Stainless steel cookware is a popular option since it is versatile and durable. Stainless steel pans are great for browning and braising your food. They are also known to be non-toxic compared to other materials, as the chemical components do not leach into your food.
In spite of all the great advantages of using a stainless steel pan, they can sometimes be tedious to clean and maintain. So in case you are new to the world of cooking or have recently purchased a stainless steel pan, this guide is for you!
We will be covering in great detail how you can clean your stainless steel pan and how to ensure it serves you for years to come.
How to Clean Discolored Stainless Steel Pots and Pans
One common downside of using stainless steel pans that the cookware can become discolored. Fortunately, this discoloration is not permanent and can be cleaned away.
You may be wondering how this stainless steel discoloration occurs. Well, there is a simple explanation: There are salts and minerals in your food that react with the steel body of the cookware and cause discoloration over time.
Another reason that discoloration occurs is that the chromium in stainless steel cookware mixes with the air and oxidizes, causing discoloration on the surface.
This discoloration not only ruins the sleek, shiny body of your stainless pots and pans, but can cause the body of your stainless steel cookware to deteriorate if not dealt with immediately.
The good news is that there are plenty of easy and inexpensive ways to get rid of this discoloration. One of the most popular methods is to use white vinegar.
This method is particularly effective if you need to clean the inside of your cookware. You simply have to pour white vinegar into your pot or pan and let it rest for 5 minutes.
After this, dispose of the white vinegar and rinse the pot/pan. This is a foolproof method and it will leave your stainless steel cookware looking brand new!
However, in the case that there are some pesky stains that remain, you can use a sponge and scrub the stains away with vinegar or lemon. This method requires a tiny bit more effort but is a sure-fire way to get rid of discoloration.
How to Clean a Burnt Stainless Steel Pot
Do you have burnt-on food stuck to your pot or stainless steel pans? Well, don’t fret because you can still salvage it and have it looking new!
There are a variety of ways to clean a burnt pan. The good thing is that most of them simply require ingredients you are likely to have lying around at home.
A common method is using vinegar and baking soda. Here are the steps to this method:
- Fill the pot with water and a cup of vinegar (fill up enough to cover the burns)
- Place your pot on a stovetop and bring the mixture to a boil
- Let it boil for a minute, then take it off the heat
- Add around two tablespoons of baking soda, then mix it together and empty the pot
- Use a non-abrasive scrubbing pad to scrub away any burnt remnants
Once you've scrubbed sufficiently, rinse the pot and be amazed by how clean it looks!
If you're wondering how to remove burnt stains from stainless steel pans without using vinegar, you can use salt with a detergent or hot water and use this mixture to scrub away the burnt marks and stains!
How to Care for Stainless Steel Pans
As the saying goes, ‘prevention is better than the cure’.
It's a good idea to take care of your stainless steel pans to prevent discoloration and deterioration. This will ensure that the pans remain in good condition. It will also save you from the hassle of cleaning discoloration and burn marks.
One important trick you should always follow is to dry your stainless steel pan immediately! Once you're done cooking and have washed the pan, dry it off at once and make sure it is completely dry. Wet spots can ruin the surface of your pan and cause discoloration.
Cleaning stainless steel pots and pans after cooking is also extremely important. This ensures there is no leftover buildup of food or minerals on the pan which can result in stains or discoloration.
Here are some things you should be mindful of to maintain stainless steel cookware:
Only add salt to your pot or pan's water when it is already at a boil. Adding salt before boiling can be bad for the surface of your pan as it can cause corrosion and discoloration.
Prevent food from sticking by ensuring the cooking oil is hot before you add the food. Using oil to create a non-stick surface ensures that your food does not stick to the surface and get burnt-on.
Try to not use rough scrubbers or strong cleaning chemicals if you want to keep your stainless steel cookware in great condition. These can cause scratches on the surface of your stainless steel pans and pots. That's why you should try to clean stainless steel cookware with natural products like lemon and vinegar.
You should also avoid using non-stick sprays on your stainless steel pan. While it can be tempting to try and make your pan non-stick, unfortunately, non-stick sprays are not suitable for stainless steel surfaces. This will result in a buildup that can ruin your pan and create stains.
Another popular trick is to not use metal utensils on your stainless steel pan. Metal utensils can create scratches and ruin your cookware's finishing. Therefore, it's best to use wood, plastic, or silicone utensils instead.
How to Clean Baked-On Grease from a Stainless Steel Pan
One great thing about stainless steel pots and pans is that they tend to be oven-friendly. However, if you do decide to bake with your stainless steel pan, you will have to deal with the baked-on grease which can often be tricky to clean.
While consistently cleaning your pan after using it can be a great way of avoiding grease, sometimes grease buildup is inevitable, especially if you use your pan frequently.
A convenient, straightforward method for removing baked-on grease only requires dishwashing liquid, which you (hopefully) already have at home.
