How to clean stainless steel pans

By | July 29, 2016

Cleaning stainless steel pans

Stainless steel is perhaps the most common metal used for kitchen utensils. Pans, pots, spoon, knife, tumblers, bowls and almost everything is available in stainless steel. Its resistant from rust and corrosion and lasts really long.

Cleaning stainless steel is quite easy if you do it on time and regularly. Simple dishsoap and water should suffice. However there are certain recipes (specially those involving oil and frying) that leave stronger residues and stains on the steel that can be time consuming to clean.

If you manage to burn something in the steel pan while on stove, the burnt food can leave a really strong mark on the stainless steel that can take hours or even days to clean. It can even spoil the next food that you cook in the same pan. Sugar for example leaves a very strong stain on stainless steel if it gets burnt while cooking.

Avoid abrasive scrubs

Avoid rubbing too hard with an abrasive scrubber. Never use any steel wool or wire scourer. Doing so will remove the sticky food or stain easily but will etch and scratch the steel too much, making it loose the original shine and look ugly. Sponges and fiber scrubs are best for cleaning steel.

In this post we talk about simple home remedies to get rid of the dirt on your stainless steel pans and pots that did not go away with the usual scrubber and soap.

1. Simple hard water stains

If all you need to clean is hard water stains from the steel, the process is actually very simple. Mix equal parts of plain white vinegar and water in a cup and use this solution to rub the steel pan with a sponge. Do it for few minutes and all stains should be gone.
Cleaning stainless steel pans depends on type of stain

If the stains seem to be bit harder, then just fill the pan with the solution for a few hours and wash later. If the stains are on the outer side of the pan too, then put the pan in a small plastic tub or bucket and fill the tub with the vinegar+water solution and leave for few hours.

Hard water mainly consists of minerals that decompose and dissolve under the effect of vinegar in some time. You do not need anything else. If vinegar is not at hand, then go for lemon juice. One tablespoon of lemon juice in a quart of water should be the right solution.

2. Burnt oil or food stains

First clean with your regular dishsoap and sponge and remove as much of it possible. This will remove any sticky food particles and leave behind only the sticky residue that needs special treatment.

Prepare a solution of hot water + half cup baking soda + 1-2 teaspoon of dishsoap and pour it in the pan. Make enough solution to just cover up the burned area and not more.

Let it sit like that for a day. Or you could try heating it on stove for about 5 minutes. This will cause the solution to boil up and loosen up the sticky burnt food. Afterwards just clean again as usual and the sticky food and burnt stains should come off easily.

As an alternative to baking soda, vinegar or lemon juice may be used. Mix equal parts of vinegar with warm water+ 1 teaspoon of dishsoap and pour inside the pan.

Or fill the pan with warm water and squeeze about 2 tablespoon of lemon juice in it. Let it sit for few hours. Afterwards the stains should come off easily with dishsoap and water, effortlessly. You may want to heat the solution to get the job done quicker.

If you do not have vinegar or baking soda then even a solution of dishsoap+water can help lift of burnt food residue and stains. Just let it sit and soak for a day.

3. Regular cleaning

For daily cleaning of stainless steel cookware dishsoap is sufficient. For stubborn food stains or patches, pre-treat by keeping the utensils submerged in a solution for few hours so that the sticky residue loosens up and you don’t need to put in manual labor.

The solution should be made with 2 teaspoons of dishsoap in about a quarter gallon water.

4. Commercial dish cleaning products

There are plenty of cleaning products available in the market that are specially formulated to lift burned food stains and grease stains from stainless steel cookware. You can find them on amazon. Here are some popular ones –

1. Dawn Dish Power Dissolver –

Extra tips and advice

Here is another useful tip on clean off sticky burnt food from the inside of a pan. Put a tablespoon of cream of tartar in the pan and fill with enough water to cover the burned area and let it sit for a day. Afterwards all the burned residue should come off with a simple soap wash.

If you want to avoid boiling the pan with the cleaning solution in it, the alternative is to let the solution sit in the pan for a whole day. Either way it would do the work. Sometimes however the burned food is just too bad to come off easily and you need extra heat to loosen it up.

Please keep in mind that all the above mentioned cleaning techniques are meant strictly for stainless steel pans only. Do not try them on nonstick pans or other coated pans.

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