“Unstick” burnt pots and pans with cola

Lisa's kitchen cleanup hack:coke.jpg

I saw this tip on TV in Ireland years ago. It comes in handy when I've attempted to cook while dealing with a colicky 2 month-old.

I hate scrubbing burnt pots and pans. So pour some cola (bubbly coca-cola works best) into the pan and bring it to the boil. Use a scrubbing brush to stir the cola and the burnt on food comes right off. It's a strong enough acid to clean the pan but mild enough to not damage any non stick coating.

Hm. Acid. I wonder if a mild lemon juice or vinegar solution would work as well? It would certainly be cheaper. A little kitchen chemistry anyone?

More: Parent Hacks for your home

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  1. Becky C. says

    Vinegar and coke have about the same pH (~3), but I’m wondering if it’s the carbonation factor that helps “lift” burned on food.
    However, I would be hesitant to do this with anything with a non-stick coating (but I guess that technically shouldn’t be a problem with non-stick, right? right?)

  2. Jessica says

    No need to use anything special. The same method with plain water and a little dish soap works just fine. I usually scrape the bottom a bit with a spatula while it’s heating.

  3. Angi says

    Yes. What Jessica said. The cola isn’t necessary. I have removed a lot of burned on food by boiling water in the pan and scraping.

  4. Amy says

    Exactly. Just use water. It’s called de-glazing the pan, a tried and true method. Why waste Coke?

    Here’s a good one for a nasty, messy broiler pan: thoroughly wet down a length of paper towel, and place it along the length of the pan right after removing the food. Let it sit there, moistening the burnt-on mess while you eat dinner.

    By the time you get around to doing the dishes, the burnt on mess will slid off easily with a wipe of the wet paper towel.

  5. says

    From @gaiababy on Twitter:

    re: unsticking burnt pots, water works just as well. Any black burnt marks remove with baking soda paste. (She thinks lemon juice or vinegar may be too acidic.)

    Aside: baking soda paste is a miracle scouring powder for gentle removal of stains.

  6. Vanessa says

    Boil a teaspoon or so of baking soda in a disgusting pan. Stuck on grime comes right off with a paper towel! Amazing!

  7. Jenn says

    Cook the baking soda in a bit of water for extra power. Careful, it gets bubbly. A little goes a long way.

  8. Kelly L says

    A few slices of lemons squeezed and tossed into a coffee pot with some course salt & left to sit overnight will remove burnt coffee and stains…it also works well for pots & pans if you don’t have time to boil water in them.

  9. Heather says

    As an aside, Coke will also unseize a seized engine (I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes!) Does that make you wonder what you’re drinking out of that can??

  10. says

    I just use hot water with dish soap, add a good splash of vinegar and let it soak. The works well to clean up dingy cookie sheets too.

  11. Rebecca says

    I HAVE THE ANSWER!!!!! Fabric softener sheets! Fill blackened pan with hot water, place softener sheet in, let it set an hour or so. then, wipe it out. no scrubbing required. I have also used liquid fabric softener, it works too!

  12. Megan says

    Why waste those yummy stuck on bits? You can make an easy and yummy sauce for your meat by using coke, vinegar (particularly apple cider vinegar), juice or alcohol (i really like using hard cider). With the heat on low pour in a bit of your favorite acidic liquid and it will lift off the stuck on bits. Add a little salt or seasoning and pour over your meat. It saves your pan and makes for yummy variety for your family.

  13. SJ says

    This is a great tip! I use my used fabric softener sheets, sometimes even a half of one on a small mess. I’m not sure why this works so well, but it does.

  14. says

    Hey Asha – the Coke and Vinegar both contain mild acids (phosphoric acid, and acetic acid, respectively). The carbonation doesn’t do anything (carbonic acid is *really* mild considering you can drink it in pure form). Besides, the CO2 is gone when you boil it.

    Here’s another cool thing you can do. Before bedtime, get your kids to collect dirty pennies. Put them in a small cup and add Coke to cover the pennies. Tell the kids the pennies will be all shiny by morning, after they wake up.

    It’s cool. Kids love this.

    My blog:

  15. Willy says

    Just went to my grocery stores website….

    Coke: 3cents/ounce
    White vinegar: 6cents/ounce
    Lemons: 79 cents each

    coke is cheap. also everything else the commenters have said.