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18 Mar 2022

Watch: What's the easiest way to clean a burnt saucepan?

Being stuck with a burnt saucepan with baked-on stains that seemingly won't shift no matter how hard you scrub is a kitchen nightmare we've all faced.

When the cleaners in your kitchen cabinet aren't working, a quick Google might lead you to try baking soda, lemon juice, dishwasher tablets or even a dryer sheet as potential stain-busting saviours.

We recently scorched baked beans in saucepans so we could try out each of these household hacks and find out which works the best.

There was one method that stood out for us. Watch our video above or read on to try it out for yourself.

Find out which of our best saucepans has the best non-stick coating and is the easiest to clean.

Five steps to an easy stain-free saucepan

1) Fill the saucepan with enough water to cover the burnt bits.

2) Drop in a dishwasher tablet.

3) Put the pan back onto a medium heat and let the water simmer for 10 minutes.

4) Rinse out and wipe away any residue with a soft sponge.

5) Wash as normal and find a sparkling saucepan achieved with relatively little elbow grease.

We used a Fairy Platinum Plus All in One dishwasher tab in our test, which makes this method cost approx 40p per burnt saucepan cleaned.

As using a whole dishwasher tablet for a single dirty pan isn't terribly good for the planet or your wallet, we'd recommend using this method only as a last resort when you've got a really stubborn patch of burnt food you just can't seem to shift that might mean you have to chuck the pan away.

Find the best dishwasher tablets to keep your cookware and china spic and span.

Burnt saucepan solutions that work but need more elbow grease

These are the other methods we tried in order of success. They did all work for us eventually, but they needed much more scrubbing than the dishwasher tablet method.

burnt food before and after with dryer sheet

Dryer Sheets

How to do it: Put a few drops of washing up liquid into the pan and cover with a few inches of hot tap water. Completely submerge a dryer sheet in the water and leave for an hour.

Did it work? To our surprise, this method proved very effective on the areas of the stain the dryer sheet touched. These areas came away with a rinse, but the rest of the burned food needed a lot of elbow grease and rigorous scrubbing to fully remove.

Our verdict: At about 8p a go it's certainly worth trying and is brilliant for smaller patches of burnt food residue. But as with the dishwasher tablet, it's not great for the planet.

burnt food before and after with lemons


How to do it: Cut up three lemons and simmer in the pan for around 10 minutes on a medium heat.

Did it work? This method works but we did need to do quite a bit of scrubbing to finish the job the lemons had started.

Our verdict: While it's arguably more sustainable than using a dishwasher tablet, this method is one of the pricier ones, at around 90p a go, and feels like a waste of three perfectly good lemons.

burnt food before and after with baking soda, salt

Baking soda, salt and vinegar

How to do it: Use equal parts baking soda, salt and vinegar (we used 50g/50ml of each) to make a paste and cover all of the burnt bits with it. Then leave it to work for around 10 minutes. Repeat if necessary.

Did it work? This was the least effective household hack we tried. While it did work, we had to do it twice. Each time there were fewer burned bits left but we still had to do a serious bit of scrubbing at the end and even after that the pan wasn't left looking new.

Our verdict: Costing roughly 42p per attempt and needing more than one go when we tried it, we'd not recommend this as your first choice if you have the option to try a different hack.

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Can you put saucepans in the dishwasher?

person using dishwasher

Makers of most modern saucepans will claim they are dishwasher safe but we'd still recommend you wash non-stick saucepans by hand if you can.

The high-temperature water used inside a dishwasher can wear down non-stick coatings over several washes.

How to load your dishwasher and what's dishwasher safe