How to Clean a Burnt Pot: Easy Methods for Pots and Pans

Cleaning a burnt pan may seem like a challenge, but these DIY strategies are simple and effective. Each uses things you probably already have on hand, like boiling water, white vinegar, dishwasher detergent, baking soda, and a paper towel. Read on to find the best solution for your burnt cookware.

Method 1: boiling water

This cleaning technique consists of going back to the origin of the problem: the stove. First fill the pan with a few inches of water or just enough to cover the charred area. Bring the water to a boil and let it run for 5 to 7 minutes.

Then, remove the pan from the stove and set it aside to cool. Once the water has returned to room temperature, pour it out. If necessary, use a plastic spatula or wooden spoon to carefully scrape up any large, burnt, and now mushy pieces into the trash can.

Finally, sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of baking soda into the damp pan and scrub away any remaining stains with a sponge or scouring pad suitable for cookware. You should find that the black residue comes off much easier, especially with the powerful, abrasive combination of baking soda paste and a little effort.

Method 2: Vinegar


If the boiling water strategy described above only yielded some results, use more firepower, i.e. white vinegar. Pour equal parts water and vinegar into the pan, just enough to completely cover the charred area. Again, boil for about 5 minutes.

Along with the heat, the acidity of the vinegar will help loosen tough stains left behind by burnt-on foods. As it boils, you may even see blackened debris coming out of the bottom and sides of the pan. Repeat the steps of soaking the pan while the liquid cools, draining it, and scrubbing the burnt-on grime with a sponge suitable for the cookware you are cleaning.

Method 3: Vinegar and Baking Soda


In the most extreme cases, try this alternate method: fill the pot with enough vinegar to cover the charred area (vinegar is not diluted with water here), then bring to a boil. Lower the heat a bit and simmer on the stove for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the vinegar to cool slightly.

Next, add about 2 tablespoons of baking soda to the pan. Mixing these two ingredients will cause a bubbly reaction. (Helpful tip: You can do this part in the sink to minimize potential damage.) Once it has stopped bubbling, discard the liquid.

Then scrub the pan with a dish brush or scrubber appropriate for the type of cookware being used. If necessary, add a little more baking soda and work until the stain is completely gone.

Method 4: Boil lemons


Another popular method to remove stuck-on residue from cookware is to boil water and lemon. Like the acetic acid in white vinegar, the citric acid in lemons helps break down burnt-on food stains, but without the pungent odor. Instead, the lemon method cleans up a burnt pan and adds a refreshing citrus scent to your kitchen. It’s a win-win! That is how:

First, cut about two lemons into quarters or thick slices and place them in the bottom of the pan. Then add enough water to cover the entire burned area and bring everything to a boil on the stove. You will see burnt food particles flake off the bottom of the pan as the lemon floats.

After about 5 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and let it soak while the water cools to room temperature. Discard the water and lemon pieces, then lightly scrub away any remaining dirt with a soft sponge.

Method 5: Dishwasher Detergent


Dishwasher detergent is another effective solution to restore burnt cookware. Start by adding one dishwasher tablet or one tablespoon of powdered dishwasher detergent or one teaspoon of liquid dish soap to the pan. Then fill it with a few inches of hot tap water and let it soak for at least 30 minutes.

Then, using a plastic spatula or wooden spoon, gently scrape the bottom of the pan to see if any charred bits of food flake off the surface easily. If so, pour out the soapy water and scrub away the remaining residue. If not, increase the speed by simmering the detergent-water mixture on the stove for about 10 minutes.

After removing the pan from the heat and allowing it to soak while it cools, discard the liquid and scrub away any remaining grime (it’s important to note that the type of detergent you use can affect the success of this method).

Method 6: Aluminum Foil


The aluminum foil method of cleaning a burnt pan is effective and inexpensive, but requires a bit more effort than the techniques mentioned above. It also comes with an important caveat: Don’t use the foil method on nonstick pans, as it can scratch the coating.

Start by adding enough hot water to the pot to cover the charred area. (It’s also good to add a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and let it soak for at least 30 minutes.) Next, crumple a small sheet of aluminum foil into a ball. Use the ball of abrasive aluminum foil to scrub the pan until any burnt-on food residue is removed. Once you’re done, throw the makeshift metal scrubber in the recycle bin.

Method 7: dry leaf


Did you know that the conditioning properties of most dryer sheets also help loosen charred residue from your pots and pans? It’s true ! That is how:

Fill the dirty saucepan with a few inches of hot water and dip a drying sheet into it. Let the mixture soak for at least an hour or overnight, then throw the sheet in the trash and drain the water.

Use a sponge to remove any food debris, and be sure to thoroughly clean the pan with your regular dishwashing method to remove any conditioning residue left behind by the dryer sheet.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Clean a Burnt Pan


How do you clean a burnt stainless steel pan?

There are many ways to clean a burnt stainless steel pan, the most effective being the use of warm or boiling water and cleaning products such as white vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, and dish soap. However, tricks using common household items like aluminum foil and dryer sheets can also work wonders on burnt cookware.

Can a burnt pan be saved?

Yes, it is possible to salvage a burnt pan, but it can take a bit of effort. The DIY hacks described above are very simple and use tools and materials that you probably already have on hand in your pantry.

How to clean a burnt pot with baking soda?

Baking soda is an essential ingredient for cleaning a burnt pan. The best method is to first boil the vinegar for about 5 minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat and add about 2 tablespoons of baking soda. The mixture will bubble up and loosen any stubborn charred bits from the bottom of the pan. When done bubbling, discard the liquid and wash the pan as usual with dish soap, water, and a soft scrub brush.

final thoughts

Gourmet chefs and home cooks burn their cookware from time to time. But now you know not to throw away burnt pans, because there are several easy ways to clean them like new. Although it may seem impossible at first, stubborn burns can be removed, and often without much effort on your part. You just need to know what household items you need to gather and how to use them precisely. In no time, your burnt cookware will look shiny and clean again!

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