Stubborn Kitchen Spots
August 22, 2004 7:03 PM   Subscribe

How the #^$& do you get those rubbery little orange dots off kitchen surfaces?? Presumably they started life as oil splatters, then mutated into a permanently bonded new substance that is sort of like plastic-encased goo. Degreasers haven't any effect. Same for Goo Gone, rubbing alcohol, or ammonia. Scrubbing powders do have some effect, but that's just to turn the combo into a brown tarry mess that retains the original goo's miraculous removal-resistant properties.
posted by nakedcodemonkey to Food & Drink (21 answers total)
i use steel wool.
posted by amberglow at 7:31 PM on August 22, 2004

Organic solvents work well for this, but the rubbing alcohol (probably 70% isopropanol in water) was probably just too dilute. If you can get a higher %age alcohol, that might do the trick. Mineral spirits (aka paint thinner) and a cotton cloth followed by a rubbing alcohol cleanup is another option. Before trying the stronger stuff, you might test clean a corner of the surface to make sure it's resistant to the solvent.
posted by shoos at 7:32 PM on August 22, 2004

SoftScrub's worked well enough for me.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:42 PM on August 22, 2004

Use some orange peel oil. Let it sit for a while then scrub lightly. No lipid based stain can standup to it.
posted by Fupped Duck at 8:30 PM on August 22, 2004

what fupped duck said: citrasolv or its equivalent.

and this is an ounce of prevention=pound of cure kind of situation.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 8:41 PM on August 22, 2004

Response by poster: Goo Gone is an orange oil solvent too, isn't it? That was a no go. Usually GG followed by alcohol cleanup gets rid of just about anything sticky, but sadly not in this case. Thanks and keep the good ideas coming, folks. Hopefully at least one of these will finally pry loose the stubborn little buggers. (Zed Lopez, agreed but tell it to the tenant who left the fossilized orange gunk behind in the first place. Or maybe that was 20 tenants ago, for all I know.)
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:00 PM on August 22, 2004

Simple green.

And maybe bleach.
posted by bingo at 9:23 PM on August 22, 2004

Dow Scrubbing Bubbles and one of those nonstick-safe scrubber sponges from 3M works like a charm on removing almost anything.
posted by Danelope at 9:47 PM on August 22, 2004

If the surface will stand it, try oven cleaner (the low-temp kind). Definitely not green, though.
posted by skyscraper at 11:03 PM on August 22, 2004

Depending on the surface, a razor blade can sometimes work to scrape away the bulk of the solidified crap. It should then be relatively easy to scrub away the rest with a decent solvent.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:44 PM on August 22, 2004

Response by poster: No dice on the scrubbing bubbles and simple green either. Bleach? Ha hah, they laugh at bleach! (yes, the potent mix of chemicals in the air at this point are making me slightly goofy...) Oven cleaner, hmm. Interesting. I doubt it'd be safe on paint or food prep surfaces, but maybe it can do the trick on the appliances. The walls seem to be the hardest challenge since scrubbing makes the paint scuff and peel rather badly (someone forgot to use primer *sigh*), while some of these solvents could do worse to it. Is the ultra-concentrated alcohol safe on paint, and if so where does one acquire such stuff?
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:47 PM on August 22, 2004

Best answer: The alcohol shouldn't be a problem for paint, but test it first before trying it to be sure. You can find a bottle of 99% isopropyl alcohol for 2-3 dollars at drug stores. Denatured alcohol (ie, ethanol plus a small amount of another solvent to make it non-drinkable) can be purchased for cheap at hardware stores. The denatured alcohol is the more potent of the two. It cuts right through baked-on oil on stovetops.
posted by shoos at 12:41 AM on August 23, 2004

Ethanol, btw, is also great for getting sap drops off of your car's paint. It'll take off car wax too, so don't do it right after you wax.
posted by shoos at 12:47 AM on August 23, 2004

Simple green is the feeblest stuff I ever used, and will stain white paint. I hate it. The only thing it's good for is cleaning up after oil spills on the garage floor.

I will third, fourth, and fifth the reccomendation to use an orange-based solvent. (And not wussy grocery-store stuff, go to Home Depot and get the stuff they have in the industrial-strength cleaning aisle.)
posted by SpecialK at 1:23 AM on August 23, 2004

Hmm. I use something great for this - a liquidy-gel-type cleaner from Ajax, but I don't know what the non-Greek version is. It's called "Azax Kloron" here (no "j" in Greek), and you can see it on this page; click the third link in the main box to see what it looks like. This is my wonder-cleaner.

So, I'm thinking that maybe this Ajax product might do the job. It's evidentally used by professional cleaning companies.
posted by taz at 4:45 AM on August 23, 2004

Concentrated Simple Green, UNDILUTED (or at least diluted one-to-one with water, rather than one-to-five as they suggest), is the best kitchen and general goo-be-gone cleaner I've ever used -- but you have to let it sit on the gunk for several minutes.
posted by occhiblu at 6:02 AM on August 23, 2004

Best answer: Citrisolve, Goo-gone, Simple Green are all the same stuff: D-limonene. It's extracted from citrus peels. If one doesn't work, it's unlikely any of the others will.

Oven cleaner will probably work, but it might damage your counter too. Have you tried a weaker lye-based cleaner like Fantastik? Let it soak for a bit before wiping off.

Alcohols might work, if given time to soak. They can also damage countertops, so use with care. Make sure you work with good ventilation.

Bleach will not touch fats, as you discovered. Ammonia-based cleaners (Windex, etc...) also will not work very well.

Two suggestions:

Barkeepers' Friend is a mild abrasive---I've yet to find a countertop that it couldn't clean with a bit of effort. It can damage plastic surfaces though, just like any clenser. Because it's an abrasive, it can even take out soaked-in stains.

Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is also an excellent cleaner of last resort. You can find it in any hardware store in the paint section. It's damaging to skin, so wear gloves, but there's no fumes. After a good rinse with water, everything should be fine. TSP is the acid used in Coke, so you need not worry about residues. It's just the concentrated form which is dangerous.
posted by bonehead at 6:28 AM on August 23, 2004 [1 favorite]

Goof Off is way better than Goo Gone.
posted by tomierna at 6:57 AM on August 23, 2004

Response by poster: Bonehead, thanks for the explanations and caveats. Barkeepers Friend was that one substance that did have any effect: tar conversion. So yeah, it does unwedge but then brown gummy stuff gets wedged into every crack and crevice. Gross.

TSP! Hey, yeah, I've got that around here somewhere. Good idea.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:40 AM on August 23, 2004

Dawn Power Dissolver. Use a Q-Tip for precise application. Wait 20 minutes and use a nylon scrub sponge.
posted by Feisty at 8:02 PM on August 23, 2004

Response by poster: If anyone's curious, scrubbing with a strong TSP solution is what finally worked, at least on the appliances and tile. The paint unfortunately peels when even lightly scrubbed (because someone skipped the primer step; the TSP itself seems to be harmless). There are a few suggestions left to test, so hopefully one of the no-scrub options can magically wipe out the dots from the paint too.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:34 AM on August 24, 2004

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