How to clean the bottom of pans - 5 simple steps to make them shine

Baking Soda paste for cleaning the bottom of pans
(Image credit: Future)

Knowing how to clean the bottom of pans is essential to ensure your food is cooked thoroughly and efficiently. My pans had a black layer on the bottom that was stopping them from heating up like they used to, but luckily I know a quick and easy method to clean and restore my pans to their original form. Then build-up on the bottom of pans is most common with gas stoves, but it can also be caused by electric cooktops after some time. 

You need clean pans that will heat up properly to get the most out of the best electric cooktops. Clean pan bottoms are especially important with the best induction cooktops, where the heat is transferred directly to the pan. A dirty base can stop your food from cooking evenly. 

How to clean the bottom of pans

Baking Soda Paste

(Image credit: Future)

1. Make a paste with baking soda and water 

Mix 2 parts baking soda with 1 part water and make a thick paste.

2. Rub the paste on the base of the pan

Use a pallet knife or your hand to rub the paste on the underside of your pan

What the expert says...

Amber Noyes, editor of Gardening Chores says "Cleaning pan bottoms can be a real headache. It might feel insignificant until burnt food and grease start messing with your cooking. Keeping your pans clean is about more than just appearances – it extends their lifespan and ensures your food cooks evenly and tastes amazing."

3. Let it sit for 20 minutes

Leave the paste on the underside of the pan for 20 minutes - this will allow it to break down any residue so that it can be wiped off easily. 

4. Wipe the paste off

Use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe the paste off. The baking soda is mildly abrasive and should remove the majority of the residue or dirt from the base of the pan.

5. Rinse the pan with water

Use warm tap water to rinse the base of the pan and remove any remaining baking soda. Allow the pan to dry fully and repeat the process if necessary. 

Top tips for cleaning the bottom of pans  

Depending on the type of pan that you have you may want to use a different solution. For cast iron pans, rub dry salt over the base and then wipe it with a soft cloth instead of using the baking soda paste to minimize the amount of moisture. 

When cleaning the bottom of pans it is best not to use rough sponges or scouring pads as the baking soda paste is already mildly abrasive and will remove a large amount of the residue on its own. Any scouring could potentially scratch the bottom of the pan making it less effective at heating and cooking your food. To avoid scratching your pan stick to soft cloths or sponges when wiping off the baking soda. 

How to keep the bottom of pans clean

The black stuff on the bottom of pans is usually a combination of soot and dried food from spillovers. If you use a gas stove, incomplete combustion will cause a layer of black soot to form on the base of your pan which is almost unavoidable - cleaning it frequently will stop the build-up from becoming thick and sticky and will keep your pan in good condition. If you have an electric cooktop, you should be careful when cooking on high heat, as spillover and boil-ups can cause food to spill onto your burner and create a thick, sticky residue on the base of your pan that will need to be cleaned.  

How to clean the bottom of cast iron pans

Cleaning the bottom of cast iron pans is surprisingly quick and easy. Cast Iron can rust or get greasy and grimy and require regular cleaning to ensure they heat up quickly and cook your food effectively. If your cast iron pan has a dirty base and doesn't get hot enough then it may not be able to give you a good crust on your favorite steaks or burgers. The following steps will help you to clean the bottom of cast iron pans easily:

1. Heat up some water in the microwave or on the stove

You will need near-boiling water so be very careful and wear gloves. 

2. Place the pan upside down in your sink

Make sure the bottom of the pan is facing upwards 

3. Slowly pour the hot water over the pan

Pour the hot water over the base of the pan while scrubbing gently with a sponge to remove as much of the grime as possible. 

4. Rub coarse salt over the base of the pan

Kosher salt or any other coarse salt is ideal as it is mildly abrasive and will remove any stubborn grime or residue. 

5. Rinse once more

Rinse the base of the pan once more with warm water

6. Dry the pan completely

Dry the base of the pan thoroughly to prevent any rust or tarnishing. A wet cast iron pan will rust and can be susceptible to corrosion from acidic foods. 

How to keep the bottom of cast iron pans clean

Cast Iron pans are great for getting a good crust on your favorite foods, but they also require a lot of extra care to keep them in pristine condition. You need to be mindful of where you store or place your cast iron pan, as it needs to be somewhere completely dry - if your pan comes into contact with a lot of water then there is a chance that the base can get rusty or tarnish. 

Be careful when cooking in your cast iron pan. If you overfill it, any spillover will end up on the burner and inevitably onto the base of the pan itself. To avoid this, try to fill your pan less and go easy on things like butter or milk that can bubble over easily.

Monib Zahdeh
TTR Staff Writer

Monib is a former staff writer for Top Ten Reviews. He has a degree in journalism and over four years of experience in the home and garden industry as a Digital Content Specialist for the made-to-measure marketplace Britannia Rose. When he is not reading or writing, Monib enjoys cooking, going on walks, and visiting different historical sites.  

With contributions from