Want to know how to clean a burnt pot or pan with little to no difficulty? Here are several methods that are guaranteed to get the job done.
Maybe you’re not the most gifted chef, or maybe your non-stick pots and pans just aren’t as non-stick as they used to be: No matter how it happened, a burnt pot or pan should always be cleaned before it’s used again. Luckily there are many different ways to erase scorch marks or remove burnt-on food, so you may not even have to make a trip to the store to get the job done.
Baking Soda + Vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar are two of the most versatile household items, and the way they can be used to clean burnt cookware further proves this point. Start by filling your burnt pot up with equal parts water and vinegar. Bring that to a boil, then add two tablespoons of baking soda. Turn the heat off and let everything cool and soak for 15-20 minutes. Finally, dump the vinegar/water/baking soda mixture down the drain and scrub everything down with a sponge or scouring pad.
If there are any tough spots left over, mix a small amount of baking soda with a similarly small amount of water until a paste forms, then let this paste sit on the remaining scorch marks or burnt-on food for about five minutes. After the wait is over, give the pot another scrubbing and you should be good to go!
This method is going to look a bit different depending on which dishwasher pods you use because some brands can be scrubbed directly against the burnt pot with some warm water while others will need to be boiled before they’ll make the pot any easier to scrub clean. Start by putting a small amount of warm water into the pot, then using your hands to rub the pod against the pot for several minutes. The pod should slowly dissolve thanks to the warm water and the scrubbing, but if it doesn’t you can add some more water, boil it, and then scrub the pot down with the dishwasher pod-infused water (after said water has cooled down of course).
This is another method that will likely save you a trip to the store, as aluminum foil can be found in almost every household. Start by rinsing your pot in warm water, then sprinkle baking soda all over the said pot. Add a small amount of warm water into the pot and mix it with the baking soda until a paste begins to form. Make a crumpled-up ball out of the aluminum foil, and then use it to scrub the pot until it’s clean!
While you might be less likely to have lemons on hand, this is a great option if you’re looking for a natural, chemical-free clean. Start by cutting one to two lemons into fourths, then boil the lemon pieces with some water in your burnt pot. After 5-10 minutes you should begin seeing various bits of burnt-on food rising to the surface. This is your sign to throw away the lemon pieces, drain the water, and start scrubbing everything down with warm water and a sponge, brush, or pad of your choice.
Other Miscellaneous Methods
These are techniques with somewhat mixed reviews, but they still might be worth a try for convenience’s sake.
A Dryer Sheet
Fill your pot up with warm water and a squirt of dish soap, then let one dryer sheet soak in this solution for about an hour. Once you’ve waited long enough, throw away the sheet and dump out the water, and the crusty and scorched areas should be easier to scrub clean.
Club Soda or Alka-Seltzer
For this method, barely cover the bottom of the pot in water and heat it up on the stove until it begins to boil. Dump a liberal amount of the club soda or Alka-Seltzer into the pot, then turn the stove off after a minute or two. Once everything has completely cooled down the pot should be easier to clean with your scrubber of choice.
Ketchup, Salt, or Cream of Tartar
We’re specifically referring to coarse salt here, but if you do happen to have some on hand it can prove an effective cleaning tool. Mix some with warm water and a few squirts of dish soap for an easier pot-scrubbing experience. Cream of tartar can act as a baking soda substitute, so if you want to try one of the previously mentioned techniques that involve baking soda but you only have cream of tartar, give it a go!
Finally, ketchup works a bit differently than any of the methods mentioned thus far. While it might not be the best option for scorch marks or burnt-on food removal, it can be used to get old pots or pans that have lost their non-stickiness back into shape. Simply rub ketchup all over the inside of your pot or pan, let it sit for 15 minutes, then wash!
How to Avoid Burning Pots and Pans
Another approach to dealing with burnt pots and pans is not burning them in the first place! Here are some ways to cut down on charred cookware.
Pay the Premium
We’ve all heard the saying “you get what you pay for” and as it turns out, it’s a saying for a reason. In the case of pots and pans, lower-quality options are often made of materials that don’t burn evenly, and an uneven burn is more likely to leave your pot or pan singed. Keep an eye out for three-ply, non-stick, stainless steel options when you’re in the market for some new kitchen supplies.
Care for your Cookware
It’s a good practice to wipe down any pot or pan before you cook with it, inside and out. This is to prevent any old food that might have stuck around from getting burned onto the metal. If you’re using cast iron, however, always make sure it’s properly seasoned to avoid burning.
There are a few different ways to decrease the chances of your pot or pan burning when it’s used. For starters, you should almost always heat up some form of oil (vegetable oil, olive oil, butter, etc.) in your pot or pan before adding any ingredients. If you’re making a sauce, heat it up gradually, and be sure to always cook over a burner that’s proportional to your pot or pan (especially if you have a gas stove). If your pot or pan doesn’t fit over any of your stove’s eyes exactly, opt for a burner that’s too small over one that’s too large. You should also stir food often while it cooks and rotate the pot or pan it’s cooking in to promote even heat distribution.
Now that you know both how to clean a burnt pot and how to avoid it burning in the first place, trying out that new recipe might feel less daunting: Just don’t forget to set a timer! If there are any other things in your kitchen that need some TLC, like the dishwasher or microwave, we have all of the cleaning hacks you could ever need right here on the Public Goods Blog.
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