How to Clean Burnt Food on Pots & Pans

Every cook, whether a novice or expert, has to clean an occasional pot or pan with burnt-on food. Burnt-on food in your pots or pans happens as a result of cooking food on heat that's too high, overcooking food or not using enough moisture in the pot or pan. Thorough removal of the burnt on food in your pot or pan is important, as burnt-on food will affect the taste of the foods you cook in the future.

Fill your stainless steel pans with enough water to cover the burnt on food stains. Add 1 cup of table salt to the water, mix with a spoon to dissolve the salt and allow the solution to soak for one hour.

Bring the salty solution to a boil if the burnt on food stains don't scrub off after soaking for an hour. Remove the pot or pan from the heat and allow the solution to soak for 12 hours before bringing it to a boil again. Allow the salt-water solution to cool and then scrub with a plastic mesh scrubber to remove the burnt-on food stains.

Cover the bottom of your enamel pot or pan with a thick layer of powdered dishwasher detergent. Place a wet cleaning cloth on top of the powdered detergent and allow it to sit for a few hours. Wash your enamel pan with powdered detergent and enough water to fill the pan, using a wet plastic mesh scrubber to remove the burnt-on food stains.

Remove burnt food from your non-stick pots and pans with a mixture made from 2 tbsp of baking soda, 1 1/2 cups of bleach and 1 cup of water. Bring the bleach solution to a boil for 10 minutes, then dump the solution out and rinse the pan with warm water.

Wash your non-stick cookware with a soapy water made from 1 tsp hand dish washing soap and 1/2 gallon warm water, then dry with a clean cloth. Rub 1 tsp of vegetable oil into the non-stick surface.

Clean burnt food from copper pots and pans by covering the burnt food stain with ketchup. Leave the ketchup to sit on the burnt food stain for 30 minutes, then scrub the ketchup into the burnt food stain using your plastic mesh scrubber. Wash your copper pot or pan in a soapy water solution, then rinse and dry.


Soak a pot or pan immediately when you notice it has burnt food stains. The longer the burnt food sits and dries, the harder it is to remove.


Wash your pot and pan thoroughly with a dish soap and water solution after removing the burnt on food with bleach. This ensures you've fully removed any bleach residue.

Things You'll Need

  • Salt
  • Plastic mesh scrubber
  • Hand dish washing liquid
  • Powdered dishwasher detergent
  • Clean cloths
  • Baking soda
  • Bleach
  • Vegetable oil
  • Ketchup
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.