While there’s a substantial amount of information available on the proper care for rust-prone cast iron cookware, dealing with stainless steel pots and pans is fortunately a much simpler task. However, this doesn’t mean they are immune to occasional issues. Burnt-on residue and patches of polymerized oil can diminish the luster of a stainless steel pan and, in severe cases, disrupt the cooking process.
The reassuring aspect is that stainless steel is incredibly resilient. It can withstand vigorous scrubbing, scouring, and, on lazier days, even a trip through the dishwasher without much harm.
How to Clean Stainless Steel Pots and Pans? Here are Food and Meal‘s top recommendations for restoring your stainless steel cookware to its optimal condition.
Basic Daily Cleaning: Use a Scrubber Sponge and Hot, Soapy Water
When it comes to cleaning our stainless steel cookware, a good wash in the sink with hot, soapy water and a non-scratch sponge is typically all we need to get our pans looking shiny and new again. We avoid using anything too abrasive that could scratch or damage the exterior finish. If we’re worried our scrubber might be too harsh, we try testing it out on a small spot on the bottom of the pan before scrubbing the entire surface. As long as we use a gentle, non-abrasive sponge and warm, soapy water, we should have no problem washing away any stuck-on food or residue from our stainless steel pans. We just be sure to rinse thoroughly and dry completely to maintain the beautiful shine. With this simple cleaning method, our stainless steel cookware will continue looking pristine and lasting for years to come in our opinion. We love how it keeps the pans looking like new!
For Really Bad Burnt-On Crud: The Dishwasher-Detergent Trick
We’ve all been there – getting completely absorbed in a TV show or movie and forgetting about the pot simmering away on the stove. Before you know it, the bottom is coated in a thick layer of burnt food that seems impossible to scrub off. But don’t worry, we have a handy trick that the test kitchen at Food and Meal magazine shared with us. When facing a severely scorched pot, we fill it with water and add a generous amount of powdered dishwasher detergent, not liquid. We let it sit overnight. The next day, we find most of the burnt residue has lifted off on its own thanks to the cleaning power of the detergent. Any remaining stuck-on bits come off easily with some light scrubbing from a sponge. It saves us from spending an hour aggressively scrubbing at burnt food. This tip has been a total game changer for us when it comes to cleaning scorched pots with minimal effort. We love that the detergent does most of the tough work overnight. In our opinion, this is the best way to deal with badly burnt pots and pans.
To Restore a Pan’s Shiny Luster: Bust Out the Bar Keepers Friend
Even when we try to keep our stainless steel pans clean, over time they can lose their shiny new appearance. Small spills that run down the sides can burn on, oil can polymerize, and the once beautiful silvery metal can develop yellowish stains and black carbonized spots. In more neglected cases, stainless steel can even start to rust.
The most effective method we’ve found to tackle these stubborn stains and discoloration is using the powdered version of Bar Keepers Friend, which contains oxalic acid. The oxalic acid, together with the abrasiveness of the powder, works well to remove tough stains. However, bringing a very dirty pan back to like-new condition does take a lot of hard scrubbing on our part.
If all else fails, an oven cleaner like Easy-Off can dissolve baked-on carbonized gunk. We simply spray it on, let it sit for a while, then wash and scrub it off. We have to be cautious though, because oven cleaner is basically aerosolized lye and can cause burns if it touches our skin.
How to Care for Stainless-Steel Cookware
Prevention is key to keeping our stainless-steel pans clean and stain-free. We recommend that cold foods are likelier to stick to a hot pan, so it’s beneficial to allow refrigerated ingredients, such as ground beef or chicken, to sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.
To prevent food from sticking, we suggest preheating your pan before adding oil, and then waiting until the oil is hot before starting to cook. When preparing pasta and similar dishes, it’s wise to wait to add salt until after the water is already boiling to avoid pitting corrosion, which can cause small, irreparable dents in the bottom of your pan.
With these simple tips, you can extend the life of your stainless-steel pans and keep this often-used cookware in pristine condition, as shared by those who have used our products and offered their valuable opinions.
In our experience, these methods can restore stainless steel pans to their original pristine state, but they require time and elbow grease. We’ve found the effort worth it to keep our stainless cookware looking shiny and new!
I'm Kelly Atkinson, with a passion for dissecting the world of home goods. My reviews stem from thorough testing and a love for sharing detailed insights. Each piece I write offers a glimpse into my explorative journey, aiming to guide readers to informed choices with authenticity and precision, making every review a blend of exploration and expertise.