Sick Burn! 3 Ways to Clean That Nasty-Looking Scorched Pan

by Lauren Leazenby
a dirty and burnt pay sits on a stove with the words  How to clean a scorched pan  in front of the pan

How to Clean a Scorched Pan at a Glance

  • Method 1: Boil vinegar, scrub with baking soda
  • Method 2: Boil or scrub with lemons
  • Method 3: Clean tarnish with ketchup

It happens. Maybe you walked away (for just a moment) while dinner was cooking, or perhaps you set the heat way too high for scrambled eggs. Either way, it seems like a waste of money to throw away a pan just because it’s burned beyond all recognition. Cue infomercial voice: “There’s gotta be a better way!”

This May Also Interest You: How to Clean Your Cast-Iron Skillet Like an Old-Timey Pro

Luckily, there is. Here are three different ways to salvage a scorched pan. (Note: These tips are great for most pans, but if you need to clean cast iron, try the link above.)

The Tried and True

1. Add Vinegar

Ah, yes: The wonder solution. If you take nothing else away from this, know that vinegar can be used to clean just about everything in your kitchen. Pour some vinegar into the scorched pan and turn the heat on. Let the vinegar come to a boil.

Vinegar works great for stainless and aluminum pans. For nonstick or enameled cookware, boil water instead of vinegar so you don’t damage the finish.

2. Rinse

Carefully pour the boiling vinegar down the drain and rinse the pan with water.

3. Add Baking Soda

Add baking soda to the hot pan and make sure to cover the bottom. You don’t want to scratch the pan too much, so use something like a plastic scraper or wooden spoon to scrub the pan clean. This may require a little elbow grease. Whatever was burned to the bottom should start to come off.

4. Rinse & Repeat

Throw the baking soda in the trash and rinse the pan until it’s clean. You’ll probably want to give it a good wash to make sure there’s no residue left. If you still have stuck-on bits, repeat the whole process.

When Life Gives You Lemons …

1. Boil Them

This is one of the Kitchn’s tested methods. Cut two or three lemons into quarters and boil them in water in the scorched pan. Let them boil until you see some of the burnt-on bits start to float to the surface. Toss the lemons and use a scraper to remove what’s left.

Bonus: The citrus scent will cover up the smell of whatever you just burned.

2. Scrub With Them

This method can be used in lieu of a scraper. Sprinkle baking soda on the surface of the pan. Then use a fresh quartered or halved lemon to scrub. The bubbly acid-base reaction will help lift stubborn food particles. Rinse and wash your pan.

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Bring on the Condiments

1. Add Ketchup

Yep, you read that right. According to HGTV, the acidity in ketchup makes it great at removing the tarnish that’s left after you scrape away the burnt-on food. Try one of the other methods to remove the debris, then follow up with a thin layer of ketchup.

2. Vanish Tarnish

Leave the ketchup on the pan for 15 minutes, then wipe it clean. Your pan should look good as new (hopefully).

See some of these tips in action by watching the video below.

Since we’re all home now more than ever, being prepared for unexpected home repairs with a plan from HomeServe is important. Having a plan in place gives you peace of mind knowing that you can simply call our 24/7 repair hotline for covered breakdowns. See what plans are available where you live.