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How To Clean Burnt on Pots With NO Effort

Updated on December 27, 2012

Love to Cook, Hate the Cleanup

Recently, I made polenta. For those of you who are not familiar, it is corn grits. They are an integral part of the recipe for shrimp and grits. The dish turned out fabulously but my pot did not. The recipe will be revealed in another blog, this one will document my journey in getting this pot spic and span.

We were running late for a dinner party so I quickly spooned the polenta into a bowl and soaked the pot in warm water. While cleaning is my least favorite chore, it's typically my daily lot. There's is nothing worse that scraping dried-on food from a pot. But since the maid (me) was busy, I had no choice.

The pot soaked overnight and then I scoured. Still the bottom wouldn't come clean.
The pot soaked overnight and then I scoured. Still the bottom wouldn't come clean.


Typically, soaking any baked-on pan will release the food from the surface making clean up easier. Not this time. I used the abrasive side of my sponge and was able to get only as far as shown in the photo.

Then it dawned on me of a solution that I had heard of a long time ago. I don't remember if it was a Heloise article or just a wise friend. The solution was in my kitchen and I bet it's in yours too.

Such a simple solution: baking soda!
Such a simple solution: baking soda!

the Secret is Baking Soda

Yes, this secret ingredient is in just about every American household. The trick to getting your pot clean is easy. Simply put a few inches of water in the pot and a couple of shakes of baking soda. Put the pot back on the stove and bring to a boil. Let it boil for about three minutes or so, long enough to let the baking soda cook off the leftover food.

Take the pot off the stove and drain the water. Let the pot cool for a couple of minutes before you begin washing so you don't burn yourself or ruin the pot with water that is too cold.

When my pot cooled enough for me to wash it, let me say I was absolutely amazed. The food particles were so loose that they came out mostly with just water. I used the soft end of my sponge to clean the pot. It sparkled beautifully!

Bright and shiny pan! Hooray!
Bright and shiny pan! Hooray!

Try It on Other Pans

The good news about this solution is that it works on all types of food containers. The secret is heat (to a boil) and baking soda. I've done this same process before but instead of the stove top for reheating, I used the microwave. Obviously, this is only for microwave-safe items.

I'd love to hear your success stories...


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    • my_girl_sara profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Lyerly 

      4 years ago from Georgia

      Yes, you'll save yourself a lot of elbow grease with the baking soda. Thanks for the comment!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      4 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I've done this only without the baking soda. Just water on the stove on low simmer seemed to do the trick. Next time I have a really big mess, I'll try the baking soda.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      Very useful hub. I don't do much cooking anymore now that there's only me, but I will certainly keep this strategy in mind.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image


      5 years ago

      That is very interesting. I will have to try that.


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