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Cooking is a wonderful way to nourish ourselves and our loved ones, but it can sometimes leave us with burnt-on food stains that are not so easy to clean. Burnt-on food can be stubborn and frustrating, making it difficult to restore our pots and pans to their original pristine condition. However, with the right cleaning methods and products, we can effectively remove burnt-on food and make our cookware look brand new again. In this article, we will explore various cleaning methods and products that can help us tackle this common kitchen challenge.

1. Soaking in Hot Water and Dish Soap

One of the simplest and most effective ways to remove burnt-on food from pots and pans is by soaking them in hot water and dish soap. Start by filling the affected cookware with hot water and add a few drops of dish soap. Allow the solution to sit for at least 30 minutes, or longer for more stubborn stains. The heat and detergent will help loosen the burnt-on food particles, making them easier to remove later.

2. Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are two common household items that can work wonders when it comes to cleaning burnt-on food. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the affected area and then pour vinegar on top. The mixture will begin to fizz, which helps to break down the burnt residue. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a sponge or non-abrasive brush. Rinse thoroughly with water afterwards.

3. Salt and Lemon

Another natural cleaning solution that can effectively tackle burnt-on food is a mixture of salt and lemon. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt onto the affected area and then use half a lemon to scrub the stain. The acidity of the lemon combined with the abrasiveness of the salt will help to lift off the burnt residue. Rinse the pot or pan thoroughly with water once the stain is removed.

4. Commercial Oven Cleaners

For particularly stubborn burnt-on food stains, commercial oven cleaners can be a valuable ally. These cleaners are specifically formulated to cut through tough grease and grime, making them highly effective for removing burnt-on food. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer, as the application and contact time may vary depending on the brand. It is important to wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated area when using oven cleaners.

5. Bar Keepers Friend

Bar Keepers Friend is a versatile cleaning product that can be used on a wide range of surfaces, including stainless steel, copper, and ceramic. To remove burnt-on food, simply sprinkle Bar Keepers Friend powder onto the stained area and scrub gently with a sponge or cloth. The mild abrasive properties of this product help to lift off the burnt residue without scratching the surface. Rinse thoroughly with water after cleaning.

6. Scrubbing with Aluminum Foil

Aluminium foil can be surprisingly effective at removing burnt-on food from pots and pans. Crumple a piece of aluminium foil into a ball and use it to scrub the affected area. The foil acts as a gentle abrasive, helping to lift off the burnt-on food without damaging the cookware. Ensure thorough rinsing with water to eliminate any residue.

7. Prevention Tips

Prevention is always better than cure, so here are a few tips to help you avoid burnt-on food in the first place:

  • Use the right heat: Adjust the heat on your stovetop or oven according to the recipe’s instructions. High heat can lead to burning and sticking.
  • Stir frequently: Stirring your food regularly can help prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
  • Use non-stick cookware: Investing in high-quality non-stick cookware can make a significant difference in preventing food from sticking and burning.
  • Proper cleaning after each use: Make it a habit to clean your pots and pans thoroughly after each use. This will prevent any leftover food from becoming burnt-on stains.


Q: What causes food to burn and stick to pots and pans?

A: Food can burn and stick to pots and pans due to various reasons, such as using high heat, not stirring frequently, inadequate oil or butter, cooking for too long, or using low-quality cookware.

Q: Are there any homemade remedies for removing burnt-on food?

A: Yes, there are several homemade remedies that can help remove burnt-on food, such as soaking in hot water and dish soap, using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, or scrubbing with salt and lemon.

Q: Can I use abrasive materials or steel wool to remove burnt-on food?

A: It is generally recommended to avoid using abrasive materials or steel wool on pots and pans, especially if they have non-stick coatings or delicate surfaces. These can cause scratches and damage to the cookware.

Q: How long should I soak the pots and pans to remove burnt-on food?

A: The duration of soaking can vary depending on the severity of the burnt-on food. In general, it is recommended to soak for at least 30 minutes, but for more stubborn stains, longer soaking times may be necessary.

Q: Is it safe to use commercial oven cleaners on pots and pans?

A: Commercial oven cleaners are generally safe to use on pots and pans, but it is important to carefully follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Some cleaners may require additional precautions, such as wearing gloves and working in a well-ventilated area.

Q: Can I use the same cleaning methods on all types of cookware?

A: Different cleaning methods may be more suitable for specific types of cookware. For example, abrasive cleaning methods like using baking soda and vinegar may not be recommended for non-stick or delicate surfaces. It is always advisable to check the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning instructions specific to your cookware.


Dealing with burnt-on food stains on pots and pans can be a daunting task, but with the right cleaning methods and products, it can be conquered. Soaking in hot water and dish soap, using baking soda and vinegar, salt and lemon, or commercial oven cleaners are all effective options. Bar Keepers Friend and aluminium foil can also work wonders. By following prevention tips such as using the right heat, stirring frequently, and using non-stick cookware, you can minimize the occurrence of burnt-on food stains. With these techniques at your disposal, you can keep your pots and pans looking spotless and ready for your next culinary adventure.

Looking for something else? Read more detailed kitchen cleaning guides.