The Secret Ingredient That'll Help Clean A Scorched Pan

Maybe the phone rang while you were frying eggs at breakfast, or you forgot to stir the sauce you were making for dinner — regardless of the reason, you may now be left with a scorched pan that looks beyond saving. Charred food adhered to the bottom of a pan is gross; however, it shouldn't trigger you to trash your favorite skillet. Fortunately, there's a way to bring your burnt cookware back to life. The secret ingredient that'll help clean a scorched pan is a simple dishwasher tablet.

Admittedly, the mere sight of blackened food debris discoloring your favorite pan can be disheartening. Yet, even professional chefs can get sidetracked and burn kitchenware, so you're in good company. Granted, they may have staff on hand to remove stubborn stains, but you can also get oxidized or incinerated bits off the bottom of your cookware without spending countless hours furiously scrubbing and scraping. And this hack doesn't include a dishwasher, either.

While some dishwashing machines come equipped with "heavy duty" or "pots and pans" cycles that use extra water and higher temperatures to tackle cookware, depending on the severity of the burn and the type of material the pan is made of, fancy dishwasher settings alone may not get the job done. Moreover, non-stick pans, as well as those made from cast iron or aluminum, are not dishwasher safe. In the end, your best bet is to clean scorched pans by hand with dishwasher tablets.

How to use a dishwasher tablet to clean a scorched pan

Dishwasher tablets are blocks of pre-measured powdered detergent combined with enzymes and other chemicals designed to dissolve stains and ensure efficient washing and rinsing(via Eurotab). If you aren't in a hurry to get your cookware back in your kitchen, place the scorched pan on the stove, add half a dishwasher tablet and some water, then bring to a boil. Once the soap solution begins to simmer, turn off the heat and allow the pan to sit overnight. The hot water and detergent combination will loosen and lift the food debris while you are sleeping. In the morning, wash and rinse as usual.

When time is a factor, place the charred pan in the sink and rinse under hot water. While the water is running, use a dishwasher tablet to scrub at the cooked-on grime as though it were a sponge. You should see the singed food scraps release from the bottom of the pan. Use the tablet to buff the scorched areas until they dissolve, then rinse the entire pan with warm water.

Another option is to fill a scorched pan with a small amount of water and heat it on the stove on low until the water is hot, but not boiling. Next, remove the pan from the burner and use a dishwasher tablet to scrape away any blackened bits. Once the crispy remnants are eliminated, wash the pan with soapy water and rinse.

Tips for using dishwasher tablets to clean

When wrestling with seriously scorched food, such as fried fish, incinerated mac and cheese, or caked-on baked beans, it's best to use powdered dishwasher tablets for this hack rather than pods filled with liquid dish soap. The coarse texture of the powdered tablet helps erase the blackened blemishes, while the gel version will simply disintegrate. As you rub the powdered dishwasher tablet on the affected areas, it will begin to reduce in size, especially when it comes into contact with water. However, it will remain intact long enough for you to remove the majority of the charred bits. If the stains are extremely burnt-on, you may have to use another tablet to finish the job.

In addition, there's no need to remove the plastic coating surrounding dishwasher tablets prior to using them on scorched pans. The biodegradable film holds the tablet together and will eventually dissolve on its own as it's exposed to water. The petroleum-based coating also allows the tablet to resist crumbling as you rotate it in various directions during the cleaning process. What's more, the tablet may become discolored as you use it to rub away burnt bits. This does not indicate that you need to swap out for a new one; rather, keep using the same detergent tablet until it completely crumbles.