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, sometimes your cookware needs extra hands-on time to get clean. With the help of baking soda, you can tackle tough stains on your hard-working pots and pans. 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 any that's old or expired).

How Often to Clean Pots and Pans with Baking Soda

Because baking soda is non-abrasive, you can use it any time your pots and pans need a thorough cleaning. This can be as often as every time you use them, or you can reserve this method for the most stubborn, stuck-on food and stain situations.

What You Need

Supplies

  • Baking soda
  • Wooden spoon
  • Dry towels or cloths
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon
  • Non-stick safe nylon scrubbing brush

How to Clean Enameled Pots

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. Boil Water

    Fill the pot or pan with about 1 quart of water, or more, if necessary to cover the burned area. Bring the water to a boil on medium heat.

  2. Add Baking Soda

    Add two tablespoons of baking soda, then stir with a wooden spoon. Let the mixture simmer for several minutes.

  3. Scrape the Pan

Dump out the pot and rinse the pan with warm water, then dry.

How to Clean 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. Cover the Bottom

    Turn the pan upside down, and sprinkle baking soda all over the copper bottom. Pour vinegar over the bottom of the pan.

  2. Scrub With a Lemon

    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.

  3. Rinse and Dry

Rinse the pan thoroughly, then dry it with a cloth.

How to Clean 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. Create a Paste

    Cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of water. Sprinkle baking soda liberally over the water to create a thin paste.

  2. Rest, Rinse, and Wash

    Let the pan sit for several hours, then rinse and wash the pan.

  3. Remove Stubborn Stains

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 scrubbing brush.

How to Clean Roasting Pans

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

  1. Sprinkle the Surface

    Sprinkle the surface generously with baking soda.

  2. Create Fizz

    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 a kids' volcano demonstration).

  3. Soak and Scrape

    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 and Rinse

Wash the pan with straight baking soda and a scrubbing brush, then rinse.

How to Clean Burned Pans

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

  1. Make a Paste

    Cover the bottom of the pan with baking soda and add water to make a thin pasty solution.

  2. Heat the Pan

    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 and Wipe

Wait for the solution to cool and wipe or scrub the pot to remove the burned-on food.

How to Clean Cookie Sheets

It doesn't take long for new cookie sheets to start looking like the old ones in the back of the cabinet with brown stains that don't come off no matter how hard you scrub. 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.
clean with baking soda
Illustration: © The Spruce, 2018

Tips to Keep Your Pots and Pans Clean Longer

You should always allow pots and pans to cool before washing them; particularly hot stainless steel cookware can warp if submerged or splashed with cold water. Avoid using steel wool, scouring pads, oven cleaners, bleach, or strong abrasive cleaners—all of these can scratch your cookware. Thoroughly dry your pans immediately after cleaning them to prevent water spots and white dried calcium spots from developing.