Cleaning Burned Pots and Pans
I have a problem with my pots and pans. I can soak them all day and night but still I can’t get them clean. I was told to use aluminum foil but it still won’t work all the way clean. Any other tips? I’m desperate. God bless you guys.
I normally would soak a pan in hot soapy water first. If that fails and things are really bad, try some of the formulas I’m including here. The one that works best will depend on what type of pan you’re using. If a pan is burned beyond being able to use it, whether you ruin the finish or not is the least of your worries.
Because I’m not sure what kind of pan you have, I will have to be a little bit general in my answer. I really should be an expert at this now. My daughter, who is going to kill me when she reads this, has been burning pans on a daily basis for years and I’m talking really burning pans. Once, she burned a pan so badly that she fused the pan to the burner and we couldn’t get them apart. : )
(Note from Tawra: The sign up above my stove says: “I kiss better than I cook”
Needless to say, we have tried every method known to man. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. The best method to use depends on what you have burned on the pan and what type of pan you used so you may have to try a couple of different things to find the best one.
The easiest way to clean a burned pan is not to burn it in the first place. I know that may seem like a less than brilliant statement but sometimes when we continually have problems with burned pans, there may be an easy solution to it.
1. It could be the pan itself.
The problem isn’t always your cooking. If you find yourself burning one pan frequently but you don’t have problems with other pans, it could be something about the pan and you may have to get rid of it. I hate to say that because I know pans can be expensive but if you keep ruining everything you cook in a pan and you must keep throwing food away, it might be cheaper in the long run to replace the pan. Sometimes when a pan has been severely burned it will have a tendency to burn again and again if you aren’t careful with it.
2. It could be your stove.
I had always had an inexpensive set of pans, which worked beautifully for me. Once, I was given a set of very expensive stainless steel pans to use. The first time I cooked with them I burned everything. I kept adjusting the heat (I was down to using simmer and low on my burner) and trying to do different things to prevent it but I still kept burning things. Finally I discovered my stove cooked hotter than many other stoves and the pans I was using simply wouldn’t work on it.
3. You always cook on high.
A lot of people cook on too high of a temperature so if you have trouble with continually burning things, try turning your heat down a little and paying more attention. Follow the directions in your favorite cookbook!
4. Watch what you cook.
Ninety percent of the time something gets burned because we haven’t paid attention to what we were cooking. If you have to step away from the stove even for a minute, turn the heat down or off or set a timer. (I really must practice what I preach. Would you believe the day after I wrote this, for the first time in ages, I put some oil in a pan, walked away to check the mail and forgot it?!?!)
(Note from Tawra: Oh, you’re supposed to pay attention to what you’re cooking?)
Now to your question Janine.
Often, you just have to use good old fashioned elbow grease. (For you who don’t know what that means, it’s hard scrubbing). The kind of pan you’re working with will make a difference in the way some of these methods work so you may have to try a couple of methods to find one that works for you.
I know you are not supposed to use a steel wool pad (SOS) on pans but, to be honest, I use one most of the time. Like I said before I have very inexpensive pans and I’m not too worried about ruining them. I paid less because I wanted to be able to scour my pans rather than having to leave a pan soaking for days to get it clean.
I even use SOS pads on non stick coated pans and I’ve never had trouble with flaking or ruining a pan. If you have expensive pans and don’t want to use steel wool, I completely understand, but if I am ever in a situation where I have to either scrub a pan and put a few scratches on it or throw it away, I would rather keep the pan with a few scratches than get rid of it.
Here are a few formulas for you to try. You may have to scrub the pan no matter which formula you use but, with the right formula, you shouldn’t have to scrub as much. You don’t really have to use exact measurements. I just dump the ingredients in. The measurements are just to give you a general idea of the proportions.
Burned Pan Cleaning Recipe #1
In the pan, place about:
1 inch water
1 Tbsp. baking soda
2-3 Tbsp. hydrogen peroxide
1-2 drops liquid dish detergent (no more or it will bubble like crazy)
Boil (don’t simmer) 10-15 minutes. Check it to make sure it doesn’t boil dry. If necessary, just add a little more water.
Burned Pan Cleaning Recipe #2
In a pan, place:
1 inch of water
dishwasher detergent tablet (You could try 1-2 Tbsp. powdered dishwasher soap instead.)
1 Tbsp. baking soda
2-3 Tbsp. vinegar
Boil (don’t simmer) 10-15 minutes.
P.S. I know there are many cleansers to use on pans but that is another whole different subject that I’ll have to touch on some day. This article is only about removing things that have been burned on.
For more easy cleaning tips to make your life easier, check out our Keeping It Clean e-books.