How to Clean a Pot

Well folks, disaster struck. Sunday, some leftover curry lentil soup got heated up on too high of a setting, and about half of it remained on the bottom of Still Pretty New Wedding Cookware in a thick layer. I didn’t take a before shot (or an after shot for that matter) but I’ll let you get the idea from this photo of a burned-out forest. Catching my drift?

Burned forest

If this was just any old cheapo pot it may have been it’s last day. However, this was my part-of-a-set, Paula Deen copper bottom pot (the medium one, my favorite size) so lots of effort was put into cleaning this thing.

First I tried my usual, “just boil some water and it should break the debris up” trick. This almost always works. Except for this time. The layer was just too thick. So I soaked the pan overnight and tried again. No dice.

Next, I had some vinegar on hand since I was cleaning my coffee maker anyway, so I poured some vinegar into the pan and let it sit. Nothing happened. This is where Doug comes in.

Doug says, “oh, vinegar, it’s a weak acid. At work we boil acid to clean our glassware.” So commences the boiling of the vinegar. And the tearing up of the eyes. And the opening of the kitchen window even though it was freezing outside. DO NO TRY THIS AT HOME. Acid fumes are not fun. Later he tells me that they have a hood that sucks the fumes out of the lab when they’re doing that. Of course they do. We don’t. Important difference.

This brings us to the last technique, the one that worked. At this point I turned to our friend the Internet for help. The method I used was to put 2 tbsp baking soda into 1 cup water (actually I doubled this formula, to 4 and 2) and make a solution. Then boil this solution for 15 minutes.

Lo and behold, after boiling for fifteen minutes and what seemed like hours of scrubbing, the pot was cleaned.

No, this is not my photo either. But now my pot IS this clean.

So, now you know. Do not use vinegar unless you’re staging a WWI mustard gas reenactment. Too soon?


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Staci blogs about travel at

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