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 to clean a burnt pot or pan. 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.

Resources for this project:
Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.More info
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 29 questions
  • Wilda Wilda on Feb 13, 2019

    Pan cleaned after burnt. Still discolored. Will this make the pot shine again? How do you get the sides to shine?

  • Sarah Lopez Sarah Lopez on Oct 17, 2019

    Can you use limes as a replacement for lemons?

  • Lin Kisslinger Lin Kisslinger on Feb 19, 2020

    what about using it on other surfaces of pots and pans?

Join the conversation
2 of 183 comments
  • 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!

  • Patty Patty on Feb 15, 2022

    Thanks so much for the tips. I'm sure it'll come in handy.