Once again, we have to stress that you follow our procedures at YOUR OWN risk and that the usual applies - you aren’t going to hold us accountable for any damage to your Pyrex goodies…
Like the majority of Pyrex collectors, we often come across pieces that have more than their fair share of wear (hey, that rhymes) on them. Many times, a simple wash with soapy water does wonders. However, more than once we have been stymied by what we call the Pyrex Crevice problem. Dirt, baked on food, rust, or other gunk gets stuck inside the fine crevices, seams or along fine raised edges on Pyrex pieces. Because the crevices are so fine, it’s difficult to get a sponge to clean inside there. Even Magic Eraser sometimes fails.
Now, we are talking about crevices, lines and seams that were made in the manufacturing process and NOT cracks or deep scratches from use. This is especially true with older items where the process was not always perfect. Although the most common hard-to-reach crevices are often on the edges of casserole lids, near handles, and in the spaces between letters stamped on the bottoms, they can appear anywhere - precisely because the manufacturing process is not perfect.
So, you might be saying why not dunk the whole item in cleaner? Well, this isn’t always a good option for pieces that have a lot of patterns or color on them. Sometimes it can help loosen the stuff in the cracks by soaking the whole piece in soap water, but you want to avoid any long term soaking with stronger stuff.
Enter the simple wooden toothpick. We’ve found this inexpensive item can be handy to have around when cleaning Pyrex. Here’s an example of a Horizon Blue Casserole dish lid with some junk inside the seam on the rim.
The idea is simple enough: make sure the surface is a bit damp. Hold the toothpick carefully at an angle against the seam where the dirt is and then gently use the tip to poke out the dirt. Rotating the toothpick every so often seems to help a lot too, and you may need to use a slight bit of force.
One word of caution: do NOT use metal toothpicks! The wooden toothpick is rather nice actually, because it seems to deform slightly under pressure when pressed up into the crevice. You want toothpicks with “extra sharp” tips, and not those blunt safety ones. Keep an eye on these toothpicks, though, if you have kids or pets. It’s a bit dangerous to press on the toothpick with a lot of force, so you can break it in half so that one side is dull. You may also want to use a towel or gloves to grasp the item so that you don’t slip.
Because the toothpick will eventually dull, you may have to change it out once in awhile. Below is a picture of the above item we cleaned with about 2 toothpicks and nothing more.
So, why would you use this method instead of spraying out the crud with something? Again, this is sometimes good for when you have dirt in crevices that is near colored finish that you’re afraid of spraying or soak with harsher cleaners. As far as we can tell in experiments, the wooden toothpick does not seem to harm the glass itself… it’s wood after all. No need to go scratching the surface of your item with the toothpick on purpose though! The nice thing is that you have a lot of control over what surface is being worked on.
Another thing we have found the toothpick very helpful is for getting gunk out of the “Pyrex” mark and other letters stamped on the bottom of the item. (The “P” and “R” are particularly problematic!) You use the same method, sort of scratch out the dirt with the toothpick. You can also try pre soaking the area with some soapy water first. This seems to work pretty well for us.
Many Pyrex fans have also recommended using wooden skewers as well as toothpicks in the same manner. This can sometimes be better because they break less; however, the tips in general are not as sharp as toothpicks so they sometimes can’t get into the smaller crevices.