5 tricks cleaning professionals use to clean a burnt pot – without elbow grease or breaking a sweat

Expert tips for cleaning a burnt pan – and letting the products do all the hard work you

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(Image credit: The Real Shaker Kitchen by deVOL / photography by Our Food Stories)

We've all been there... turned on the hob before taking an important phone call or tackling another task and completely forgetting the job at hand. But don't panic, there are a few tricks cleaning professionals use to clean a burnt pot without even breaking a sweat – and we've got the lowdown.

And you don't have to use any harsh chemicals for an effective result either – there are plenty of products you will find in your pantry that are perfect for kitchen cleaning – and that will shift that burnt-on food in pots and pans, while you put your feet up. 

'Cleaning burnt pots can be stubborn, but the easiest way to go about it without scrubbing all day is letting it soak,' says Vera Peterson, President of Molly Maid (opens in new tab). Below, Vera and other cleaning experts tell us how they clean a burnt pot with as little effort as possible.

5 tricks cleaning professionals use to clean a burnt pot

deVOL's shaker kitchen in a showroom

(Image credit: deVOL)

If you've tried cleaning your burnt pan with green dish soap but the mess is sticking fast, you may need to try some other options. Follow these top tips cleaning experts use to get a burnt pot sparkling again without too much elbow grease.

1. Dish soap and baking soda

Cleaning with baking soda is always one of our go-tos. 'Fill the pot with hot water and a few drops of dish detergent,' says Vera. 'Depending on the dirtiness and stubbornness of your dish, let it soak anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours. 

'After the time is up, empty the pot and add baking soda in. Using a wet sponge or scrubber, add a few drops of dish soap to scrub and then rinse with hot water.'

2. Vinegar and baking soda

Dealing with extra extra stubborn burnt areas? Try cleaning with vinegar (white or apple cider will do) and baking soda for a solution that packs a punch.

Vera says: 'If the dish soap doesn't do the trick, try covering the area of the pot with baking soda and then add vinegar into it. 

'Let the baking soda and vinegar chemicals react and sit for a few minutes and then wipe clean with a soapy sponge and rinse with hot water.'

You can also use a simple mix of baking soda and water. Just let it simmer before cooling and soaking for a couple of hours; leave it overnight if your burnt pan is really gunky. Then simply wipe clean.

3. Aluminum foil

If you already thought aluminum foil was a brilliant little multi-tasker, get ready to be even more impressed – it works brilliantly on cleaning burnt pots.

Sabrina Fierman, of New York's Little Elves (opens in new tab), explains: 'For pans with stubborn black, burnt and discolored areas, try using crushed aluminum foil (never use on Teflon or coated pans).  

'You can add a bit of powdered Comet (opens in new tab) or Bar Keeper’s Friend (opens in new tab) [both on sale at Amazon] for extra grit.  Apply only a tiny bit of water to make a paste. This works very well on built up, intractable dirt.  

'Check the foil from time to time and replace when it gets smoothed out due to excessive rubbing.'

4. Limes and salt

Not just a tasty slice for your mojitos, limes are an effective cleaning tool and, when mixed with salt, can easily clean a burnt pan.

Pour some lime juice and salt into your burnt pot and allow the mixture to sit for around 15 minutes. Add a sprinkle more salt, and give the pan a little scrub. It won't take too much effort before you see the food lifting off.

5. Coca Cola

'We've all heard how Coca Cola can clean a penny overnight, so it's no surprise it can loosen stuck-on food to clean a burnt pot,' says Sabrina Fierman.

The acid in the liquid will work to loosen stuck-on food. Simply pour a can into the pot and let is simmer gently for 30 minutes. Then wipe clean.

How do I clean a badly burnt pot?

deVOL's St. John's Square Haberdashery

(Image credit: deVOL)

Baking soda is your best friend when it comes to cleaning a burn pot with stubborn food and stains. Simply simmer baking soda and water for a while and then let it cool (the longer it soaks, the easier it will be to clean – give it overnight if necessary). Then simply rinse and wipe clean.

If there's still a bit of dirt, try adding a paste of baking soda and a couple of drops of water. Leave it to sit for a while and then wash as usual.

If you need a bit more firepower for really stuck-on food, try boiling white vinegar in the burnt pot for about five minutes, before adding two tablespoons of baking soda. Let the mixture fizz and work its magic for shifting stuck-on black bits. When the fizzing dies down, pour out the liquid and wash as usual with dish soap and a sponge.

Does vinegar clean burnt pots?

Yes, vinegar is very effective at cleaning burnt pots, thanks to the fact it contains acetic acid – a compound that is actually regularly found in anything from mildew cleaners to surface cleaners.

Contributing Editor

Ruth Doherty is an experienced digital writer and editor specializing in interiors, travel and lifestyle. With 20 years of writing for national sites under her belt, she’s worked for the likes of Livingetc.com, Standard, Ideal Home, Stylist and Marie Claire as well as Homes & Gardens.