The Easiest Way to Clean a Burnt Pot or Pan

3 Materials
10 Minutes

I hate doing the, REALLY hate it. But there's one thing that makes doing the dishes truly unbearable and that's when food gets burnt to the bottom of a pan. Instead of fighting and scraping the pan til it's spotless, here's my favorite method for cleaning burnt food on stainless steel pots and pans. All it takes is a few cut up lemons and water. The acid in the lemon and the boiling water get off all the really tough gunk, plus the lemons get rid of any burnt smell and replace it with a sweet citrus scent.

Here's a pot that has been burnt to heck. You don't even want to know what I was trying to cook! Let's just say that I needed a super powered cleaner, and a fresh scent would definitely help.

Step 1: Chop Up Two Lemons

I cut my lemons into eights, but you can cut them into quarters or slices, as long as you end up with enough pieces to cover the bottom of the pan.

Step 2: Add Water

I added enough water to cover the whole burnt bottom of the pan. It's no use trying to cover the lemons - they float! As long as the burnt area is covered, the lemons will do their job.

Step 3: Bring to a Boil

I brought the water to a rolling boil. You can even see the burnt specks coming off the bottom of the pot as the lemons swam around.

Step 4: Let Water Cool & Dump It Out

After I dumped out the lemons and dirty water, I was left with a thin brown layer on the bottom of the pot. All I had to do was scrub it lightly with a brush, and all the leftover grime fell away.

Step 5: Rinse out Your Pot

A few rinses later, and my crud-caked pot was good as new! Now, wasn't that easier than scrubbing with steel wool til your fingers are raw?

It's hard to believe, but that really is the same pot! This is one magic trick I will definitely be doing again.

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  • Frances Anderson Frances Anderson on Feb 26, 2021

    I tend to buy concentrate fabric softener pour it into the pan leave to soak over night then a quick heat up in morning and burn bits peel off... also have used Coca Cola soak over night same idea it’s scary how easy it is to get off using things we eat and drink or use on our skin lol but anything with citric acid works too

  • Jennifer Warren Jennifer Warren on Apr 22, 2021

    So I put a double batch of pear jam on the stove, brought it up to a boil and then walked away, thinking I had turned the burner off (I didn't). 5+ hours later my stainless steel pan had a good 2 inches of rock solid, lava like char on it. It's very very rare that I burn anything, but this was a doozy. Your method worked. I did add a bit of vinegar and Dawn dishwashing soap. Thank you so much for sharing this pan saving information!