7+ Ways to Clean a Burnt Pan

Remedy your burnt kitchen pots and pans with these homemade cleaning solutions.

We've all done it — the recipe says to mix constantly at a boil, but you take a chance and step away. Just for a minute, you’ll be right back! Inevitably, the food burns. And the pan is a mess. Ugh, why did you do that?

When it's time to clean up the mess, the store-bought varieties such as Barkeeper's Friend, Bon Ami, Carbon Off are popular; however, in a pinch (and for less $$$) consider these easy solutions that use materials found around the home to clean your scorched pan. You might even find them more effective.

Cleaning a pan that is scorched or burnt with food.

How to Clean a Scorched Pan

Cleaning a pan that is scorched or burnt with food.

Photo by: Emily Fazio ©2016

Emily Fazio, 2016

Clean a Burnt Pan Using Vinegar and Baking Soda

Vinegar is a great multi-purpose cleaner. Use it as a disinfectant, a non-toxic glass cleaner, and yes, put it to use in the kitchen too.

  1. Pour a small layer of equal parts water and white vinegar on the bottom of the pan.
  2. Heat the diluted vinegar on the stovetop and allow it to come to a boil.
  3. After it boils for a minute, remove it from the heat and drain the vinegar down the sink.
  4. Add a tablespoon of baking soda to the empty pan (the point here isn’t to create a fizzy volcano by combining vinegar and baking soda, you want the two cleaning agents to operate independently). Baking soda is abrasive and will help to lift the staining. Use a scouring pad to massage the baking soda to combat any remaining burn marks on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Rinse it clean.

More Ways to Clean Burnt Pots and Pans

Salt

Salt, especially coarse Kosher salt, is great for alleviating scorch marks in pans and is especially great for greasy messes. Try pairing it with Dawn dish detergent and hot water, or massaging it into the burnt pan with the juicy core of a cut lemon.

Cream of Tartar

Cream of tartar is an abrasive substitute for baking soda.

  • Mix a tablespoon of it in a cup of water and bring it to a boil in a scorched pan.
  • Allow the water to cool.
  • Scrub the pan to bring it back to a shine.
More Advice

4 Clever Ways to Use Cream of Tartar Beyond Baking

We've got four ways to use cream of tartar in your next cleaning emergency.

Dryer Sheet

Soak a burnt pan with soap and water, and add a dryer sheet into the mix. Allow it to sit for an hour. The dryer sheet (you can substitute a tablespoon of fabric softener) will loosen the burnt-on food and leave you with a shiny like-new pan.

Soda

While the pan is still hot, pour soda (either club soda or an inexpensive store-brand soda) and coat the bottom of the pan. Allow the carbonation in the soda to loosen the burnt grime then wash the pan clean.

Use Soda to Clean Stains, Grout and Even Your Car

Use your favorite soft drink to help clean around the house.

Alka Seltzer

This common household effervescent will work just as well as club soda. Add 1-2 tablets to hot water in your pan, and allow it to sit and take action against stubborn burns.

Ketchup

While by itself it may not be acidic enough to remove heavy burns on pans, ketchup is popular for reviving dull and tarnished pots and pans. Coat the affected area with a thin layer of America’s favorite condiment and wipe clean after 15 minutes.

We're sorry, there seems to be an issue playing this video. Please refresh the page or try again in a moment. If you continue to have issues, please contact us here.

How to Clean Cookware
Loading Video...

Next Up

How to Clean a Washing Machine

Keeping a washing machine clean and well maintained will help keep it working for years to come.

How to Remove Wallpaper

Wallpaper removal is relatively simple with some elbow grease and a few household items.

How to Clean and Disinfect a Wood Cutting Board

Keep your wood cutting boards germ free with a few simple steps.

How to Clean a Coffee Maker With Vinegar

Follow these simple steps for cleaning an auto-drip coffee maker for a germ-free home brewer and a fresh tasting cup of joe.

5 Ways to Clean a Microwave Naturally

Clean that dirty microwave with these all-natural methods using everyday pantry items.

How to Clean a Humidifier

Improve your home's air quality by disinfecting one of the most important small appliances you’re probably forgetting to clean.

The Easiest Way to Clean a Dishwasher

Learn how to safely clean a dishwasher. This simple trick involving vinegar will help you sanitize and sterilize your most-used appliance.

How to Clean Your Vacuum Filters

If your vacuum isn’t cleaning as well as it used to, a dirty filter may be the culprit. Learn how to clean a variety of vacuum filter styles to keep your machine working its best.

Here's How to Clean an Aquarium the Right Way

Are you a new fish parent? Then, you’re probably wondering how to clean an aquarium. Like most things, there’s a right way and a wrong way. We’ll share both (and the wrong way might surprise you).

How to Clean Window Screens

Cleaning aluminum and fiberglass window screens helps them last longer and makes them easier to see out of from indoors. Get tips for the easiest way to clean window screens.

Go Shopping

Refresh your home with stylish products handpicked by HGTV editors.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.