How to Clean a Badly Burnt Pan

When you’re cooking something delicious and take a phone call, walk away from the stove to refill your glass of water or wander out of the room for just a minute, it’s not unusual to end up with a burned pan. This is a common kitchen mishap, and there are several different approaches you can take to get the job done. These techniques don’t require expensive, store-bought products like Barkeeper’s Friend or Bon Ami and will make your burnt pan look as good as new.

Baking soda is a common household product that can tackle a variety of jobs in the kitchen, including removing stubborn burn marks. Mix baking soda with a small amount of water to create a paste and apply it to the dirty pan. Allow the paste to sit for a few minutes, then scrub the spots with a non-scratch sponge or scouring pad. If stubborn residue remains, pour a small amount of vinegar into the pan and repeat the process until the food and carbon are completely gone.

Vinegar can be used to break down oil and grease in addition to burning foods. For a nonstick or Teflon pan, use a lighter solution of this liquid to remove stuck-on food residue. Fill the pan with equal parts water and vinegar and bring to a boil. When the mixture begins to hiss, remove from heat and add two tablespoons of baking soda. Allow the pan to soak for up to 15 minutes before scrubbing with a non-scratch pad or sponge.

If your burnt pan isn’t particularly smoky, standard table salt may be all you need to get it clean. Sprinkle the burnt area with salt and run a sponge under a little water to make it damp. Scrub the affected area with the damp sponge, using gentle pressure, until the burnt area has disappeared. Rinse and wash the pan with warm, hot water.

This might seem like a strange idea, but it can be a great way to clean a burnt pan that’s been in your cupboard for a while. Fill the pan with a generous amount of carbonated water and leave it to sit for a couple of hours or overnight (if you’re in a rush). This will help dissolve sticky food residue that can be hard to remove otherwise.

A few slices of fresh lemons can also do wonders for a burnt pot or pan. Fill the pan with enough water to just cover the lemons and bring to a boil. Once the lemons begin to float, remove the pan from the heat and let it soak. The lemon juice will soften the stuck-on food, making it easier to remove with a sponge or scouring pad. Be sure to not use this method on a Teflon or other coated pan, as the acid can damage the coating.