Skip to content

How To Clean A Scorched Pan

    After following a recipe to the smallest detail, you now put a lid over your pan to finish the rest of the cooking, and while the food cooks, you take a short nap. The delicious smell has disappeared when you wake up, and the house is full of a burning smell. This is every cook’s nightmare and worsens the situation; your beloved pan is now beyond recognition, covered in burnt food. 

    Every new chef or home cook has a favorite pot and pan, and it hurts a lot when the pan is a mess. Many store-bought options, such as Bon Ami, Barkeeper’s friend, etc., are pretty popular and effective; however, you do not always have to turn to a store-bought option. Numerous items in your kitchen can successfully clean a scorched pan.

    Vinegar And Baking Soda

    Vinegar is a lifesaver; it adds flavor to the food and aids in the cleaning process. Vinegar is a multi-purpose cleaner; it is a disinfectant and a non-toxic glass cleaner. 

    • Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in the pot or pan you wish to clean.
    • Put the pan on the stove and let the mixture come to a boil.
    • Let the diluted vinegar boil for a minute in the pot. After a minute, remove the pot from the stove and drain the water into the sink. 
    • Next, add a spoonful of baking soda to the pan (now, in most recipes, the baking soda is added to the vinegar to form a fizzy mixture, but the goal here isn’t to create a fizzy volcano. The trick is to let the vinegar and baking soda elements work independently to get the best results). Baking soda is abrasive and hence helps in lifting the stains. The next step is to use a scouring pad to gently scrub any remaining burn marks on the bottom of the pan.
    • Next, rinse it clean with regular dish soap.


    Salt is a great cleaning agent, especially coarse Kosher salt. Coarse Kosher salt acts as a great agent for alleviating burn marks in a pan and is particularly best at combating greasy messes. Koshar salt works exceptionally well when paired with Dawn dish detergent and warm water. If you do not have the detergent, you can use half a lemon with Kosher salt and massage the burnt areas in the pan. 

    Cream Of Tartar

    Cream of tartar serves as an abrasive alternative to baking soda. 

    • Mix a spoonful of cream of tartar with a cup of water and bring it to a boil in the scorched pan.
    • Let the water boil in the pan for a minute or longer.
    • Next, let the water cool down and then scrub the pan using a scrub pad to revive the pan to its previous glory. 

    Dryer Sheet

    Fill your sink with water and add a little dish soap to the water, enough to create a foamy solution. Next, soak your pan into the sink and add a dryer sheet too. If you do not have a dryer sheet available, you can always use a tablespoon of fabric softener as a substitute. The dryer sheet will aid in loosening the burnt-on food and leave the pan scratch-free and shining. 


    Act fast while the pan is still hot; pour either club soda or an inexpensive store-bought soda into the bottom of the pan. Make sure the soda entirely covers the bottom of the pan. The soda will activate the carbonation process, which will aid in loosening the burnt food from the bottom. Next, use your regular dish wash to clean the pan.

    Alka Seltzer

    Don’t you love it when the solution to a problem is right there in front of you? For instance, Alka seltzer is a common effervescent item in most households, and apart from its obvious use, you can use it to clean your scorched pan. The workings of Alka seltzer are similar to club soda; add one to two tablets to your ruined pan along with some hot water. Set aside the pan for an hour or two and let the solution do its work. After a while, drain the solution and wash the pan clean with a dishwasher. 


    This might seem a bit weird for some of you reading, but ketchup does, in fact, work wonders not only with food but also with utensils. Ketchup by itself does not have a high acidic value making it useless against heavy burns. However, ketchup does tend to add shine and revive dull and tarnished pans, and if the pan isn’t a huge mess, the acidic value of ketchup works just fine in combating the marks.  So, take your pan and coat the bottom thoroughly with America’s favorite condiment. Let the pan sit for an hour or two and wipe it off.

    Boiled Lemons

    Some stains are ok, and some are a complete disaster with no scope whatsoever, but there is a worse situation: scorched pans with an awful smell. That’s right, and sometimes you can clean your pot or pan; however, you cannot get rid of a lingering smell. Boiled lemons are the best solution to get rid of the sticky burnt pieces and get rid of the smell.

    • Cut up two or three lemons into quarter pieces and place them into the pan. 
    • Add water to the pan and make sure the lemons are ideally submerged. 
    • Boil the water for 20 minutes or until you start seeing a few burnt pieces floating. 
    • Drain the water into the sink and discard the lemon pieces. You will note that most of the burnt food is no longer visible.
    • Now using regular dish wash and a scrub, start working on any remaining burnt pieces. You will see that the burnt parts come off way more manageable than before.
    • Rinse the pan clean. 

    Aluminum Foil 

    That’s right! Cover the burnt portion of your pan with baking soda and add a few drops of water to form a paste. Next, tear out a piece of aluminum foil and crunch it up into a ball. Start scrubbing the bottom of the pan with the crunched-up aluminum ball. When you use a scrubbing pad, you have to put in a lot of effort; however, an aluminum foil works wonders with half the effort.

    Just scrub using the ball for a good five to eight minutes, and you will notice that the burnt food starts falling off. You might need to repeat the process once or twice as the baking soda gets dirty, making it difficult to see which part still requires attention. However, this method is by far the easiest and successful way to clean your scorched pan and revive it to its former glory. 


    There you have nine methods to clean your ruined pans. These methods are highly successful and will remove all signs of a disastrous meal. The best part is that all items are readily available in most kitchens, so you do not have to take a trip to the market to buy a single thing. So, make sure you try the method that seems best for you and enjoy your thoroughly clean utensils and pans.