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10 Ways to Clean a Burnt Pan in Less Time

Reviewed by Professional Cleaner Jennifer L. Betts
Cleaning burnt pan

Looking for quick ways to save a pan after it gets scorched? There are several different approaches to cleaning a burnt pan that don't take a ton of time. One of these ten options is sure to work for you!

Baking Soda Method for Nonstick or Ceramic Pans

If the pan you need to clean is a nonstick one, this technique is a good one to use because it's not abrasive.

Supplies

You'll need to gather:

  • Baking Soda
  • Water

Step-By-Step Instructions

Follow these steps:

  1. Depending on the size of the pan, sprinkle in 1/4 - 1/2 cup of baking soda.
  2. Add water so that there is about 3 inches of water in the pan.
  3. Place the pan on a stove burner and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium/low and allow to simmer for ten minutes.
  5. Turn off burner and remove from heat.
  6. Allow to cool.
  7. Dump baking soda and water mixture.
  8. Wash following your normal procedure.

Note: This method may also work on other types of pans with relatively minor burns. However, the other techniques described here may work better for other types of pans, especially those with a lot of burn residue.

Using a Baking Soda Paste to Scrub a Burnt Pan

This method will help remove burnt food from the cooking surface, as well as the outside bottom of a pan. It works particularly well with greasy food.

Supplies

Gather these supplies:

  • Baking Soda
  • Water
  • Scouring pad

Directions

Once the pan has cooled, do the following.

  • Put about 1/4 cup of baking soda in a bowl. (If the burnt pan is a large one, you may need more.)
  • Stir in a teaspoon of water, adding additional drops as needed until a paste forms.
  • Spread the baking soda paste across the burnt surface.
  • With the scouring pad, use circular motions to scrub away the burnt residue.
  • Rinse the pan and allow to dry.

If there is still burnt on residue stuck to the pan, repeat or try a different method

Cleaning a Burnt Pan With Vinegar and Baking Soda

If baking soda alone won't do the trick, try adding a step that involves vinegar. This technique should be used only with pans that can be safely boiled on the stove.

Supplies

You'll need to gather:

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Baking Soda
  • Scouring pad
Baking soda to remove burnt pan

Step-By-Step Instructions

Follow these steps:

  1. Make a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. (The amount you need depends on the size of your pan; half cup of each is a good starting point).
  2. Pour the vinegar and water mixture in the pan, to a depth of about half an inch.
  3. Place the burnt pan on a stove eye and heat the vinegar and water solution until it boils.
  4. Boil for 60 seconds.
  5. Turn off stove burner.
  6. Dump the vinegar and water solution into the sink to drain.
  7. Sit the pan down somewhere other than the hot stove eye, such as elsewhere on the stove, in the sink, or on a trivet.
  8. Sprinkle baking soda in a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. (Use one to two tablespoons depending on pan size.)
  9. Use the scouring pad to scrub away the scorch marks.
  10. Rinse the pan and allow to dry.

Using Lemon to Clean Burnt Cookware

If you don't like the idea of the smell created by boiling vinegar and water together, try cleaning your stove-safe pan by boiling lemons instead.

Supplies

You'll need to gather:

  • One or two lemons (depending on the size of the pan)
  • Water
  • Scrubbing brush

Step-By-Step Instructions

Follow these steps:

  1. Cut the lemon(s) into quarters (or slightly smaller pieces if you prefer).
  2. Add a few inches of water to the pan.
  3. Bring to a full boil.
  4. Remove pan from heat and turn off burner.
  5. Let the water cool with the lemons still in it.
  6. Dump the water.
  7. Use a kitchen scrubbing brush to remove the burnt gook.
  8. Wash using your ordinary procedure, then allow to dry.

Cleaning Burnt Cookware With Boiling Salt Water

Salt is another common household item that can be used to clean burnt pans. This method should be used only with pans that are safe for stovetop cooking.

