questions and good chores for the Spring to do list. They also seem a lot more annoying to fix than they actually are, which is always a nice surprise.

Have your own home project question? Email me at

Kayce, I need your help on two cleaning projects. First, I have some scorch marks on the bottom of an enameled cast iron skillet. I have tried the scrub and I have scrubbed quite a lot but those stains won't come out. Is all lost?

The steady darkening of the bottom of our favorite pan is definitely one of the most common kitchen annoyances. While I'm in the camp that a little patina on a well-loved pan can actually look great, it's good to keep it down to a minimum so you don't end up with unsalvageable cookware...

The best tip I have for this is prevention. Thoroughly cleaning pans with a good soap, scouring powder and fine steel wool will keep them in good shape. It's annoying to do after you've cooked a big dinner, but that's why I love the rule that the cook doesn't have to do the dishes. Once the stains become etched into the enamel and repeatedly heated and cooled, they're almost impossible to get off completely, so the best you can hope for is to lessen their appearance, which is what I'll try to help you with today.

My favorite thing to do for this chore is make a soft scrub by blending Soap with Scrub. The fruit acids, essential oils and abrasiveness of the powder really eat away at those baked-on food oils.

To start, pour two tablespoons of Scrub in a bowl. 

Pour a teaspoon or two of Soap on top.

Stir until it makes a paste and the mixture begins to foam a little.

Apply the soft scrub to the entire surface of pan. Just use your hands. No harsh chemicals in these bottles!

Leave the paste to work for 30 minutes or so. 

Then, using steel wool, a little extra Scrub and hot water (plus plenty of elbow grease), start scouring. This is how far I got with about 10 minutes of work, so another round of soaking and scrubbing should remove most of the remaining spots. The soft scrub does a great job of shining up the steel, too.

If you're looking to clean the inside of a pan, cover the bottom with about 1/4" of baking soda, fill pan to brim with water and let it boil for 15 minutes. This should loosen stains and help whiten the enamel. Then use this same soft scrub recipe to finish cleaning.

On to the next one...

Second, I used my coffee grinder as a spice grinder and now the coffee grinder seems yellow and smells like the spice mix after several washes.

Mmm, cumin coffee! I recently ran into this problem with my food processor after I made something particularly aromatic in it. Luckily, this is an easy job, which is a relief after that pan workout you just got. You'll need uncooked rice, baking soda and/or coarse sea salt

  • Pour all the ingredients into the machine and grind, pulsing repeatedly. 
  • Leave the mixture in machine for an hour or so.
  • Pulse through the machine again and remove. 
  • Clean and dry the grinder.

If there's still any odor, you can try grinding a piece of bread. The stickiness of the bread glues itself to spices that might be hiding out in the crannies. Pulse a fresh mixture of rice, salt and baking soda through the machine afterward and you should have a very fresh grinder. Wash it, dry it, then treat yourself to a nice cup of spice-free joe.

Great questions - thanks for writing in!

Happy Spring and happy scrubbing!

  • Olivia says...

    Brilliant! I would have never figured out that one for the spice flavored coffee grinder! Hope you are well Kayce!!! Sending happy cleaning nerdery vibes from Providence!

    On September 06, 2012

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