How to Make the Most Frustrating Kitchen Messes Disappear

Fast fixes for tough spills. 

Cleaning: It's the worst part of cooking, but someone's got to do it. In this week's episode of "Things Cooks Know," hosts and Real Simple editors Sarah Humphreys and Sarah Karnasiewicz share quick and efficient methods for cleaning the most disgusting, sticky, time-consuming messes.

1. Cast-iron skillet: You don’t want to take off the skillet's built-up seasoning (called a patina) when you're cleaning, so avoid using anything too abrasive. Most of the cleaning can be done with warm water, a soft sponge, and a towel. Use a bit of cooking oil when you wipe out the skillet, then set it over a low flame to let it dry off—it will rust if you set it in the dish rack while it's wet.

2. Flour on the counter: Brush the dry flour off with a broom (or sweep it up with your hand), and then use a cool, damp cloth to clean whatever is left. Avoid attacking any piles of flour with water—the flour will become gummy and stick to the counter.

3. Maple syrup spills: While the syrup is still liquid, pour some flour (or salt) onto the spill. The flour will turn the syrup into a paste (as opposed to a spreading puddle), which you can then scoop up with a spatula or a butter knife.

4. Stained plastic containers: If it's a sunny day, open the containers and put them outside—the sun will bleach some of the stains away. Any remaining residue will come off with lemon juice or baking soda, which cuts through more stubborn spots (like tomato juice stains).

5. Milk scum: If milk has boiled over onto the stovetop, scrub it with a warm cloth while it’s still damp. If you're cleaning the scum out of a pot, fill the pot with warm water and add a little baking soda. Bring it to a simmer until the milk loosens.

6. Stove-top splatters: Combine baking soda and water to make a paste, and spread the paste onto the residue. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe it away with a damp towel.

7. Cooked-on egg: Whether it's in the pan or on your plate, you'll want to soak the egg in warm water to loosen it. If it's in a skillet, add some water to the skillet and put it back on the stove for a minute. The heating of the pan will loosen the egg.

8. Grated cheese: To prevent soft cheese from sticking to every nook and cranny of the grater, spray cooking spray on the grater before you start.

9. Grease on walls: Look for an all-purpose spray cleaner that says 'de-greaser' on it. The spray will work best on glossy or semi-gloss paint (a matte finish is a bit trickier to clean off).

10. Baking sheets: The best trick for cleaning off baked-on cookie is to put your baking sheet in the sink with a dryer sheet. Fill the sink with warm water, and leave the baking sheet to soak overnight. The next morning, wipe it down with a sponge.

For more tips, listen to the full episode below. Don't forget to subscribe and review on iTunes!