5 tricks cleaning professionals use to clean a burnt pot – without elbow grease or breaking a sweat

Burnt pots and pans can be a nightmare to clean. The burnt food residue seems to stick to the bottom and sides no matter how much you scrub and scrape. But cleaning professionals have a few tricks up their sleeves for removing burnt-on grime without excessive elbow grease or effort.

Here are 5 tricks cleaning professionals use to clean a burnt pot – without elbow grease or breaking a sweat:

Trick #1: Let It Soak

One of the easiest tricks is to fill the pot with hot water and let it soak for several hours. The hot water will slowly loosen the burnt food particles and make them easier to remove later.

Professional cleaners recommend adding a tablespoon of dish soap and 1⁄4 cup of vinegar to the hot water before soaking. The acidic vinegar helps break down the burned-on food, while the soap acts as a degreasing agent.

Let the pot soak for at least 2-3 hours, or overnight if possible. The longer you let it sit, the more effective this trick will be. Just place the burnt pot in your sink and cover it with hot water before walking away. Come back later and the grime will wipe away much more easily!

Trick #2: Baking Soda and Vinegar

Another common pantry item cleaning pros use for burnt pots and pans is baking soda. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda directly onto the burnt areas of the pot. You can also make a paste by mixing baking soda with just enough water to form a spreadable consistency.

Coat the burnt food residue with the baking soda paste. Then drizzle some vinegar over top and let it bubble and fizz on the burnt-on bits for 5-10 minutes. The chemical reaction between the baking soda and vinegar helps break down and lift off stubborn, stuck-on grime.

You can also boil a mixture of 1 cup vinegar + 4 Tbsp baking soda + 6 cups water in the pot for 10 minutes. This will scour and de-gunk the entire interior surface.

No heavy scrubbing needed – the baking soda and vinegar do the tough work for you!

Trick #3: Dishwasher Detergent

If you don’t have any baking soda or vinegar on hand, try using plain dishwasher detergent to clean a burnt pot. Apply a generous amount of gel or powder dishwasher detergent directly to the burnt areas. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before rinsing.

The strong detergents in dishwasher formulations are designed to cut through and remove baked-on, dried-on food deposits. Let the detergent soak in and work its magic, then give the pot a quick scrub with a sponge or brush. Burnt bits should rinse away easily after being broken down by the detergent.

For extra cleaning power, you can also let the dishwasher detergent-coated pot soak overnight before rinsing.

Trick #4: Dryer Sheets

Ordinary dryer sheets can be used to clean burnt residue off pots and pans. Simply dampen a couple dryer sheets under the faucet, then use them to gently scrub the burnt areas. The anti-static agents in dryer sheets that help remove lint and prevent cling in the dryer also work to dissolve stuck-on food.

Dryer sheets are abrasive enough to help loosen burnt crusty bits but won’t scratch delicate surfaces like steel or coated nonstick pans. After scrubbing with the sheets, wash the pot normally to rinse away any remaining debris.

Trick #5: Salt or Sand

For a natural, non-toxic scrubbing solution, professional cleaners often use plain table salt or fine white sand. The coarse grains provide just the right amount of gentle abrasion to scour away burnt-on gunk.

Spread a layer of salt or sand completely covering the burnt residue in the pot. Dampen a sponge or scrub brush, then scrub the salty or sandy layer to remove stubborn stuck-on stains. The salt or sand provide the friction needed to lift burnt food without damaging the pot’s surface.

Rinse thoroughly when finished scrubbing. Dry with a clean towel and your burnt pot will look as good as new!

FAQs About Cleaning Burnt Pots and Pans

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about removing burnt, stuck-on grime from pots and pans:

How do you clean a burnt pot without scrubbing?

The best no-scrub methods are to let the pot soak overnight in hot water and dish soap, use baking soda and vinegar, or apply dishwasher detergent and let it sit before rinsing. Time and chemical reactions do the scrubbing for you!

What is the fastest way to clean a burnt pan?

For quick burnt pan cleaning, combine baking soda and vinegar and let the foamy reaction work on the burnt bits for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. The chemical reaction helps dissolve stubborn burnt-on stains.

What removes stuck on burnt food?

Baking soda, vinegar, dish soap, dishwasher detergent, dryer sheets, salt, and sand can all help remove burnt stuck-on food residue. They each use different properties from abrasion to corrosion to dissolve and loosen carbonized grime.

Does Coke remove burnt on food?

Yes – the combination of carbonic and phosphoric acids gives Coke cleaning power against burnt, dried-on food. Pour Coke over the burnt region and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing away. The acids will eat through and dissolve burnt crust.

Can burnt pots and pans be saved?

In most cases, yes – burnt pots and pans can be saved with the right cleaning methods. Even badly burnt pans often have the burnt layers removed with baking soda, detergent, or other abrasive cleaners. However, badly warped or rusted pans may need to be discarded.

What is the best natural cleaner for burnt pans?

For an all-natural burnt pan cleaner, baking soda and vinegar are your best bets. Sprinkle baking soda then drizzle vinegar on burnt areas, let sit, and rinse. The chemical reaction will dissolve even severe crusted burnt-on stains with no harsh chemicals.


Cleaning burnt, stubborn residue from pots and pans no longer requires painfully scrubbing away for hours. With a few tricks – like letting it soak, using baking soda and vinegar, or scrubbing with dryer sheets – you can remove even the worst burnt-on messes without excessive effort.

The next time you have a burnt pot or pan, try one of these cleaning pro tips before breaking out the elbow grease. You may be pleasantly surprised by how easily the stuck-on grime lifts away. No need to avoid burning pans altogether – just remember these tricks so cleanup will be a breeze!