How to Clean a Burnt Pan: Quick & Easy Methods That Work

Updated June 9, 2021
On the stove is a dirty, burnt, unwashed pan

Looking for quick ways to save a pan after it gets scorched? There are several 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!

How to Clean a Burnt Pan: Materials

You can clean burnt pans in various ways. Depending on the material of the pan and what you have available, you'll use different tools. When setting out to get your pans sparkling, grab these supplies.

  • Baking soda

  • Scouring pad

  • White vinegar

  • Lemons

  • Dryer sheet

  • Fabric softener

  • Cream of tartar

  • Ketchup

  • Powdered dishwasher detergent

  • Long handle scrub brush

Remove Burnt Stains From Stainless Steel With Baking Soda and Vinegar

When it comes to most non-stick pans, you can use the vinegar and baking soda method to get them clean. This technique should be used only with pans that can be safely boiled on the stove.

  1. Make a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. (The amount you need depends on the size of your pan; a half cup of each is a good starting point).

  2. Pour the vinegar and water mixture into 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 the stove burner.

  6. Dump the solution into the sink to drain.

  7. Remove the pan from the eye.

  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 it to dry.

How to Clean a Burnt Pan With Baking Soda

You can also make a baking soda paste to clean the inside and outside of the pan. It works particularly well with greasy food.

  1. Put about 1/4 cup of baking soda in a bowl. (If the burnt pan is a large one, you may need more.)

  2. Stir in a teaspoon of water, adding additional drops as needed until a paste forms.

  3. Spread the baking soda paste across the burnt surface.

  4. Allow it to sit until it's almost dry.

  5. Wet a scouring pad and scrub in circular motions.

  6. Rinse the pan and allow it to dry.

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

Baking soda to remove burnt pan

Clean a Burnt Frying Pan With Lemon

White vinegar isn't the only acid to cut through scorch marks. For a fresh scent, grab the lemon and get ready to scrub.

  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 the 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.

How to Clean a Scorched Pan With Salt

Salt adds a bit more grit than baking soda so that it can be better for that really stuck-on gunk. However, you wouldn't want to use the salt method for non-stick pans. Stick with stainless steel and those without a non-stick coating.

  1. Scrap out as much gunk 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 it to soak for about five minutes.

  4. Place the pan of saltwater 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 saltwater. 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 saltwater.

  10. Washing using your standard 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. Once the pan has cooled, follow these steps.

  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 it to dry.

Fabric Softener to Clean a Burnt Pan

When it comes to your stainless steel frying pans, you might look to your laundry room for a little help. For this method, you need to grab the fabric softener and get ready to rumble.

  1. Fill the pan halfway up with water.

  2. Add the fabric softener (one sheet or one tablespoon of fabric softener).

  3. Allow it 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.

scrubbing a dirty metal surface

Ketchup for Cleaning Scorched 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.

  1. Cover the burned bits of food with ketchup.
  2. Let sit for a few hours or overnight.

  3. Scrub with your scouring pad.

  4. Rinse.

  5. Wash using your standard procedure.

Using Powdered Dishwasher Detergent on Burnt Pans

Another method you might try for your stainless steel and glass cookware is using powdered dishwasher detergent. It works to obliterate the crusty mess with ease.

  1. Sprinkle powdered dishwasher detergent across the bottom of the pan, being sure to coat all the areas with burnt buildup.

  2. Fill the pan with hot water.

  3. Allow it to soak for a few hours.

  4. Use the scouring pan to scrub it clean after it cools.

  5. Repeat as needed.

  6. Once the build-up is gone, wash using your usual procedure.

How to Clean a Burnt Non-Stick Pan

If the pan you need to clean is a nonstick one, you can start by just grabbing the baking soda. Since baking soda isn't abrasive, it doesn't damage the coating.

  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 the burner and remove it from heat.

  6. Allow it 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.

Clean 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 burnt cookware. This can work for all types of pans, including those non-stick ones.

  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 it to soak for 60 to 90 minutes.

  4. Remove the dryer sheet and dump the soapy water.

  5. Wash using your ordinary procedure.

Choosing the Best Method for Cleaning Burnt Pans

There is definitely more than one way to clean the bottom of a 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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How to Clean a Burnt Pan: Quick & Easy Methods That Work