How to Remove Scorch Marks from Stainless Steel


Ellen asked: How do I remove scorch stains from stainless steel cookware? I allowed a large pot of greens to burn in my best cookware. I have scrubbed, soaked and scrubbed again to no avail. What, if anything, can I do to remove the scorch marks (burnt-on stains) in my stainless steel pot?

When food burns, the scorch marks go deep into the tiny grooves of the surface. The added heat causes the burnt food and stains to adhere tightly to the surface. Fortunately, there are products that will remove the stains without damaging the surface.

You Will Need:

  • Stainless steel scrubbing pads
  • Bar Keeper’s friend
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Water

Steps to Remove the Stains:

  1. Begin by washing the surface of the stained area to remove any loose food debris.
  2. Scrub the surface with dish soap and a nylon scrubber.
  3. Apply a small amount of Bar Keeper’s friend to the scrubber and rub it over the scorched area. If Barkeeper’s Friend is not available, baking soda can be substituted.
  4. It may take some elbow grease to get the stain off if it is severe.
  5. Continue scrubbing and adding additional cleaner if needed.
  6. If the scorch marks are stubborn and/or severe, add a bit of distilled vinegar to the sponge as well for a cleaning boost.
  7. Once the scorch marks are removed, wash the entire piece as normal with water and dish soap.
  8. Rinse with clean water.
  9. Dry with a soft cloth.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • There are different colored scrubbing pads, with different levels of abrasiveness. The green scrubbing pads are often too abrasive and can leave marks on the stainless steel. There are blue pads that are less abrasive, or look for scrubbing pads specifically designed for stainless steel. Look for nylon scrubbing pads, and avoid steel pads.
  • For some, ketchup has worked well. Spread a layer over the scorched area and allow it to set for an hour or so. Scrub away stain and then wash.
  • You can fill the pan with water and add one of the following: lemon juice, denture tablets or automatic dishwasher detergent. Allow it to soak overnight. For tough stains, some have found it useful to boil the solution in the pan for a few minutes.
  • Do not use bleach to soak the pans as it can damage the steel and leave it pitted.


  1. Linda says:

    How do I clean a stainless steel grill that had a flare up, and now the inside is burnt? Please help!

  2. Robert says:

    I was boiling water in a stainless steel pot and forgot about it. The pot ran out of water and sat on the burner for about 5 minutes with no water in and it scorched the pot inside and out. Is there any way to clean the pot? Thanks.

  3. Melanie says:

    Since your scorch marks are so severe, you could first try the solution in the Additional Tips section (filling the pot with water and adding either lemon juice or denture tablets or dishwasher detergent, and letting the pot soak overnight). However, since your stains are on the outside as well, use a plastic tub, bucket or sink instead; fill the tub or sink with water, add one of the cleaners to the water and soak the entire pot overnight. The next day, scrub the pot with Barkeepers Friend or baking soda and follow the other steps in the article.

  4. RK says:

    I have a beautiful tea kettle with a whistling spout. I had some water on the outside and when I put it on the stove, the water from the outside dries up prematurely. Therefore it left a stain of dried water on the outside. What was explained on this page the best method in cleaning that?

  5. Lyn says:

    I have scorched my stainless steel cooker. I’ve tried baking soda and malt vinegar. It’s only a few months old.

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