How to Clean A Burnt Pot With No Hard Scrubbing

Accidentally scorch your nonstick pan or stainless steel stockpot? There's no need to worry; even the most experienced chef accidentally burns their pots and pans from time to time.

After forgetting something that's bubbling away on the stovetop or baking in the oven for too long, you're left with burnt food and glued-on grime that no dishwasher can defeat. While you could go to town with a scorched pot with a scouring pad, there are many ways to save a burnt pot that doesn't require nearly as much effort.

To save you the elbow grease, we're offering step-by-step instructions on how to clean a burnt pot.

Can a burnt pan be saved?

Yes! With the right cleaning methods, tools, and scrubbing, you can save a burnt pan and remove the burnt area. The method used to clean the burned-on food varies depending on the type of pot or pan and the material used to make it.

The How to Clean A Burnt Pot and Pan- With Step By Step instructions

Regardless of which cleaning method you choose, start by removing as much charred food as possible from the bottom of the pan. To avoid damaging your cookware, be sure to use cleaning products and tools that are compatible with the material of the pan. When in doubt, stick with a non-stick-safe scrub brush, durable sponge, and a plastic spatula.

Boiling Water

Best Way to Clean Burnt Non Stick Pans

It's amazing what a little boiling water can do. Boiling your burnt pan to death is undoubtedly the easiest method for removing baked-on food. Plus, the boiling water method works particularly well for nonstick pans that can't be scrubbed with scouring pads or used with metal utensils.

After loosening as much of the burnt-on food as possible with a spatula or wood spoon:

  1. Fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil on the stove.
  2. If your pan still has some stubborn stuck-on bits after a few minutes, try adding a small squeeze of dish soap.
  3. Allow the pan to cool to a safe temperature before you try to scrub off any remaining food particles.

Long Pot Soak with Dishwashing Liquid

Best Way to Clean a Moderately Dirty Pot

Hate scrubbing? Let time do the work for you by leaving the burnt pot or grimy glass bakeware to soak overnight in the sink. While this isn't the best method for serious messes, it'll do just fine for most cooking messes.

Like always, scrape off any leftover debris and discard it before you begin. Next, place the pan in the sink and fill it with hot water and a squirt of dishwashing liquid. Leave the burnt pot in soapy water overnight and scrub away any remaining gunk in the morning.

Salt

Best Way to Clean a Burnt Cast Iron Pan

Unlike other nonstick or stainless steel pans, a cast iron pan can't be left to soak in water. To keep the pan from rusting, you'll need to find other methods for cleaning off burnt food, such as scrubbing it with salt.

First, start by scraping off as much food as possible. While the pan is still warm, sprinkle a generous layer of salt over the entire bottom of the pan and leave the pan to cool completely. Then, scrape the salt and remaining burnt food from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon or plastic spatula and a little elbow grease.

Once you're finished, wash the pan with hot water and a few drops of dish soap to remove any remaining residue. Rinse thoroughly and dry immediately to prevent rust. You'll also want to re-season the pan with one or two tablespoons of vegetable oil before using it again.

Baking Soda Paste

Best for Stain Removal

Even after soaking and intense scrubbing, some pans can be left with unsightly stains. This happens most often with tomato-based liquids like spaghetti sauce or chili.

Baking soda is non-abrasive, neutralizes odors, and loosens up stubborn bits, making it one of the best ways to clean a burnt pot. Plus, it's a great way to use up old baking soda containers lurking in the back of your refrigerator or pantry.

To clean your burned pot with baking soda:

  1. Cover the bottom of the pot with a thick layer of baking soda.
  2. Add a small amount of warm water to create a thick paste.
  3. Let the pan sit for several hours or overnight before scrubbing off any remaining bits with a nylon scrub brush and rinsing off the baking soda mixture.

Because baking soda won't react to most materials, the paste can also be used to remove burnt food from cookie sheets, roasting pans, and enamel-coated cast iron.

Vinegar Method

Best Cleaning Method for Burnt Aluminum Pans And Burnt Stainless Steel Pot

If plain water alone didn't do the trick, try boiling a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar for five to ten minutes before scrubbing. You can use either white vinegar or lemon juice. The acidity in either ingredient helps lift stubborn grime and eliminate unsightly stains on your cookware.

For serious stuck-on messes, leave the boiled vinegar to cool to a workable warm water temperature. Then, pour in 2 tablespoons of baking soda and leave it to fizz for up to an hour before discarding the pan's contents and scrubbing away any debris that's left. The fizzing reaction can get a bit messy, so it's best to do it in the sink instead of on the stovetop.

Boiled Lemons

Best for Fast Clean-Up

Don't have time to soak your scorched pan? Try boiling a pot full of water with a few lemon slices or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. The citric acid in lemon juice helps break down burnt food without any of the toxic chemicals or harsh smells of other cleaning products. Plus, it'll leave your kitchen smelling great!

After leaving the pan to boil for five to ten minutes, scrub off any remaining particles with a sponge and a bit of dish detergent. Still some remaining grime? Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with a few tablespoons of baking soda to create an abrasive paste.

Dryer Sheet or Scouring Pad

Best for Stubborn, Stuck-on Debris

Sometimes a plain sponge or scrub brush just doesn't cut it. For a little more cleaning power, scrub the pan with a dryer sheet or scouring pad instead. These cleaning techniques are particularly good at getting off larger particles of debris that just won't budge.

For starters, try grabbing a dryer sheet from your laundry room. The conditioning ingredients in most store-bought dryer sheets will help to loosen up the burned bits that most sponges leave behind. Be sure to clean the pan thoroughly afterward to remove any residual conditioners and chemicals left behind from the dryer sheets.

Or stick with a classic scouring pad. The small metal or plastic scourer was designed specifically for removing baked-on gunk and powering away tough messes. But remember, the abrasive cleaner should not be used for cleaning a burnt non stick pan if it's made of metal. Scratching the surface of the pan can leave permanent damage or cause the coating to peel off.

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