Cleaning Really Filthy Pots and Pans

really dirty washing up “How do you get really dirty pots and pans clean again?” is a question I get in my inbox on a weekly basis and today it is the Wednesday task for Daily Housewifery Prompts (use #DHWP on twitter). My number one tip should really go without saying – wash it up as soon as you use it. But for some stubborn stains immediate cleaning combined with the best of elbow grease doesn’t work.

Here’s the easiest tip ever. Fill up your sink with really hot water, coat the inside of your pan with non-biological washing powder, fill with hot water and allow to sit in the sink. Allow the washing powder to do its work for at least 30 minutes then rinse. Your pan should be nice and clean!

how to clean dirty pots and pans

Recently for a large pot luck event Mr Thrifty cooked Nigella’s famous ham in cherry coke but man, does that stuff wreck a perfectly shiny pot! That sugary, fatty stuff was not budging so we busted out the laundry detergent and around 45 mins the grime just slid off in one thick layer.

It even worked on a 1940s saucepan we picked up at a bootsale. We had no plans to use it for cooking but wanted to use it in the garden – it was too filthy even for that. One quick cup of washing powder lately and it was as good as new.

Yup you will get a grubby tide line around your sink but it will wipe right away if you do it immediately. Of course you’ll want to wash your pan thoroughly just to make sure every last bit is long gone.Your dirty old pan is now saved from landfil/the back of your cupboard, you may now praise me.

P.S. Do you think you’ll give it a go?

P.P.S. You can read more about #DHWP here.

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  1. Will definitely try this when my pans get filthy! Thanks for the tip :)

    Please follow


  2. I love the shiny and new blog design! :-)

    I do this to my pans, not sure if you should or not but for stubborn mess in pans, such as burnt on scrambled egg (nice!) I boil the pan on the hob with the wash powder in.


  3. wowser, love this idea I’m totally going to try it! I’ve lost so many non stick pans to my awful scrubbing ways.


  4. I always have this problem when making anything that requires hot sugar in a saucepan. I’ve always just squirted in a good bit of washing up liquid, then filled the pan with just boiled water. Still takes a little scrubbing though, so I might try this next time. :) x


  6. That is just what I needed to read! It’s a bugger trying to clean burned milk off a pan. I like to make hot chocolate at night and I warm the milk and no matter how low the gas or if I stir, I always end up with bloody milk burns. I do admit, the last thing I want to be doing at night is cleaning a man so I leave it till the morning…and regret it each time. :] lol.

    thank you!

  7. Love this! Another good one, if your pan isn’t QUITE so bad, is to sprinkle some bicarb in the bottom, add a little water and put it back on the hob to simmer. The nasty black burnt bits come right off! x

  8. Ooh I am so trying this out!!! We have to leave our furnished rented bungalow soon and everything’s just as we found it except there’s a baking tray that has baked on grease which is bugging me and I want to have it clean before we go! Was going to try sand/grit and hot water (it doesn’t have a non-stick surface) but I think I’ll try your trick first!

  9. Ooh am so trying this out. Have a baking tray with baked on grease!

  10. is there a reason why it has to be non bio washing powder?

    • Yeah – I was wondering why non-bio..? I would have thought bio enzymes would have worked specifically to break down the food.

    • Yeah – I was wondering why non-bio…? I’d’ve thought that the enzymes of a bio detergent would work specifically to break down the food waste.

  11. Do you think this would work with washing liquid? I rarely buy powder.



  12. oh my word! does that really work? i need to try that sneaky tip out. i was just thinking yesterday how annoying it is to scrub the pans.

    thanks Thrifty!

  13. This is worth buying powder for especially (did you pretend you were going to chase Mr T with the disgusting grease layer once it came off? You did didn’t you?)
    Great tip x

  14. great idea! I usually break a bit off a dishwasher tablet and put that in, and full up with hot water from the kettle. That works a treat, too.

  15. Great idea! I am always marinating and stewing (food, not myself) and it can leave nightmare stains!

  16. Good idea. Wonder if this’ll work on my manky oven chip tray too…

    The new look is fab, btw!

  17. Great idea! Am giving this a go TONIGHT!

  18. For years I’ve been buying in bio powder for this job (I only use non-bio for laundry). I never knew you could use non-bio!! Thank you!!!

  19. It worked yay!!! Thank you Mrs Thrifty! I’m learning so many good tips from you!!! <3

  20. Holy crap. I have to try this out. Thank you, thank you!

  21. Tried this yesterday – you have saved one of my very expensive, very nearly ruined saucepans from the bin! Had to do it twice but I think thats a reflection of my ability to incinerate anything rather than the tip!

    Rachel x

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