How to Clean a Stainless Steel Pot That the Water Burned Dry In

Getting distracted in the kitchen is an unfortunate occurrence. It happens to the best of us. And it's the pots and pans that tend to pay the price.

stainless steel pot
credit: deepblue4you/iStock/GettyImages
Stainless steel pan burns are a pain, but they aren’t a permanent problem.

If you have left a stainless steel pot on a burner, then there are a few things to do to keep the pot in good use and not simply throw it away. Stainless steel pan burns are a pain, but they aren't a permanent problem.

Whether you have left water boiling too long in the pot or it has become scorched by sitting empty on a burner as you prepare other items to create a favored recipe, a burnt pan doesn't have to be tossed and replaced.

Stainless Steel Pan Burns

Fresh burns on stainless steel pans should be dealt with immediately. The sooner that the pan is pulled from the heat, the less damage the pan will endure. If the pan is hot, use oven mitts to move it under a cold flow of water from the kitchen faucet.

Add a tablespoon of baking soda to the scorched area and make a paste with lemon juice or warm water. Let the paste sit on the surface of the stainless steel pot for a minimum of 15 minutes. Use a nylon scrubber or sponge with a rough scrubbing side to grind the paste into the burnt areas.

Stubborn Stain Removers for Stainless Steel Pots

If the burnt marks continue to rise up and discolor the surface of the stainless steel pot after rinsing, then you will need to attack with a second wave of astringents.

A lemon cut in half with a layer of salt atop its surface can pull up scorched bits from the bottom of the pan. Rub the lemon half covered in salt over the burnt area, grinding the citrus and salt mixture into the pan's areas where the scorch marks are most prevalent.

For thick layers of crunchy residue, cut lemons into quarters and cover the bottom of the scorched pan with a layer of salt. Grind the cut lemons and salt into the bottom of the pan, taking careful aim at the most damaged areas of the pot.

Removing Old Burns on Scorched Pots

For more serious burns that have discolored the pan, bring out the serious cleaners to get down to the base of the pan's metal layer.

A tough scrubber, such as Bar Keepers Friend or Bon Ami, can work wonders. A layer of Borax on the pan's surface can also remove burnt particles, but it will require a thorough washing to remove all traces of the harsh cleaner's presence after scrubbing.

Another option is to mix 1-part of vinegar to 1-part water and a few drops of dish washing liquid. Place it in the pan and turn it on medium-high heat. Let the solution boil in the pan for about 5 to 10 minutes or until all of the burnt patches have lifted from the side of the stainless steel pot. Rinse well and scour with a lemon half and salt to give the pan a gleam.

Place a dryer sheet in the pan, cover it with hot water and let sit for one hour. The baked-in bits of food and grease should rise to the surface and be easily wiped away. Rinse and repeat as necessary.


Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.