The Big Spring Spruce-Up

How to Clean the Dirtiest Enameled Pan Once & For All

Our co-founder Amanda Hesser shares her five-step method.

March 15, 2019
Photo by Amanda Hesser

For The Big Spring Spruce-Up, we’re throwing our windows wide open and letting in all that fresh air. Follow along for handy tips and game-changing tricks—cleaning and organizing to-dos, home decorating projects, and more.

Want to see a magic trick?

Good, same here—always. (Unless it involves disappearing snacks.) Lucky for us, our co-founder, CEO, and resident pan-scrubbing expert Amanda Hesser agreed to share her top tips for making enameled pans look good-as-new with just one ingredient, plus some water and elbow grease.

Check it out:

Do try this trick at home.

What you'll need:

Amanda's five-step method:

  1. Identify which pan is in dire need of TLC.
  2. Rinse the pan under water (this helps the Bar Keepers Friend from falling off the pan).
  3. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of Bar Keepers Friend on a small portion of the pan bottom.
  4. Using a damp sponge, get your elbow grease on and get scrubbing! I like to work on an area, make some progress, then move on until the pan bottom is mostly clean. Then I'll rinse it so I can give myself a brief pat on the back. Then, I reload the Bar Keepers Friend and get off the last stuck bits.
  5. After getting the pan bottom clean, I'll move to the sides and then to the handle. The most important part is to make sure you're using pressure—stuck bits don't come off without serious friction, no matter how caustic the scrubbing powder is—and remind yourself regularly that this counts as your workout for the day.

What's your top tip for tough build-ups on pots and pans? Let us know in the comments!
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • rahimlee54
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  • MsJoanie
Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.


rahimlee54 April 13, 2019
I have cleaned out the inside of my enameled cookware many times like this. Never an issue.
David C. April 13, 2019
Inside the pan, I like to dampen the inside of the pan and sprinkle table salt in th pan, then scrub it with a non-abrasive scrubber.
Nancy L. April 13, 2019
Oven cleaner will make Pyrex shine like new, also great for cleaning stovetop grates! Baking soda and lemon juice will make copper sparkle. If you have a burned coffee pot put ice and kosher salt in and swirl around, and it will look new again.
Susan O. March 27, 2019
Baking soda and determination. If really gross, a touch of white vinegar.
MsJoanie March 24, 2019
IMO Bon Ami works much better than Bar Keepers Friend and is gentle enough to tackle the inside of enameled cast iron as well. Also, it doesn't smell bad like BKF :-\ It works great on anything stainless, like the cooked on stuff in the corners of my half sheet pans and their outsides as well. I think Bon Ami is also less abrasive than straight baking soda.
Linda B. March 24, 2019
Hi MsJoanie,

I have found that baking soda, while very sightly abrasive, actually polishes glass, ceramic, enamel, what have you and that used over a period of time creates a surface that food sticks less to.
I do use Bon Ami on my antique porcelain sinks as well as baking soda.
I have no idea which is the more abrasive but I do know that I have never damaged, nor scratched anything with baking soda.
Another use for baking soda at my house is cleaning my butcher blocks. I find that no matter how diligent I am about wiping them off after every use a coating of gunk builds up after a while. I don't ever use soap on my butcher blocks so the way that I clean them is to sprinkle lightly with water, toss a few tablespoons full of baking soda, take a scrubbie or one of those plastic meshy things and scour vigorously. It's thoroughly disgusting to see the gray guck that is created with the water, baking soda and elbow grease but it works. I scrape that stuff off with a dough scraper, followed by sponging up what's left. Let dry, re-oil and your blocks will look like new.
Linda B. March 24, 2019
I've always used just baking soda on the outside and the same scrubbing method as Ella, lots of elbow grease. This also works great on burnt on or built up crud in your pyrex pans. Actually baking soda will take almost anything off of almost any surface. I sprinkle some on a damp sponge, not soggy, and start rubbing. For those hard to get to parts around riveted handles on pans I use a barely wet tooth brush dipped in baking soda.
Ella Q. March 24, 2019
Hi Linda,

I've heard that as well! Will have to give it a try when my BKF runs out...
MalliG March 18, 2019
What about inside the pan? Have tried bleach but it doesn’t work on the very browned bottom. Any ideas?
Smaug March 18, 2019
I think this is all about the inside- try the boiling with baking soda method, it's always worked for me, doesn't involve toxics or any great amount of work.
Smaug March 18, 2019
Hm- you're right, I was thinking about insides all along (confusing enamel with ceramic). Boiling a strong baking soda solution is usually the best bet inside. If it's just outsides, oven cleaner, no question.
MalliG March 18, 2019
what are the proportions?
Smaug March 18, 2019
Never measured it, but something like 1/4c/qt (1 Tb./cup) on average, probably. Stronger for worse gunk.
Noel D. March 15, 2019
soak the pan in a clorox solution overnight. works wonders.
Amanda H. March 16, 2019
Interesting -- do you have to scrub in the next day or do the cooked on bits all dissolve off?
Ella Q. March 17, 2019
Also curious if you dilute the Clorox! If so, how much water do you add?
Gary Q. March 15, 2019
I don't agree with using Bar Keeper's Friend. I do love the stuff but when I used it to clean the inside of my enamel covered dutch oven, it was the beginning of the end. The enamel began to wear away and even though I never made the same mistake with BKF, each cleaning seemed to clear off more enamel.
Smaug March 15, 2019
There are at least two formulations of BKF, the traditional cleanser version, which is very abrasive, and a "gentle" version (don't remember what it's called)that depends on the oxalic acid- haven't used it myself, but what comments I've read on it have been pretty positive.
Gammy March 16, 2019
The less abrasive BKF is called multipurpose "Cooktop Cleaner" and is a thick white liquid, similar to other cooktop cleaners. It comes in a silver plastic bottle. I recommend it highly for cooktops as well as enameled pans. It may be a little hard to find, but Amazon carries it.
Amanda H. March 17, 2019
Thanks so much for letting us know.
Smaug March 15, 2019
My favorite for burned on gunk (other than avoiding it) is to boil a strong baking soda solution in the pan- not sure what goes on chemically, but it seems to bubble up from under the edge of the gunk, peeling it off neatly. In desperate situations oven cleaner will do the job; you'll want to rinse it off thoroughly. Most of my experience of this stuff is on stainless steel, but I'm sure it would work well on ceramic.