Simply fill your sink with hot water and add some dishwashing liquid to it, and stir it up a bit to create suds. Let your stainless steel cookware soak in it. There is no hard and fast rule for how long you should let it soak, but if the grease is tough to remove, you should consider soaking your cookware overnight!
Once it's soaked sufficiently, use a sponge to gently scrub any remnants of grease.
If that method isn't effective, you can try either soaking with either vinegar or baking soda for about 20 minutes.
The good thing about stainless steel is that it is sturdy enough to take on strong cleaning agents. So, if you find that the grease is really sticking, use some cleaning agent and scrub away the grease!
How to Clean Stainless Steel Pans with Vinegar
Vinegar is often used to clean stainless steel pans. The best thing about it is that it's not as harsh as chemical cleaners and cleaning agents, and you're likely to already have it at home.
The process to cleaning your stainless steel pans with vinegar is fairly simple:
- Add around half a cup of vinegar and 2-3 cups of water to your pan
- Boil this mixture
- Let it boil for around a minute and then turn off the heat
- Let the vinegar and water sit for a while
- After it has cooled down, use a sponge or piece of cloth to scrub off any stains or marks
Once you have scrubbed it sufficiently, rinse and enjoy your pan!
This method is great for removing burn marks, discoloration, and buildup, especially calcium buildup. It will help you maintain the sleek look of your stainless steel pan.
What Can Ruin a Stainless Steel Pan?
As you learn to take care of your stainless steel cookware, you should also keep in mind some things that you should avoid. These can ruin the surface of your stainless steel pan and damage it permanently.
Don’t Preheat for Too Long
You should avoid preheating your stainless steel pan for too long. Preheating for too long can ruin your pan by causing intense discoloration. While discoloration can be cleaned off, it's just an extra hassle that you should try to avoid.
Don’t Use the Pan for Grilling
Using your stainless steel pan for grilling can also ruin it! While stainless steel pans are extremely sturdy and great for cooking as well as baking, unfortunately, they are not ideal for grilling. Grilling exposes your pan to high temperatures that can damage it and warp its metal body.
Add Salt After the Water Starts Boiling
Adding salt before the water has cooked can also ruin your pan. If you add salt before the water has started boiling, it will stick to the bottom of the pan and cause pitting as well as corrosion. So make sure you add salt only when the water has started boiling!
Don’t Use Metal Utensils
Be mindful of the utensils you use when you are cooking in your stainless steel pan. Metal utensils are a big no! They can create permanent marks on your pan and ruin its surface. You should also avoid using your pan as a cutting surface. Opt for plastic or wooden utensils to make sure your pan does not get ruined!
Don’t Use Bleach & Strong Cleaning Agents
Using bleach to clean your stainless steel pan is a sure shot way of ruining it! Bleach and other strong cleaners can ruin the surface of your steel pan by ruining its surface and resulting in permanent marks. Using harsh scrubbers can also result in marks that are permanent.
Try to Avoid Dishwashers
While most stainless steel pans tend to be dishwasher-safe, cleaning them in the dishwasher too often can be a bad idea. The dishwasher has harsh chemicals that can wear down your pan. The chemicals and detergents can also leach into any exposed aluminum in your pan. This can be extremely dangerous and toxic.
Don’t Expose to Cold Water When it’s Hot
Pouring cold water on a hot steel pan immediately after cooking can also ruin it. Exposing your hot pan to cold water can warp the metal and even cause permanent stains and discoloration. So let your pan rest and cool down before you clean it.
Best Stainless Steel Cookware Cleaner
Now that you have made it this far, you know all the great ways of maintaining your cookware and cleaning it properly. In case you are looking for the best cleaner for stainless steel pots and pans, we’ve got you covered!
Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser
As the name suggests, the Bar Keepers' soft cleanser is not too harsh. It doesn't contain bleach or other harsh abrasive chemicals. It's also tailor-made for stainless steel cookware and will let you clean without causing any damage.
It has a foamy texture and is safe for washing by hand. Since it's less harsh, you can use it daily without worrying about damaging your pan!
It also works well on other materials such as bronze, aluminum, and ceramic. This means you can use it on your other cookware as well!
This cleanser will also come in handy when you are deep-cleaning your kitchen and need to clean the sink, countertop, and stove, etc. This versatile cleaner is a gamechanger!
All-Clad Stainless Steel & Aluminium Cookware Cleaner
This is a unique cleanser option that works very well on stainless steel and aluminum cookware alike. This cleaner stands out because unlike other cleaners, it comes in powder form.
You may not be familiar with non-liquid cleaners, but this option is totally worth it! It's easy to use and gentle for both your pan and hands! You simply have to sprinkle the powder over your pan and then use a wet sponge or cloth to gently scrub.
The All-Clad cleaner is made of natural and eco-friendly ingredients. This ensures you are not exposing your cookware to anything toxic that could potentially contaminate your food.
This cleaner will remove the most intense stains and discoloration from your pan, making it look slick and brand new!
However, while this is a reliable cleaner, it does not work on copper cookware and can actually ruin it. So make sure you only use it on your aluminum or stainless steel cookware!