How to Clean Pans With Baking Soda

A person washing a dirty frying pan
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Whether you run your pots and pans through a dishwasher or hand wash them yourself, you know that sometimes pots and pans need extra hands-on time to get them clean. With the help of baking soda, you can tackle tough stains on your hard-working cookware. This is also a great use for old baking soda that's done its job deodorizing your fridge (since you don't want to cook or bake with that old, expired baking soda).

Cleaning Enameled Pots With Baking Soda

Porcelain-enameled cast iron cookware, such as Le Creuset, has a seemingly bulletproof, relatively non-stick surface, but it can get crusty like any other type of pan. The secret to removing stubborn buildup is boiling water with baking soda.

  1. Fill the pot or pan with about 1 quart of water, or more, if necessary to cover the burned area.
  2. Bring the water to a boil on medium heat.
  3. Add two tablespoons of baking soda, then stir with a wooden spoon.
  4. Let the mixture simmer for several minutes.
  5. Scrape the pan with the spoon to loosen stuck food. If it's not coming clean easily, wait a few more minutes, then scrape again.
  6. Dump out the pot and rinse the pan with warm water, then dry.

Shining Copper Bottoms on Pots and Pans

Return the copper bottoms of your pots and pans to their shiny selves using baking soda, vinegar, and a half lemon.

  1. Turn the pan upside down, and sprinkle baking soda all over the copper bottom.
  2. Pour vinegar over the bottom of the pan.
  3. Use a half lemon as a "scrub brush" to scrub all over the bottom of the pan. Scrub up along the sides, too, as needed.
  4. Rinse the pan thoroughly, then dry it with a cloth.
clean with baking soda
Illustration: © The Spruce, 2018

Cleaning Non-Stick Frying Pans

Non-stick frying pans can benefit from a mixture of baking soda and water to remove lingering food smells and flavors. Baking soda also works as a mild abrasive to help clean stubborn stains and scorched oil.

  1. Cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of water.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda liberally over the water to create a thin paste.
  3. Let the pan sit for several hours, then rinse and wash the pan.
  4. Remove stubborn stains on non-stick pans by boiling a solution of 4 tablespoons baking soda and 1/2 cup water in the pan. Let the pan cool, then rinse, and scrub the stain with straight baking soda and a non-stick-safe nylon scrubbie.

Renewing Roasting Pans

Clean any roasting pan with stuck-on food using baking soda, water, and vinegar.

  1. Sprinkle the surface generously with baking soda.
  2. Combine 1 cup of hot water and 1/3 cup of vinegar and pour the solution into the pan. The baking soda and vinegar will fizz for a moment (like the kids' volcano demonstration).
  3. Let the pan soak for a few hours, then scrape the surface with a spatula or other suitable scraper, and continue to soak.
  4. Wash the pan with straight baking soda and a scrubbie, then rinse.

Tackling Burned Pans

Everyone who has ever burned a pan knows how hard it is to clean off the scorch mark. Next time this happens, cook off the burn with baking soda and water.

  1. Cover the bottom of the pan with baking soda and add water to make a thin pasty solution.
  2. Heat the pan on the stove until it comes to a boil, then remove it from the heat. (You don't want to burn it again!)
  3. Wait for the solution to cool and wipe or scrub the pot to remove the burned-on food.

Making Cookie Sheets Look Like New

It doesn't take long for new cookie sheets to start looking like the old ones in the back of the cabinet. That brown stain that doesn't come off no matter how hard you scrub seems to come from nowhere. Return your cookie sheets to gleaming perfection with a thick paste with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

  1. Mix baking soda with a small amount of ordinary household hydrogen peroxide to create a thick paste.
  2. Apply the paste all over the stained area of the cookie sheet.
  3. Wait 2 hours.
  4. Rub off the paste with a cloth or sponge. No heavy scrubbing is necessary. If any stain remains, rub it with your fingers it should come right off.
  5. Flip the cookie sheet over and repeat the process on the bottom side. 
  6. Wash and dry the cookie sheet, as usual.