How To Bring Your Burnt Cookware Back To Life

Even if you're an expert in the kitchen who can whip up complex dishes without breaking a sweat, there's a good chance you've burned something at one point, per The Spruce. After all, sometimes it just takes a single distraction, or a few minutes' delay as you tend to the other elements of your dish. Suddenly, you're met with the unwelcome sight of a pot or pan with an unappealing black crust or scorch marks on the bottom that you immediately dread attempting to scrub off.

Before you despair — or toss out that pot or pan, assuming it's a lost cause — take a look at these 15 tips for bringing that burnt cookware back to life. From hacks that require a little elbow grease to effortless solutions, to tips that involve common ingredients you likely have at home already, to methods that may require a quick trip to the store, you'll have your cookware sparkling in no time.

Boil vinegar and baking soda

Vinegar and baking soda is often a go-to cleaning solution for a variety of messes, and for good reason: It's an effective and budget-friendly powerhouse of a duo. All you need for this tip, as Apartment Therapy outlines, is to add a cup or so of vinegar to your burnt cookware and bring it to a boil. Then, once the vinegar has done its job, add in 1 tablespoon or 2 of baking soda and scrub away. The baking soda acts as an abrasive agent, helping to get rid of the burn marks.

Scrub with salt

Even the most novice of cooks likely has salt in their kitchen. And while it typically functions as a way to flavor your food, it can also work as an effective abrasive agent to deal with that burnt cookware, as HGTV explains. Ideally, you want to use a coarse variety of salt such as kosher salt, and then just pour into your cool pan and scrub away. You can just use the salt solo, or you can also help the process along by adding some dish soap.

Scour with cream of tartar

While not the most common ingredient you could have in your pantry, if you happen to have cream of tartar on hand, it's a great item to reach for when battling burnt cookware, as per Food52. It works for two main reasons: First, it's acidic, which can help if your scorch marks are paired with any burned-on food. Second, it's abrasive, which is great for scouring. For ease, you may want to combine it with water or vinegar until you create a paste-like mixture that you can then use to scrub your cookware.

Wash with dryer sheets

The laundry room may not be the first place you go in search of cleaning solutions for the kitchen, but before you give up on your burnt cookware, try reaching for a dryer sheet. As The Spruce explains, for this method, you just add a dryer sheet to your cookware, fill it with hot water, and then give it an hour to work its magic. Then, just scrub at the burnt mess like you normally would — you'll likely find it a whole lot easier to deal with. Plus, the pleasant aroma of the dryer sheet certainly doesn't hurt!

Soak with Alka-Seltzer

Step aside, indigestion! Alka-Seltzer has a variety of uses, and might be just the ticket to get that burnt cookware sparkling again, as The Spruce suggests. Just combine hot water and a few Alka-Seltzer tablets in your damaged pot or pan, and leave the entire mess for about an hour. At that point, you can scrub away at the burnt-on debris using your usual dish soap, hot water, and elbow grease. The citric acid in the Alka-Seltzer tablets is the secret ingredient in this solution.

Soak with soda water

If you've spotted your mistake immediately and your burned cookware is still hot, try reaching for a can or bottle of soda water, if you have it on hand. As HGTV explains, you can pour the beverage into the pan, and the carbonation should help pry that burned on mess away from the bottom of your cookware, allowing you to more easily scrub it all out and return the cookware to its original glory.

Use ketchup

We're betting that slathering your burnt cookware in ketchup is just about the last solution that would come to mind, but according to Food52, ketchup is a total star at dealing with damaged cookware. Simply grab that bottle of ketchup nestled in amidst all your condiments, and coat the bottom of your cookware with a layer. Wait about 30 minutes to an hour, and then clean it out. The acetic acid found in ketchup will have worked hard so that you don't have to.

Boil with lemons

Thanks to their acidity and pleasing aroma, lemons can be an incredible natural addition to your cleaning arsenal, and can be used in just about every room of the house — including the kitchen. To use their cleaning power on your burnt cookware, simply cut two or three lemons into quarters or halves, add them to a few inches of water, and allow it to boil away for anywhere from five to 10 minutes, as Kitchn instructs. Then, as usual, just scrub any remaining mess from your cookware. This method is great for those who prefer to avoid chemicals.

Treat with Bar Keepers Friend

If you have a container of this powerful cleaning product at home somewhere, perhaps from another disastrous mess you've tackled, you may want to consider trying it out to fix your burnt cookware. As per Taste of Home, Bar Keepers Friend is a quick and effective solution. And, a plus for impatient cooks, it doesn't require an hour of waiting around — just coat the bottom of your cookware with a layer of Bar Keepers Friend, wait for a single minute, then rinse and scrub. You'll likely want to clean the cookware extra thoroughly before using it to prepare food, though.

Scrub with baking soda and aluminum foil

Tackle your burnt cookware with two common items you very likely have at home already, as Taste of Home suggests: baking soda and aluminum foil. This solution works because of the double abrasive power of the ingredients. Make a baking soda and hot water paste mixture, coat your burnt cookware, and then use the aluminum foil as a sort of scrubber to scour the pan. You can toss the foil when you're done, and you won't risk ruining any of your regular scouring tools — it's a win win.

Soak with dish soap

If you've tried scrubbing your burnt cookware with dish detergent to no avail, you may have just not given it enough time, as per Bob Vila. To tackle particularly stubborn messes, combine your detergent with very hot water, and allow the cookware to soak for a period of time — 30 minutes to an hour, ideally — before you try to scrub it. You may find you have a bit more success than when just using the dish detergent without the soaking process.

Use boiling water

Sometimes, the solution to your issue is easier than you might think, as is the case with this hack for reviving your burnt cookware. As Bob Vila recommends, you just need to fill your damaged cookware with enough water that any burnt bits are completely covered; the exact amount will depend on the size of your cookware. Then, allow heat to tackle the issue, leaving that water at a rolling boil for five to seven minutes before allowing it to cool. Then try to scour the now-softened bits.

Boil with hydrogen peroxide

Head to your medicine cabinet for this particular hack, which involves a simple yet powerful ingredient: hydrogen peroxide, which Food52 claims does a great job at removing stains from your cookware. Increase the effectiveness of the hydrogen peroxide by introducing heat into the equation, bringing about 1/2 inch of hydrogen peroxide to a boil (again, the exact amount will depend on the size of your cookware, enough to cover the burnt area). Then let it simmer for 10 minutes or so.

Boil with Coca Cola

No, the cleaning capability of Coca Cola isn't an old wives' tale — the popular soft drink is actually pretty incredible at dealing with various messes, including burnt cookware, as Treehouse explains. All you need to do is crack open a can or bottle of Coke, pour it into the burnt cookware you're trying to rescue, and bring it to a boil. The one caveat is that you'll want to be careful about is the type of cookware you use this tip for, as it's not ideal for enamel pots and pans.

Use rice

If the idea of using chemicals to clean out your burnt cookware doesn't appeal to you, another organic solution you can try is a simple combination of rice, water, and heat, as Treehouse suggests. Just fill your cookware with water, and add in a small amount of rice. Then, bring it all to a boil, and watch as that starchy substance clings to the burnt mass, hopefully helping to dislodge it and make the pot far easier to clean.