How to Clean Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel pots and pans heat evenly and maintain that heat whilst cooking. This makes them a great option to cook with, yet we’ve heard plenty of people say they avoid it. Why? Because they don’t know how to keep their stainless steel cookware clean!

The good news is that it’s not difficult to keep stainless steel pots and pans sparkling if you use the right tools and approach for the job. The even better news is that we’re going to show you exactly how to do that!

What You Will Need

To keep your stainless steel cookware clean and looking good as new, you’ll need to have some or all of the below on hand:

  • Baking soda
  • Paper towels
  • Dish brush
  • Scouring pad or brush
  • Detergent
  • Dish Soap
  • Vinegar
  • Stainless Steel Polish (optional)

Can You Wash Stainless Steel Cookware in a Dishwasher?

A commonly asked question is whether stainless steel pots and pans are safe to put in the dishwasher.

Usually stainless steel cookware is dishwasher safe, particularly if the handle is also made from stainless steel rather than plastic. Before using the dishwasher to clean your stainless steel pan, check the manufacturer’s instructions first. If it’s clearly marked ‘dishwasher safe’, you should be ok.

On the other hand, stainless steel cookware with plastic handles should be washed by hand wherever possible. This is because the high heat of the dishwasher can damage and crack the handles, reducing the lifespan of your cookware.

Our advice is to always wash stainless steel pots and pans by hand if you have the time. Yes, even if they are marked as ‘dishwasher safe’. This is because many detergents used in dishwashers are abrasive and can tarnish polished stainless steel. You may have also noticed that pans come out of the dishwasher with water spots or end up discolored. Finally, the rough-and-tumble action of the dishwasher can loosen the fastenings securing the handles to your cookware.

Fortunately, cleaning stainless steel cookware by hand doesn’t need to be a time consuming chore!

How to Clean Stainless Steel Cookware After General Use

Without a doubt one of the best ways to make sure that your stainless steel cookware stays in top condition is to regularly hand clean after each use. After cooking, it’s important that you allow your pan to fully cool before exposing it to water. This is because sudden changes in temperature can cause your pan to warp, which will create an uneven cooking surface.

Once your pan has cooled, remove any excess oil by wiping with a clean paper towel. Break up any bits of burned food or grease using a dish brush. Use hot, soapy water and a nylon scouring pad or brush to scrub the inside and outside of the pan. Use a continuous circular motion to make sure you cover the whole pan.

Rinse in cold water and thoroughly dry with a clean towel.

How to Remove Burned on Food

There will be times when your pan is caked with burned on food. To deal with this problem, soak your pan in warm soapy water. Ensure that the affected area is completely submerged and leave for around 1 hour.

Next, place your pan on the stove and bring the soapy water to the boil for around 15 minutes. This should thoroughly loosen any caked on food and grease.

After removing the pan from the stove and allowing the water to cool, use some elbow grease and scrub your pan with a nylon scouring pad. Drain your pan and wash again with hot soapy water before rinsing and allowing to dry.

If you still have some tough residue stuck to your pan, repeat this process as needed.

How to Stop Food From Sticking To Your Stainless Steel Pan

No doubt the best way to deal with burned on food is to do everything you can to prevent it from sticking in the first place! When it’s not heated, stainless steel is a porous metal, and it’s the edges of these pores that can cause food to stick. Preheating your pan causes the stainless steel to expand which closes the pores and creates a smooth cooking surface.

Before cooking, preheat your pan on the stove over a low to medium heat. To check whether the pan is preheated, you can use the water drop test. When a small amount of water forms into a single ball and rolls around your pan, you’re ready to add oil.

Remove your pan from the heat momentarily and add your cooking oil, before placing back on the stove. You’ll know that the oil is sufficiently preheated when you hear is start to sizzle – at this point you’re ready to add your food to the pan.

How to Get Rid of Burn Marks

We’ve all been there. A distraction makes us leave a pan on the stove for too long. Maybe we accidentally turned up the heat too much. The end result is the same – unsightly scorch marks on our formerly pristine stainless steel pan.

Never fear! Removing burn marks from stainless steel cookware is far more simple than you may have thought. By devoting some time and TLC you can get your pans looking as good as new.

To begin with, add a pinch of detergent to the burned pan. Fill the pan with water and place on a stove at a medium heat, bringing to the boil. Once the water starts boiling, remove the pan from the stove and set aside. Allow the detergent and water to sit in the pan overnight.

In the morning, drain the pan. Fill a sink or washbowl with hot water and add three cups of white vinegar. Give it a stir and place the scorched pan in the mixture. Allow the pan to soak in the water for four hours, turning it every half an hour to allow the vinegar to work all over.

Take your pan out of the bowl – but don’t throw away the water just yet. Using a damp sponge or brush rub baking soda on the pan. Use a circular motion to create a lather of baking soda all over. Don’t rinse it off – place your pan on to a paper towel and allow the baking soda to dry.

Now, pop the pan back into the mixture of water and white vinegar. The baking soda should react and start fizzing. Drain the mixture and scrub your pan all over with a scouring brush.

Thoroughly rinse your pan and towel dry. It should now be shiny and free of scorch marks.

How to Remove Water Marks From Stainless Steel Pans

If you live in an area with ‘hard’ water – meaning that it has a high mineral content, you may find your pan is affected by water spots. Whilst this doesn’t damage your pan or reduce its usefulness, it just doesn’t look good.

Removing water spots from your stainless steel pan is simple. First, take a paper towel and add a teaspoon of olive oil onto it. Rub the affected area of your pan, making sure to go with the grain. Use a clean paper towel to wipe away any excess oil and buff your pan with a clean cloth.

If you want to stop water spots forming in the first place, be sure to dry your pans with a clean towel after washing.

Restoring the Shine on Stainless Steel Cookware

When looked after well, stainless steel cookware can be a thing of beauty. Clean, shiny pots and pans proclaim the message that here is someone who is serious about good food!

To make your stainless steel sparkle, it’s well worth taking some time to regularly polish it. Using a clean cloth, buff the polish into the surface of your pan. We’d recommend only using polish on the outside of the pan. Even if the product information mentions that it’s non-toxic, the ingredients could affect the flavour of your food.