How To Clean Burnt Pans (Quickly & Easily!)

How To Clean Burnt Pans (Quickly & Easily!)

Oops… Have you had a little cooking mishap? Perhaps you took a cheeky phone call while making bolognese, or wandered out the room when the pasta was boiling. Whatever the reason, a burnt pan can be a nightmare. Dealing with those annoying black marks is something you’d rather not do. The bad news is that you have to. Fortunately, there are four simple approaches you can use to get the job done.

Editor's Note: This post was originally posted in November 2021 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in November 2022.

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1. The Lemon Method

When you’re wondering how to clean burnt pans, you may want a natural and holistic method. We’ve got you covered. The lemon method is what it says on the tin. You use some tangy citrus fruits to do the hard cleaning work before cleaning the pan with a cloth. There are so many brilliant uses for lemons, but this one should help you get rid of those pesky grease marks and get rid of any nasty food stains. Sound good? Here’s what you need to know.

You will need:

  • Lemons
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Water
  • Cloth


Start by slicing up 2-3 fresh lemons into flat circles. You can place these in the bottom of your burnt pan. Next, add water and make sure that it adequately covers all of the lemon slices. Put the pan on medium heat and allow the water to heat up with the lemons in it. Bring the water to a boil and leave for around 10 minutes.

When you’ve done that, you can empty the pan (taking out all of the lemon slices) and leave a little water in the bottom. Leave the water to cool—this will likely take a few minutes. You can then use a cloth to clean the bottom of the pan. The idea is that the acid from the lemon will have loosened things up. That should mean that getting rid of burn marks is easier than it would otherwise be, so long as you use some elbow grease.

2. Tin Foil & Baking Soda

Let’s not beat around the bush. There’s an art when it comes to how to clean burnt pan bottom. If you’re looking for a tough approach, it may be worth grabbing some tin foil and baking soda. This method is perfect for tough stains, such as burnt sugar or caked-on food. Here’s what you need to do to get started:

You will need:

  • Tinfoil
  • Baking soda
  • Hot water
  • Cloth


To get started, make sure you remove any of the leftover food from the pan. Next, you should put 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda in the bottom of the pan and add some hot water. Mix the two components, and you will find that it makes a thick paste. Take the time to cover the entire area of the burnt pan.

Leave the paste for a few minutes. When you have done so, grab some tin foil and screw it up into a ball. The more jagged edges there are here, the better. These are what makes this approach effective when you’re cleaning a burnt pan or even saucepan. Next, use the tin foil ball to start scrubbing the bottom of the pan. You should be as firm as possible while doing this task. When you’re done, rinse well and use a cloth to shine the pan.

There are plenty more uses for tin foil and ways to use baking soda for cleaning - take a look!

Note: Be careful if your pan is made of stainless steel. Using tin foil could scratch the bottom of the pan, which will lead to long-lasting damage. Nobody wants that!

3. Washing-Up Liquid & Hot Water

Milder burn marks require a gentle approach. If you haven’t done too much damage to your pan (check you're not doing these 8 things that ruin non-stick pans), it’s worth taking the traditional route. That means grabbing a bottle of washing-up liquid and going at the pan with some hot water. Whether you’re using a non-stick pan or a steel pan, you should find that this works. Here’s how:

You will need:

  • Washing-up liquid
  • Hot water
  • Cloth


First things first, you need to boil the water. As you are doing so, squeeze some of the washing-up liquid into the bottom of the burnt pan. Leave it to settle for a minute. Next, add the boiling water to the pan and leave the whole thing for a couple of minutes. You want to wait until the water has cooled down so you can get in there.

Grab the cloth and start cleaning the bottom of the plan. This approach tends to work for an array of cooking mistakes. For example, if you have some burnt pasta plaguing the bottom of your steel cookware, this should be your first port of call. You may want to repeat the process a couple of times until the pan truly shines.

