Easy Steps to Clean a Burnt Pot: Tips & Tricks

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Last updated: January 25, 2024

We’ve all been there – distracted for just a moment, and suddenly you’re left with a pot covered in a charred mess. I know how frustrating it can be to see your favorite cookware in such a sorry state. But don’t worry, I’ve got some tried-and-true methods to get that pot looking as good as new.

No need to start scouring the stores for a replacement just yet. I’ll show you how to tackle even the most stubborn burnt-on food with items you likely already have in your kitchen. Stick with me, and you’ll have your burnt pot restored without breaking a sweat.

Gathering Your Supplies

Before tackling that daunting burnt pot, it’s key to arm yourself with the right tools. You might be surprised to find that many of these supplies are already in your kitchen, waiting to be put to use. Let’s start with the essentials:

  • Baking soda, a natural abrasive that can cut through grime without scratching your pot
  • Vinegar, which can break down burnt residues due to its acidity
  • Mild dish soap, for a final wash that’s gentle on your cookware
  • A couple of sponges or scrubbers, one that’s non-abrasive for lighter scrubbing and another that’s more heavy-duty
  • Some water, preferably warm, to help dissolve and loosen the burnt bits

Heat and chemical reactions will be your primary strategies here. Mixing baking soda with water or vinegar creates a potent paste that makes the scrubbing process much more manageable. Always have a set of rubber gloves to protect your hands from any harsh scrubbing or chemical interaction. Armed with these simple supplies, you’re ready to move on to the actual cleaning process, which, with a little elbow grease, can bring back your pot’s lost shine.

Assessing the Damage

Before diving into scrubbing the burnt pot, it’s essential to assess the damage. I’ll carefully examine the extent of the burning and the type of material the pot is made of. Different materials like stainless steel, cast iron, or non-stick coatings will need distinct approaches for effective cleaning.

I’ll check for any warping or cracks in the pot. If the pot’s damaged beyond repair, it may be safer to replace it. However, minor burns can often be salvaged with the right cleaning methods.

Identifying the severity of the burn will help me determine how long I need to soak the pot and which cleaning methods to employ. For light burns, a soaking period of a few hours may suffice, while more severe cases might require an overnight soak.

Soaking and Scrubbing

After assessing the burnt pot, it’s time to begin the soaking process. I’ve found that warm water and dish soap are your best friends when tackling a burnt mess. Fill the pot with water and add a few drops of a strong degreasing dish soap. Let it soak for at least an hour; overnight soaking might be necessary for severe cases.

Once the pot has soaked, the charred remnants should be loosened up. At this point, I grab a non-abrasive scrubber and start working on the stains. A circular motion generally works best, and applying consistent pressure helps lift off the gunk without damaging the pot’s surface. If the pot’s material is durable, such as stainless steel, you may also use a scrubbing pad for tougher spots.

For those stubborn areas that just won’t budge, creating a paste of baking soda and water can work wonders. Apply the paste and let it sit for about 15 minutes before scrubbing again. The baking soda acts as a mild abrasive that helps to remove the burnt layer without the need for harsh chemicals.

Using Baking Soda and Vinegar

Even after soaking and scrubbing, you might find that stubborn char remains clung to the bottom of your pot. That’s when baking soda and vinegar – your kitchen’s dynamic duo – come into play. This method leverages a natural chemical reaction to lift even the toughest burnt residues.

To start, I sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the burnt area, ensuring it’s fully covered. The ideal ratio is about one cup of baking soda to every two cups of water. Then, I pour in half a cup of white vinegar and watch the fizzing action that ensues. It’s essential to let this mixture sit and work its magic for about 15 minutes.

After the wait, I add hot water until the pot is half full and bring it to a boil. The heat intensifies the reaction, further loosening the burnt bits. Boiling should take around 10 minutes before I switch off the stove and let the pot cool down. With a wooden spoon or spatula, I gently scrape away the now-softened food.

This method has proven to be a highly effective way to lift burnt-on food without causing harm to the pot’s surface. For tougher stains, repeat the process or let the mixture sit for longer. It’s a testament to the power of simple household ingredients in tackling even the most daunting kitchen challenges.

Trying Commercial Cleaners

When household remedies fall short, it’s time to consider commercial cleaners specifically designed for cookware. These products often contain strong chemicals that are formulated to break down even the most stubborn burns and stains. Always wear gloves and ensure your space is well-ventilated when using these products.

I’d recommend starting with a gentle cleaner before moving on to the more abrasive options. Apply the cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions, which typically involve either applying directly to the burnt area or mixing with water to create a solution. Allow it to sit for the specified time, often around 10-20 minutes, before scrubbing with a non-metallic brush or pad.

Remember to carefully rinse the pot with warm water to remove any residual cleaner. It’s essential to avoid mixing different commercial cleaners, as this can lead to dangerous chemical reactions.

In my experience, for extremely tough cases, a cleaner containing abrasive compounds can be very effective. These are usually in a paste form and require a bit more elbow grease, but the payoff is a clean, restored pot ready for your next culinary adventure.


Restoring a burnt pot doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right approach and materials, you can bring back its shine and extend its life. Remember to start with the least abrasive methods and work your way up if necessary. It’s all about using the right cleaner for the job and being patient with the process. Don’t forget to rinse well and care for your cookware according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. With these strategies, you’ll have your pots looking as good as new in no time. Happy cleaning!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best method to clean a burnt pot?

The best method to clean a burnt pot is to use heat and chemical reactions, starting with household remedies. If necessary, you can then progress to commercial cookware cleaners.

Can I use commercial cleaners on all types of cookware?

Yes, but always start with a gentle cleaner and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific type of cookware to avoid damage.

What supplies do I need to clean a burnt pot?

You will need the right cleaning agents, such as baking soda or vinegar for mild cases, and commercial cookware cleaners for tougher jobs. Additionally, you will need some scrubbing tools like sponges or brushes.

What should I do if household remedies are not working?

If household remedies are ineffective, consider using a commercial cookware cleaner suitable for your pot’s material, starting with the least abrasive option.

How important is it to rinse the pot after cleaning?

It is crucial to rinse the pot thoroughly after cleaning to remove any chemical residue, which ensures the pot is safe to use for cooking again.