How to clean up maple syrup  MAY 12 2005

Since my post about the maple syrup spill, my inbox has been buzzing with a number of different techniques that people have sent in for cleaning up maple syrup. As a service to future Google searchers or those of you that may have just spilled maple syrup all over the place, here are several of those techniques:

  • if you spill syrup, or drop a raw egg, the trick is to pour a bunch of salt all over the spill (kosher or table, whatever you have), then leave it for a minute or so. the salt will soak up most of spill, keep it from spreading and make it much more manageable for cleanup.
  • pour a bag of flour onto it and walk away for a while. come back with the dustpan and a spatula, scoop up the non-liquid mixture, and all you have left is a small sticky patch. buff to a shine
  • Freeze it, and then you can break it off. Alternately (and easier, heh), you can take a wet dish cloth, put it on the syrup and use an iron on the dish towel (the maple effectively gets "sucked" right up).
  • before you grab the broom (uh, you didn't really sweep syrup into a dustpan, did you?) find two hard, flat items (i.e. a dough scraper and a spatula) and put them at opposite 45 degree angles to your catastrophe, sweeping together until they are flush. voila, syrup squeegee. also works as a party trick with two cardboard coasters when someone spills honey mustard dressing on the table.
  • Place a large piece of wax paper directly on top of the puddle of syrup so you get a good stick. With a spatula or paint scraper or whatever you've got handy, begin to flip the wax paper over by spooning the syrup onto it. Pretty soon you will have transfered all the syrup onto the wax paper and you can dispose of it quickly *and* easily. (You might even be able to use a paper grocery bag or newspaper for this.)
  • Liquid nitrogen, and a chisel. Quickness depends on wether you keep liquid nitrogen around. Easy depends on how brittle the floor is. Fun however is pretty much assured. Or at least as much fun as cleaning ever gets.
  • For future reference, pour some diet coke on it - the carbonation cuts right through and is a great cleaning aid (make sure you're getting the liquid carbed part and not the fizzy, useless head). In all seriousness, a pour from a can yields less fizz than from a bottle.
  • the easiest way to clean up syrup (or anything sticky, for that matter) is to freeze it. take out some ice cube trays, or drop a bunch of cubes into a metal container along the lines of an 8x8 cake pan, then cover the pan with a dish towel to insulate. come back in an hour, and the syrup, while not frozen, should be much more manageable.
  • Your mention of the sticky maple syrup kind of taking over reminded me of "Curious George gets a Medal" which I've been reading to kids here lately. Trying to pen a letter, George spills ink on the floor and in the process of trying to clean it up ends up with a room full of suds. Next time you find yourself in the situation be sure to borrow the pump from the farmer down the street (and of course you'll need a cow to help you pull it home).

Thanks to Sarah, Tim, Jeremy, Eric, Josh, Yi, Rachel, Samuel, and Jack for sending in their tips. Who knew that my readers knew so much about cleaning up spilled maple syrup?

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