Heated up a pot of milk (apparently the heat setting was too high). However, the milk burned to the bottom (inside) of the pot. How can this be removed?

Tried so far:

  • Elbow grease with brush
  • Elbow grease with wire scrubber
  • Soaking with soap
  • Scraping/chiselling with a knife

While I'm getting a fairly decent workout, there must be a better way to do this without damaging the pot (further).

  • 2
    Whilst it looks like you've already tried anything I can think of, it might be useful to say what material the inside of the pot is. Teflon, aluminium, cast iron?
    – Dave
    Apr 30, 2015 at 14:13
  • Buying a product doesn't count as a LifeHack but EasyOff works on stainless steel pots. May 27, 2015 at 16:20

8 Answers 8


I've had good success leaving pots with burnt on food soaking overnight with biological washing powder + cold water. The enzymes in that sort of washing powder are designed to break up that sort of thing!


Try boiling water in the pot for a period of time (ten minutes, perhaps?). Then, while the pot is still hot, pour out most of the water and gently scrub with a handled brush (so as not to burn yourself). You may also want to add some liquid soap after you've poured out most of the water. If you add water at the start, before boiling, the suds will probably spill over the sides.


As a home brewer I often have this problem when malt caramelizes at the bottom of the pot. I use Sodium hydroxide (NaOH), also known as lye and caustic soda. depending on the strength of the product you can get your hands on, for the one I can get, a 3% dilution in water is enough, but you should read the indications of the manufacturer anyway. simply fill with solution until it covers all of the stuff you want to remove. let it sit for a day or so and the stuff will be floating by the time you see it again. No damage to your pots, no need to scrub anything, despite what you might think it is safe to consume trace amounts of this stuff at the recommended dilution(you might want to give it a good rinse anyway). this is what food processing plants and breweries use to clean their equipment after all.

Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) should only be used on food grade stainless steel, if your pot is made from aluminum you CANNOT use this, as Sodium hydroxide reacts with aluminum and pretty much dissolves it.

If your are unsure if your pot is made of steel, a fridge magnet can be used to test it, if it doesn't stick to it: it's not food grade stainless steel.

Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is a dangerous chemical that should be used with care, always wear eye protection and gloves.

  • Oven cleaners are usually NaOH based, much more expensive but so easy to get. BTW, enameled pots are also safe.
    – Agent_L
    May 13, 2015 at 14:29

Easy one. I buy stainless steel pads, sold in the kitchen dept at grocery stores where the kitchen scrub pads are. Soap + water + stainless steel scrubby and you are good to go in minutes. This even gets off baked on scrambled egg and bacon grease.


You know how hey say "like dissolves like" when talking about solubility? So what I usually do is I use the same substance that got stuck on the pot. In your case you could leave the pot soaking in milk overnight, then bring it to a boil stirring it so it doesn't burn, then discard and scrub. This has worked for me in the past with food on the greasier side.

You could also use a mix of milk and soap, that has worked for me as well.


I've had awesome results with boiling baking soda and water in the pot then letting it cool down. When you go to scrub it, everything will just slide out.


According to the internet: Salt.

It changes a bit based on the exact type of stain and product you're using, but in general:

  1. Put a lot of salt in pan/pot
  2. Put some water (or lemon juice/white vinegar) in the pan to make a salt-paste
  3. soak/scrub/boil (again, depending on type of stain and severity)
  4. scrub and done

Alternate "source": Google "clean burnt pan with salt"


I got good results with citric acid (intended for coffe machines)

The acid breaks carbonhydrates down to sugar (much easier to get in solution). Just pour the acid on the crust(ad water if its pure), let it sit for a few hours and preferable heat it up. The crust looks intact after the process, but comes off pretty easy. The effectives of this method depends on the specific contents of your crust.

  • Please explain this more thoroughly. How to use it? Do you know why it works good?
    – Alex
    May 15, 2015 at 14:28
  • This has potential to be a good answer, but it needs some references to back up the information that you mention. Could you please add some in?
    – michaelpri
    Aug 12, 2015 at 3:20

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