Friday, March 07, 2014

Good Idea Friday - How To Clean Really Stubborn Pots and Pans

Saving a Ruined Le Creuset Pan : Squidyboo

So as some of you probably know from reading my blog, I am not a baker. At all. In fact my husband has pretty much banned me from using the oven after countless kitchen fires from my attempts at baking. But where as I can't bake, I can cook. Really well I might add.

But even the best cooks make mistakes, and that is how I was faced with a dilemma some time back (which is why this post is lacking photos, sorry!)

You see, I was using one of my beloved Le Creuset pans and ended up burning the risotto terribly. It's bad enough ruining dinner, but the idea I may have ruined a $200 pan was more than I could bare. I tried to clean it best I could by soaking it and using a melamine sponge (Magic Eraser). That barely touched it. I then tried Barkeeper's Friend, which again didn't do much, so I tried straight up baking soda, but the black remained stuck to the bottom of my pan.

So what to do? I spent quite some time doing research and seeing what other sites would recommend. I wanted to be careful not to ruin the pan by cleaning it (so oven cleaner was right out, though that does work on things like uncoated stainless steel just fine)

Well after reading a lot of forums on pan care I found the blog post over at Squidgyboo. Looks like we were in the same boat. She tested out 3 different ways of cleaning her Le Creuset, and had best results with... boiling water and baking soda?

Seriously? How is that going to work when scrubbing the damn thing with baking soda didn't work? But I was desperate and willing to try anything at this point. And wouldn't you knowit, it worked! I took about a half hour of effort, but it worked. I skipped her suggestion of a butter knife since my pan is my baby and I was worried about to ruin it, and went with a wooden spatula (rice paddle, really) instead.

So here's the trick: 

Take your baked on possibly ruined pan or pot and place it on the stove. Add 1-2" of water and bring to a gentle boil. Grab your baking soda and add about 1/2-1 cup. It will fizz. This is good. Take your wood spatula and gently start working the spot or burned on area. After a short time it'll start to flake up. If it stops flaking, add more baking soda. Once the water gets too nasty or stops fizzing when more baking soda is added, dump and start again.

That's it. I have tried this before using just water with mixed results, but I noticed a huge difference once I brought in the baking soda. So go out there and test this on any pans you may think are ruined. And if you have any other great tips on saving baked on, burnt on, pots and pans, let us know! Leave your comments and photos on our facebook or twitter page.


  1. I have tried a similar method that uses less baking soda but also hydrogen peroxide and a bit of dish soap. It works really really well!

  2. Anonymous7/3/14

    Try washing soda--find it at a hardware store or a swimming pool supply store. It's amazing. I've fixed several pots that I thought were trash!

  3. Anonymous15/3/14

    You can also soak the pan with water and dryer sheets overnight. I don't know why but it works!

  4. Anonymous16/3/14

    I always use hot water, baking soda and vinegar. Works like a charm.

  5. I spray oven cleaner on them and let them sit for a bit. Works everytime, Just make sure you do it in a well ventilated area and wash it really well when you are done to get any residue off.

  6. Nice tip, and if I may can I just suggest that you could also try mixing water and ammonia and leaving it to soak in the pots, this should work a treat on hard wearing pots.

  7. Anonymous13/9/15

    Sushi rice. For the lazy and not in a hurry.

    I had a pot with some remaining burned on stuff in the bottom. It had been like that for months, and I quit caring because it clearly wasn't going to come off on my food...

    Until I cooked rice for sushi.

    The rice in the bottom of the pot will stick, you're not meant to scrape it out and use it. Instead of soaking the pot, I got distracted making the food, and left the stuck rice to completely dry to the pot. When I later tried to remove what I could of the dried rice before soaking it, the old black chunks started to come off. A few more batches of rice, my pot was entirely clean.

    It's not quick, as it only takes off thin layers at a time, but it took no extra effort to fix pot I'd already given up on ever getting fully clean again.

  8. I find that putting boiling water in the pan and dropping a dishwasher tablet in works amazingly well!

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