Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

January 19, 2015

How to Clean Baked on, Burnt on Grease and Grime from Vintage Pyrex Bake Ware

Looking back through my Instagram photos, it looks like my most recent vintage Pyrex purchase happened 11-ish weeks ago.  (I have a memory like a sieve, so I need visual aids.)  15 weeks ago I traded some of my Butterfly Gold Pyrex to snag some pink Gooseberry pieces for my Mom's pink Pyrex collection), 16 weeks ago I found a lid for Mom, 17 weeks ago I found a piece at the dump, and 20 weeks ago I found a flamingo pie plate:

Flamingo pink Pyrex pie plate

I guess what I found recently is the motherload, comparatively: two brown fridgies (part of the town and country set, I think) and two flamingo bake ware pieces.  The flamingo colour was produced 1952-1956 and, for some reason, it's not terribly popular among collectors.  Most turquoise bake ware was only produced for one year (1956) and these pieces have become very popular - much to my chagrin.  They have escaped my grasp because my thrifting mojo is not that good and, sadly, the prices online have crept up pretty high.  I have a new appreciation for flamingo pink, which seems more plentiful.  Since selling 30 pieces in a flash vintage Pyrex sale on Instagram, I find myself with some room for these...

Flamingo Pink Pyrex Bake Ware

The two flamingo pieces are especially neat because they were made in Canada!  I'm not sure Canadians got a handle on Pyrex manufacturing because we only produced it between 1947-1954 (in Ontario!)  Look at the uneven paint application on the piece below; you can see the colour sort of fade away and become more sheer.  It's not dishwasher damage, the application even feels rough there - like they ran out of paint.

Made in Canada Pyrex

Also, the logo was applied backwards, how it would be on a clear piece - so it's readable from the top, through the glass, as opposed to flipping it over and reading the bottom. I'm not sure if this was intentional or not, but it caught me off guard.

When was Pyrex made in Canada?

When I found these, they were very dirty.  You know that burnt on, caked on, un-scrubbable grease and grime that some thrift store kitchen wares have?  A simple soak and elbow grease doesn't always do the trick on the stuff that's been stuck on for decades.  Fellow Pyrex collectors have suggested many fixes: a Coke soak, Barkeeper's Friend, Mr. Clean magic eraser.  I tried some of these methods and wrote about them here.  This will be an addendum to that post because I tried something else - suggested by Instagram Pyrex friends and people who commented on the post - and it worked like a charm: oven cleaner! That's right - oven cleaner can clean baked on grime from Pyrex bake ware.

Here's the before:

How to clean baked on grease from Pyrex

I put the pieces in a plastic bag, opened a window (phew!), sprayed a liberal application of foaming oven cleaner right onto the grime, then tied the bag shut.  I waited an afternoon and then rinsed off the oven cleaner.  The grime and baked on grease had softened and slid right off, like butter, without damaging the finish.  Then I gave both pieces a thorough wash in hot, soapy water to make sure I removed the last of the goo and also the cleaner.

Look at them now!  So shiny and calling out for some brownie or banana bread batter.

How to clean grease from vintage Pyrex
Vintage Pyrex Collection

I am still relatively new to Instagram but if I'd have know about the hashtags #pyrexlove and #pyrexforsale, I'd have joined years ago!  Heck, I might have been motivated enough to invent Instagram ;) I've met some wonderful people over there and have had the pleasure of ogling amazing Pyrex collections that make my vintage Pyrex collection look like a starter set.  It's a great community of people who are always ready to help identify a piece, trade items to help one another complete sets, revel in a great find (or commiserate when necessary), or offer tips like this one!  I'm sure Hubby is thrilled to bits that I'll no longer pass by hopelessly grimy pieces - he's my designated item-carrier when thrifting.

EDIT: Although oven cleaner has been generally recommended by Pyrex collectors, I have recently heard from one gal who said it left a hazy film on her Pyrex.  She thinks it might have been because she used extra strength cleaner.  Regardless, it's good to know!  If you're going to try this method, only use it on a piece that's far gone - as a last resort - just in case.

How to Clean Baked on Grease and Grime from Vintage Pyrex Bake Ware with Oven Cleaner
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10 comments

  1. I love the flamingo...possibly more than turquoise! And amazing tip about the baked on grime. I might try that on my stoneware, which is looking dirty

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    1. The flamingo is so underrated and I don't know why! It's even older than the turquoise and pink. If you like it, you're in luck. While a turquoise pie plate has sold for nearly $100 on Ebay, I saw a flamingo one linger for $9.99! It's a really rich colour, I think it's quite pretty.

      Let me know how the oven cleaner works. Just be warned that it's not safe for all surfaces - I felt confident that that it would work on Pyrex because others had tried it. If you have something really trashed (or can pick up a similar piece for a buck, thrifting), test on it first.

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  2. I think the flamingo is beautiful, too.

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    1. I bought a book on pyrex patterns and when I can't sleep I drool over the colours and patterns. I like these solid ones. There's a pretty lime green too. Must have been so colourful in shops in the 1950s...

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  3. Great color. Love the cleaning tip. Thank you

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  4. I have these little white dishes with brown flowers I got from my mom when I moved out on my own and just realized they are Pyrex but it says Py-o-rex on the bottom. Do you know anything about that? We always used them for pudding growing up, but they kinda look like mini casserole dishes. About 5 inches round in diameter, straight sides with a handle on each side.

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    1. Sorry, don't know! Hmmmmm, if you post a photo to IG and tag #pyrexloven or #vintagepyrex you'll find some answers I'm sure. Lots of knowledgable people there. Meanwhile I'll check my book...

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  5. You are right about the quality of Canadian Pyrex. I can tell it the moment I pick it up because the paint finish feels grainy. Also all my Canadian pieces have a distinct rim edge where the US pieces are nicely rounded.

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    1. Isn't that so interesting? It's weird that Canadians couldn't produce Pyrex the same...

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