It Happens: Here's Everything You Need to Know to Clean a Burnt Pot

Hanging pots and pans

 Getty Images / Carlina Teteris

Even the best home cooks have experienced a scorched pot at least a few times in their life. Either due to an error or simply the nature of the recipe, sometimes stainless steel pots and pans get burnt and there's nothing your dishwasher can do to help. But have no fear: If you've turned your glistening stainless steel pot into a tarnished mess, there is an easy way to bring it back to life.

This task will require a bit of trial and error depending on how bad your stain is, but it shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes to complete. Here's everything you need to know to clean a burnt pot.

Materials Needed to Clean a Burnt Pot

  • Bar Keepers Friend
  • Baking soda
  • Aluminum foil
  • White vinegar
  • A dishwasher tablet

Remember, you won't need to use all of the following methods depending on the severity of the burn. Click through to learn how to bring your pan back to life.

Start With the Vinegar Method

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To try one of the easiest DIY methods, reach for one of the most versatile ingredients in your kitchen: a cup of vinegar. Simply add a cup of water and a cup of vinegar to your pot and bring to a boil. Once it's boiling, remove it from the heat and add two tablespoons of baking soda.

Dump the liquid and use a scouring pad to scrub the pot until all the bits and particles have come off. This method should take just under 30 minutes and is best for light to medium burns.

Left with grime? Make a paste with the baking soda and vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing to remove any remaining particles.

Use a Dishwasher Tablet

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This is a great method if you only have a dishwasher tablet on hand. To start, fill your pot with about an inch of water and place it on low heat. Once it's just slightly warm, remove it from the heat and using a dishwasher tablet, scrape the bottom of the pan.

Think of the tablet as a heavy-duty sponge. If the tablet has a wrapper, remove it and make sure to use the cleaner directly on your burnt pan. Make sure to use rubber gloves to protect your hands.

If you're short on time, this method is one of the quickest. You can generally remove medium to heavy burns in under ten minutes with a tablet.

Use Aluminum Foil

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This method is our favorite on the list and is a great one if you've tried other cleaners that haven't quite worked. To start, cover the burnt area with baking soda and add enough water to create a paste. Using a handful of aluminum foil, scrub the tarnished area until you start to dissolve the particles. Within a few minutes, you should begin to see the burnt pieces break away.

While you do have to scrub with this method, you shouldn't have to apply too much pressure—just enough to dislodge any remaining bits. Once you've removed all of the stain, rinse your pot clean with warm water and soap and allow it to dry.

Try a Cleaning Product

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Cathie Hong Interiors

A heavy-duty cleaning product like Bar Keepers Friend offers a simple, one-step solution to many burns and stains. This cookware cleaner can be used on materials such as stainless steel, copper, and porcelain and can even work outside of your kitchen. It works to help pull up set-in stains and restore your cookware back to normal.

A cleaner such as Bar Keepers Friend can easily handle burns, but it can also tackle other impossible stains such as hard water blemishes and even mold.

How to Prevent Future Burns

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Half Baked Harvest 

Now that you've mastered how to clean a burnt pot, it's time to understand how to prevent it the next time. The first step is to really understand your cookware and try to note where your pan gets the hottest and where it stays cooler (and rarely burns).

Don't add any fats to your pot until the cookware is fully heated; this will help keep your food from burning.

Once you've identified where your pot gets the hottest, make sure to never let food sit there. Try to stir or shake your pan while you are sautéing or frying to ensure your food doesn't linger on a hot spot. This will not only allow for a more evenly cooked meal, but it will help prevent those scorched pans in the future.

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