4. Baking Soda & Vinegar

Cleaning with vinegar and baking soda is as good as you can get when it comes to traditional methods. If you’re unsure how to clean a burnt saucepan, you may find that this approach works for you. The great news about this method is that you likely already have the things you need in your cupboard. That means that you don’t have to buy any expensive cleaner. If you’re ready to give it a whirl, follow our simple instructions here:

You will need:


Start by putting equal parts water and vinegar into the burnt pan or saucepan. Put the pan on the heat and bring it to the boil. Next, add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda into the mixture. Stir well. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the water to cool for roughly 10-15 minutes. After that, pour the mixture down the drain.

You guessed it… the next step is all about scrubbing. Grab a sponge (or a scouring pad if the burn marks are tough) and get to work. You may want to add some washing up liquid and cool water to get those grease stains off. You should notice that the black burn marks start to disappear and rise to the surface of the water here.

5. The Salt Method

Not got any cleaning products in your cupboard? No problem! There’s a simple solution that you might not have thought of. If you have some salt lying around (and you should if you’re even a half-decent cook!), you can use it to clean your burnt pan in minutes. We can't quite believe how many uses for salt there are! Follow these simple steps to get started:

You will need:

  • Salt
  • Water
  • Sponge


Grab a handful of salt and sprinkle it all over the burnt area on your pan or saucepan. Next, run a clean sponge under some water to make it damp. You should use the sponge to work the salt into the burnt area of the pan. You may need to take several minutes to do this. When you have finished, rinse the pan and take a look.

While there are no studies to support the idea that salt can clean burn marks off steel cookware, anecdotal evidence suggests that it works. It’s worth taking the time to try this one for yourself. Tip: When you have rinsed the salt off the first time, you may want to repeat the whole process. This is important for tricky stains.

TOP TIP: When was the last time you replaced your kitchen sponge? It's one of the 9 surprisingly dirty items in your home

Those are our suggestions for cleaning burnt pans. For even more cleaning hacks to make your pots and pans look good as new, check out our other article. 


What is the best way to clean burnt pans?

As we have covered, there are many ways that you can clean burnt pans at home. The approach you use may depend on the type of cookware that is burnt. For example, a non-stick pan may be easily cleaned using a washing-up liquid and hot water concoction. On the other hand, cast iron pans may need a heavier approach.

How do I get the black stuff off my burnt pan?

Black burn marks can be a real pain. Luckily, one of the easiest ways to get this stuff off your pan is to use a baking soda and vinegar mixture. Soak the pan in this mixture, starting with vinegar and water, and then add the baking soda. Use a sponge to loosen up the black stuff and bring it to the surface.

Why does the bottom of the pan turn black?

When a gas stove is not heating the bottom of your pan equally, you may find that it turns spots black. These are burn marks. If you find that this happens frequently, you may need to use a lower heat.

How do you clean a burnt non-stick frying pan?

Cleaning a non-stick frying pan requires a gentle approach. You can use washing-up liquid and a sponge to get the job done. If this approach doesn’t work for you, you can also try baking soda, water, and a sponge.

Why are my stainless steel pans burning?

If you find your stainless steel pans are regularly burning, you might want to change your cooking approach. Chances are, you are using too much heat or not enough. Try different levels and see what works for you.

Those are our top tips for cleaning burnt pans! Give it a try and let us know how you get on in the comments below. 

Joanne A


Expert in finding beautiful solutions for small and rented spaces. Would happily spend the rest of my life shopping for homewares and watching Disney movies - I only wish I had Cinderella's army of mice to help me clean!

  1. Author Jasmine on February 18, 2022 at 1:05 am

    Dear Jo, Please advise if the Soda Crystal could be used for pan or baking tray with non sticky coating. Thanks very much.

    1. Author Joanne A on March 8, 2023 at 5:36 pm

      Using soda crystals on pans or baking trays with non-stick coatings is not recommended, as it can damage the coating. Instead, use a gentle cleaner designed explicitly for non-stick surfaces to preserve the coating and keep the pan or tray in good condition.


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