How to Clean a Burnt Pot or Pan with Baking Soda


Blackened, crusty, burnt food in the bottom of a pan. It can happen to anyone – even professional chefs. From the looks of the mess, you might have lost hope of trying to clean it, but a badly burnt pot can be saved with the power of ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda and a little elbow grease.


Remove Badly Burnt Food from Your Pot or Saucepan

It only takes a second for your eggs, sauce or other food to get scorched. Any distraction or discrepancy in timing and you can be fanning the smoke detector and staring at a burnt pot that seems beyond saving.


While the food you were cooking is ruined (time for takeout, maybe?), your stainless steel saucepan isn’t, even if it’s oxidized, blackened, discolored, or covered in stubborn charred debris. Reach for your ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda and follow these steps to clean the burnt pan and get it back in commission in your kitchen.


How to Clean a Burnt Stainless Steel or Aluminum Pan

With some basic kitchen staples, there are several techniques you can use to clean a badly burnt stainless steel pan. You’ll need baking soda, water, and white vinegar, and a scouring pad and scraper, such as a wooden spatula. One method uses a fresh lemon, cut in half.


Baking soda is your go-to for cleaning a burnt pot or pan because it has mild abrasive properties and its alkaline pH can help neutralize acidic burnt foods. It can also combine with an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice to create a fizzing reaction that helps loosen burnt food to get it off your pan.

The Deglazing Technique

You may have used the deglazing technique to loosen flavorful bits from the pan to make a sauce or gravy. In this method, you have to loosen the burnt on food first, deglaze the pan, then use baking soda to scrub.

  1. Remove as much burnt food and debris from the pan as possible.
  2. Put the pan back on the stove and heat until a droplet of water sizzles.
  3. Add 1 cup water or a mixture of ½ water and ½ white vinegar to the hot pan and allow to boil. Use more if you have a large pot or pan.
  4. As the liquid simmers, use the spatula or scraper to deglaze the bottom of the pan, loosening bits of burnt food.
  5. Pour the liquid into the sink and do not dry or wipe the pan.
  6. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan liberally with baking soda and let the pan cool.
  7. Using a wet scouring sponge or nylon brush, scrub the pot bottom vigorously.
  8. Wash and dry as normal once all stains and scorched bits have been removed.


The Baking Soda & Water Method

If you have a scorched pan with burnt food, you can use baking soda and water to get the job done.

  1. Remove as much food and debris from the pan as possible.
  2. Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Make enough to cover the scorched portion of the pan. For a full pot bottom, try 1 cup baking soda and 1/3 cup water.
  3. Liberally apply the paste to the burnt pan. It should be thick enough to coat fully.
  4. Alternatively, cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of warm water. Then add enough baking soda to create a paste.
  5. Let the mixture sit for a few hours or overnight, then add more baking soda and scrub with a nylon brush or scour sponge.
  6. If you don’t want to wait, add another ¼ - ½ cup water to thin the paste then put the pan on the stove and let it come to a boil. Remove it from the heat quickly – you don’t want it to burn again! Let the pan cool and wipe or scrub to remove the scorched bits.

You can also use baking soda in this way to wash pots and pans regularly and help prevent scorched stains or burnt-on residue.


The Baking Soda & Vinegar Method

For a more heavy duty cleaning, add white vinegar to the baking soda and let kitchen chemistry help break down burnt food on your scorched pan.

  1. Remove as much food and debris from the pan as possible.
  2. Add a enough white vinegar to cover the bottom of the pan with at least ½ inch of liquid.
  3. Boil the vinegar in the pan and let simmer for a few minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add 1 cup baking soda. You will get a fizzing reaction. It might be best to do this in the sink.
  5. Set the pot aside and wait until all the fizzing and bubbling dies down.
  6. Discard the liquid and scrub the pan with a nylon scrub brush or scour sponge, adding more baking soda as necessary.
  7. Rinse clean and dry.


The Baking Soda & Lemon Method

Lemons are a great way to clean and shine stainless steel or copper cookware. Combined with the power of baking soda, you can remove black, yellow, or rainbow oxidization stains and help restore a burnt pan. It’s easy if you follow these steps:

  1. Remove as much food and debris from the pan as possible.
  2. Keep a thin layer of water in the pan, then sprinkle the bottom liberally with baking soda.
  3. Cut a lemon in half and use the flesh side to scour the pan with the baking soda slurry. The combination of the acidic lemon juice and the alkaline baking soda may fizz slightly. This is a good thing!
  4. If your pan has a copper bottom that has gotten blackened or tarnished, turn the pot upside down and use this method to help remove the stains and restore the shine.



Remove Burnt Food and Stains on a Non-Stick or Ceramic Pan

Non-stick pans can retain stains, flavors, and odors, especially from scorched oil. But you can’t use metal tools or scrubbing pads without risking harm to their non-stick surface. Luckily, you can neutralize and clean coated or ceramic non-stick pans with baking soda, water, and a nylon brush or non-scratching sponge.

  • Remove as much food and debris from the pan as possible.
  • Method 1: cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of warm water then sprinkle the pot with baking soda to create a paste. Let the mixture rest for several hours or overnight, then scrub with warm water and a non-stick surface safe sponge or nylon brush.
  • Method 2: Bring a solution of ½ cup water and 4 tablespoons of baking soda just to a boil. Remove from heat and let the pan rest until it is cool. Add more baking soda and scrub with a non-stick surface safe sponge or nylon brush.


How to Get Burnt Food Off a Cast Iron Skillet.

How to Get Burnt Food Off a Cast Iron Skillet

If you’ve burnt food in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven, keep water, soap and acidic items such as vinegar or lemon juice away from your pan as they can create rust and destroy the pan’s seasoning. Baking soda, however, is still your friend when it comes to cleaning up a burnt food mess from your cast iron pan.


Most times, you can clean your cast iron pan using hot water and a brush, but sometimes you’ll get a burnt-on mess or you want to give your pan a deep cleaning. After using this cast-iron safe method to remove the burnt food, coat the pan with oil to help re-season and restore its non-stick surface.

  1. Remove as much food and debris from the pan as possible.
  2. Cover the bottom of the pan with baking soda. Then add 2-3 tablespoons of water until it is moist but not a liquid. You want the consistency of a sandy paste.
  3. Scrub the pan with a stiff-bristle brush or scouring pad. Do not add soap. The baking soda is a mild abrasive to help remove stubborn burnt on food and the alkalinity helps neutralize odors or flavors that can be cooked into the pan.
  4. Rinse and repeat if necessary to remove any remaining burnt food. The more you scrub, the more of your good seasoning you will remove, so don’t go overboard.
  5. Fully dry the cast iron pan and then rub with vegetable oil applied to a paper towel. Coat the bottom of the pan and up the sides.
  6. Place the pan on a stove burner and heat over medium-low heat for about an hour, or place it in your oven at 400 degrees for the same amount of time. The pan may smoke as it seasons, so turn on your vent hood to help prevent setting off your smoke detectors.

More Ways to Clean With ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda


Baking soda is a versatile natural cleaner that can be used around your home to help with everyday cleaning and seasonal deep cleans. For more tips on using baking soda to clean your home, explore these articles:


Tips to freshen things up

3 of 227 How To

Close PopUp