Lamb Roast going into oven
Kitchen Cleaning

How to Clean Dirty Pots and Pans

If you cook often, you’ll need to know how to wash burnt pots & pans. Find out the best methods to get food stains off your cookware!

Knowing how to clean burnt pots and pans is useful, as pots and pans see daily use and food stains are common. There is always a price to pay for cooking up a delicious meal at home – in most cases it’s that you have to wash up all the dishes and cooking utensils yourself! Of course, it’s an necessary process after preparing and eating a meal, but it’s still a nuisance, and it often takes far too long too scrub off any traces of burnt-on food from the bottom of pans! Although you’re unlikely to ever look forward to washing up time, the tips below on how to clean pots and pans are sure to help you get your cooking equipment shining like new.

Strategy 1: Cleaning Burnt Pots and Pans Through Soaking

To be fully prepared for any kind of stain or dirt residue on your metalware, make sure you have all of the following items on standby in your kitchen cupboard:

  • Scrubbers & cleaning pads
  • Sponges & cloths
  • Dishwashing liquid – Vim Liquid Lemon is particularly effective
  • Grease remover
  • Rubber gloves – be sure to protect your hands!

When you attempt to clean burnt pot stains, the key to victory is patience. If you soak the pan for long enough, the stain will loosen and become easier to remove with a scrubber. Naturally, the looser the stain, the less work is required to get it all off completely.

  1. Fill the pot or pan with hot water (enough water to submerge the burnt areas) and a squirt of a good quality liquid dishwashing detergent, and then wait for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. If the stain is proving tricky to dislodge, replace the tepid water with more hot water and dishwashing liquid, and leave for longer.
  3. Scrub a bit off, then refill the pan, and repeat as necessary until all the black bits have been removed from the surface. Use a non-scratch scrubber to remove the burnt food and always be careful when scrubbing, to avoid scratching pans.

Strategy 2: How to Clean Pans Using a Degreaser

What if an hour of soaking isn’t enough to remove the food? The next step up is to replace the everyday dishwashing liquid with an oven or kitchen grease remover. Something like Cif Cream Lemon is a good choice, as it sits on surfaces without running off.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the side of the bottle. Most grease cleaners should be:

  • Applied directly onto the stain
  • Left for 5 minutes (this gives them enough time to attack the build-up)
  • Scrubbed
  • Rinsed off thoroughly with warm water.

Alternative grease removers, like lemon juice, vinegar and baking soda, might also work at breaking down those food stains but they can be unreliable. Homemade cleaning solutions should always be tested on a small, inconspicuous area first.

 Strategy 3: Cleaning Burnt Pots and Pans by Freezing Them

When soaking and scrubbing isn’t extreme enough to tackle tough grease, you can try a more unusual method: put your pan in the freezer. Leave there for a few hours, remove it, and give it a scrub – you’ll be surprised at how much easier the frozen bits of food are to get off!

Try these strategies for yourself and see the wonders a dishwashing liquid, a degreaser, or a freezer can work for your burnt pans!

Top Tip


It’s a good idea to put your dirty pans to soak as soon as you have finished cooking with them. If burnt bits are left to dry out in the air, they become even tougher to get off.