How to clean a burnt pan using salt, cola, baking soda – and other techniques

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  • Hit cooking shows such as Masterchef have given us a little more confidence in the kitchen. But, while our nearest and dearest may be thriving after being treated to dinner party soiree after dinner party soiree, our pan sets are likely to be flailing under the pressure of constant use.

    Yep, that one-pot dish may look delightful once it’s served onto a plate but what it invariably leaves behind is a trail of disaster on the bottom of our pans. Think charred, encrusted food remains that would test even the most sturdy of scourers.

    Related: the best saucepan sets for avid chefs or beginner recipe followers

    While we can’t help you avoid the nightmare of a scorched pan in the first place, we do know how to clean a burnt pan and get it looking if not good as new, then close to it! So before you consign your burnt pan to the rubbish heap, why not try giving the bottom of your pan a new lease of life using one of the ingenious cleaning tips below?

    How to clean a burnt pan

    White kitchen with gas hob

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme

    ‘Burnt stains can make the best cookware look dirty and worn out, so doing a deep-clean is essential from time to time advises Cleaning expert, Heather Barrigan from MyJobQuote.

    1. How to clean a burnt pan with liquid soap and boiling water

    ‘For scorched pans, add several drops of liquid soap into the pan filled with boiling water’ advises Heather.

    • ‘Boil for 10 minutes, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool completely before scrubbing with the abrasive side of a sponge.’
    • ‘For burnt pans, add lemon before boiling to lift stains off steel and enamel. With cast iron or copper pans, do not use lemon as this could corrode the pan.’
    • ‘Rinse and spray cooking oil to the surface of your pan to fill in the pores and create a smooth, non-stick surface.’

    2. How to clean a burnt pan with salt

    You can pick up 750g of table salt for under 50p, and as well adding seasoning to your favourite meals, this bargain product can also bring a whole lot to your pan-cleaning repertoire. It works best with a pan that has light burn marks on the edges/bottom.

    • Sprinkle a generous amount of salt into the centre of your pan
    • Use a wet sponge to work the salt into the affected areas
    • Repeat this process as and when needed

    Another bizarre hack for burnt pans using salt has also proved a hit on the internet. It’s said to be great for any burnt marks on pan sides, created as a result of sauce/stews/soups spilling over.

    Simply grab a large potato, cut in half, pour salt on the cut side and rub it into the burn marks. And voilà, your pan should be gleaming.

    Kitchen induction hob with stainless steel pans

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Richard Gadsby

    3. How to clean a burnt pan with baking soda

    You’ll be amazed at the shine you can achieve using this tip. You may even be able to see your own reflection in your pan if all goes to plan! You’ll also need some vinegar and a scourer to hand.

    • Fill your pan with water until the bottom is just covered
    • Add one cup of vinegar
    • Bring this solution to the boil and remove from the heat
    • Add 2 tbsp of baking soda and leave to work into the mixture for a few minutes until it starts to fizz
    • Wash the pan and use a scourer to scrub away any remaining burnt bits

    4. How to clean a burnt pan with a dryer sheet

    Dryer sheets can do more than adding a pleasing scent and softness to your laundry. They’re also just the thing to freshen up your burnt pan.

    • Add a few drops of washing-up liquid to the pan
    • Cover with a few inches of hot water
    • Place a dryer sheet over the water then press down so it is completely submerged
    • Leave to soak for an hour
    • Wash the pan out and as with no.2 scrub away any remaining burnt bits
    White kitchen with utility area with washing machine and dryer

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    5. How to clean a burnt pan with cola

    If you’ve got a spare can of Coke or two lying around – or maybe the dregs of a bottle that’s gone flat – then why not crack it open and put it to use for cleaning?

    • Fill your pan with Coke, just a few inches
    • Leave to soak for a few hours
    • Use a scraper to remove any fat/burnt food/residue

    With these top tips you will have your pans sparkling in no time, ready for your next cooking venture.

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