My Little Trick for Cleaning Scorched Pans (No Soap or Scrubbing Required)

published Apr 5, 2023
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Sink full of dirty dishes.
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

When it comes to kitchen cleanup for my family of seven, I’m all about efficiency. We follow my mom’s five-step cleaning routine that essentially automates our tasks in a streamlined way that my children can chip in on, too. In addition to our simplified, get-the-job-done program, I can’t forget to tackle the bigger items that often take more time to clean.

To be even more efficient with the time allotted to kitchen cleanup, I like to clean our pots and pans while we’re doing something else. This works with the dirtiest and most difficult-to-clean pots and pans — the ones that have food scorched onto them, and the ones you look at and groan

Ready for the mysterious and nearly hands-off method? Leave the dirty cookware on the stove, add water to it, and then let that water boil for a few minutes. The water and the heat work together to dislodge food that you’d otherwise spend a significant amount of time scrubbing by hand. The process is very similar to deglazing, in which you use a liquid to lift the flavorful bits of browned meat or vegetables from the bottom of a pan. 

Once the water and steam have loosened the mess a bit, use a spatula to encourage the scorched bits to lift from the cookware. You’ll be amazed at how easily it comes off! Do this while you’re tending to the other dishes, keeping an eye on the boiling water so it doesn’t boil over, of course. By the time you’re ready to take on your hand-wash items, your job will be far easier than it could have been. 

What’s your best trick for saving time on kitchen cleanup? Sound off in the comments below.