Supplies

You'll need to gather:

  • Salt
  • Water
  • Scrubbing brush (long handle)

Step-By-Step Instructions

Follow these steps:

  1. Clean the pan as best as you can.
  2. Fill it with warm water and a few spoonfuls of salt. You can use regular table salt for this.
  3. Allow to soak for about five minutes.
  4. Place the pan of salt water on the stove and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to medium high and continue boiling for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and pour out most of the salt water. Leave behind about an inch of water.
  7. Add a tablespoon of salt to the remaining water.
  8. Use a long-handled scrubbing brush to give the pan a salt scrub.
  9. Dump the rest of the salt water.
  10. Washing using your standard procedure.

Cleaning a Scorched Pan With a Dryer Sheet

If you have dryer sheets in your laundry room, this is a super-simple cleaning technique to use on a burnt cookware.

Supplies

You'll need to gather:

  • Dryer sheet (such as Bounce)
  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • Scrubbing brush

Step-By-Step Instructions

Follow this procedure:

  1. Once the pan has cooled, fill it with water and dish soap, swirling gently to combine.
  2. Place a dryer sheet in the soap and water solution.
  3. Allow to soak for 60 to 90 minutes.
  4. Remove the dryer sheet and dump the soapy water.
  5. Wash using your ordinary procedure.

Using Fabric Softener to Clean a Burnt Pan

Dryer sheets aren't the only laundry room item that can come in handy when cleaning a burnt pan. You can also use fabric softener.

Supplies

For this method, you'll need:

  • Fabric softener (liquid or a sheet)
  • Water
  • Scouring sponge

Step-By-Step Instructions

Follow this procedure:

  1. Fill the pan halfway up with water.
  2. Add the fabric softener (one sheet or one tablespoon of fabric softener).
  3. Allow to soak for a few hours.
  4. Scrub with a scouring sponge.
  5. Dump the water and fabric softener mixture.
  6. Wash using your ordinary procedure.

Scouring a Burnt Pan With Cream of Tartar

For an option that doesn't require boiling, consider cleaning your scorched pan with a paste made of cream of tartar and vinegar.

Supplies

Gather these supplies:

  • Cream of tartar
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Scouring pad or sponge
scrubbing a dirty metal surface

Directions

Once the pan has cooled, do the following.

  1. Put about 1/4 of a cup of cream of tartar in a container. (If the burnt pan is a large one, you may need more.)
  2. Stir in a teaspoon of white vinegar, adding additional drops as needed until a paste forms.
  3. Spread the cream of tartar/vinegar paste across the bottom of the pan.
  4. Scrub the burnt areas with the scouring pad or sponge, using circular motions.
  5. Rinse the pan and allow to dry.

Using Ketchup to Clean Burnt Pans

For this method, you'll need to raid the fridge for a bottle of ketchup! This option works great with glass baking pans and stainless cookware.

Supplies

Gather these supplies:

  • Ketchup
  • Scouring pad or sponge

Directions

Once the pan has cooled, do the following.

  • Cover the burned bits of food with ketchup.
  • Let sit for a few hours or overnight.
  • Scrub with your scouring pad.
  • Rinse.
  • Wash using your standard procedure.

Using Powdered Dishwasher Detergent on Burnt Pans

Powdered dishwasher detergent is a good option for scrubbing burnt on food from cookware.

Supplies

Gather these supplies:

  • Powdered dishwasher detergent
  • Water
  • Scouring pad

Directions

Follow these steps:

  1. Sprinkle powdered dishwasher detergent across the bottom of the pan, being sure to coat all of the areas with burnt buildup.
  2. Fill the pan with hot water.
  3. Allow to soak for a few hours.
  4. When the water cools, use the scouring pan to scrub it clean.
  5. Repeat as needed.
  6. Once the build-up is gone, wash using your usual procedure.

Choosing the Best Method for Cleaning Burnt Pans

There is definitely more than one way to clean a burnt pan! Select a method that is appropriate for the cleaning task you are facing. Consider the type of pan you have, how bad the burn is, and what supplies you already have on hand. Since so many everyday items can be used for this cleaning task, chances are you won't have to buy a thing to restore your pans to the same condition they were in before the burn.

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10 Ways to Clean a Burnt Pan in Less Time