We tried the popular TikTok pan cleaning hack - and it didn't go well

Distilled malt vinegar and white vinegar are two *very* different things

frying pan and cleaning items
(Image credit: Future)

TikTok is truly a bottomless well of cleaning hacks that show grimy ovens, pots and pans left gleaming in seconds. One that caught our attention reveals a few easy steps on how to clean a burnt pan - and who doesn't have a regularly used pan that's a little worse for wear?

So we tried out the trick at home and, sadly, weren't quite as painstaking in sourcing the key items as we should have been, using distilled malt rather than white vinegar. 

frying pan and items for cleaning hack

(Image credit: Future)

This particular hack involves pouring a combination of salt, baking soda and dish soap onto the bottom of a dirty pan. We were quite generous with each of these ingredients - thinking more would probably be better in this situation. 

Next, you scrub at it with a tough metal scourer (a messy process). Finally, cover it in paper towels (we used toilet paper) and pour WHITE vinegar over it.

Leave it for a moment and peel off the soaked paper, and there you have it: a kitchen that stinks of vinegar and a sparkling clean pan. See how it's done in the video below.


Finally a hack that’s actually useful! 😍

♬ original sound - Dan Shaba

You will need

  • Table salt
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Steel wool scour
  • White vinegar
  • Paper towels


dirty frying pan and items for a cleaning hack

(Image credit: Future)

As you can see, our pan had some bad burnt-on marks, and on close inspection of the 'after' shot below, the hack did improve things a little. Given our erroneous use of vinegar, we think a second attempt with the right stuff would probably work.

As it turns out, white vinegar is more acidic and grain-based, and distilled malt vinegar is barley-based. The former is a much more effective cleaning tool, and often found in the cleaning aisle.

The higher acetic acid content of white vinegar makes it a much more powerful stain remover. An easy mistake to make, right?


frying pan after unsuccessful tiktok cleaning hack

(Image credit: Future)

Our guide on how to clean stainless steel includes a similar method for cleaning pans that involves warm water, white vinegar, baking soda and a steel wool scour. Alternatively, you can try the popular Bar Keeper's Friend on Amazon.

When you clean a kitchen thoroughly, white vinegar comes in handy a an environmentally-friendly option that cuts through grime. We'll be keeping an eye out for it on our next trip to the supermarket so we can try the hack properly.

Millie joined Real Homes in early 2021 as a homes news writer. When she isn't writing about trends, makeovers and houseplant care, she spends her free time making tweaks to her rented flat in North London. Her next project is a very basic armchair reupholstering job to help create a cosy reading nook in her living room. She loves browsing antique centres, tending to her small front garden, and is never without some fresh flowers at home.