Today:16 July, 2024

How to clean stainless steel pans and pots

The great thing about life is that we never stop learning. Just when we thought that we have it all figured out, we discover something new and realize there is more room for learning life’s little secrets.

The best example would be cleaning cookware, particularly stainless steel. We mean, how hard can it really be to clean the stainless steel pots and pans?

Don’t you just need detergent, warm water, and a sponge? Oh, sweet summer child.

There are several secrets you must know if you want to learn how to clean stainless steel pans and pots. Stick with us to find them out and to return the shine to your stainless steel cookware.

Common mistakes when cleaning stainless steel cookware

First things first. Let’s take a look at some common mistakes on how to clean stainless steel pans.

Using abrasive cleaners

Abrasive cleaners indeed work wonders when it comes to removing burnt food. They quickly release the food from the bottom of the cookware which makes cleanup almost effortless and definitely prompt.

However, this type of cleaner is not such a marvelous option for cleaning stainless steel pans (and stainless steel pots) and nonstick cookware because it’s too aggressive. Abrasive cleaners may damage the surface of your cookware which can lead to chemicals leaching into the food or decreasing the lifespan of cookware.

If you are dealing with stubborn stains and want to call for a backup, try one of the non-abrasive cleaners or cleaners specifically designed for stainless steel cookware.

Using metal pads

Another common mistake that many of us have made at least once in life is cleaning stainless steel pots and pans with a metal scouring pad. Just like abrasive cleaners, a metal scouring pad could damage the cookware. Instead, opt for a nylon scouring pad or nylon brush. These are also efficient in cleaning, minus the damaging effect on your stainless steel cookware that their metal counterparts have.

Using the dishwasher

Who doesn’t love the convenience of putting dirty dishes in the machine and letting IT do the job instead of us? Still, we cannot put any kind of cookware in it. Stainless steel is expensive cookware that can last for years and years, withstanding rigorous use and helping you cook delicious food. But, despite its tough design, stainless steel isn’t indestructible.

Putting the cookware in the dishwasher may be a quick and easy way to have your dishes cleaned, but it can also cause the dishes to stain and scratch, decreasing their lifespan. It’s best to go with an old-fashioned hand wash in this case. So, how do we do that?

How to clean stainless steel pans and pots

Now that we’ve covered the common mistakes of cleaning stainless steel cookware, let’s talk about different ways of cleaning it. Considering that stainless steel cookware is one of the bests, it’s certainly worth investing AND taking care of. If you take good care of your pots and pans, you will enjoy their alliance for years to come. With that in mind, we reveal you some tips and tricks on how to clean stainless steel pots and pans.

How bad is it?

How bad is it? – This is the first thing you would want to ask yourself when you think about how to clean stainless steel cookware. Does that pan only need to get back its original sparkle? Or does it have a big bad food spot that you can’t get rid of? So, take a gooooood look at that pan, or pot and try to determine the complexity of the stain. After that, you just need to pick the best way to clean stainless steel pans. Here we offer several of them.

Water stains

If you live in an area with hard tap water, chances are your stainless steel cookware looks a bit spotted. It’s probably covered in tiny white circles. Well, not to worry, this can easily be fixed. These are just water stains (the direct result of the calcium deposit).

To remove them, add 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water to the cookware. Bring it to a boil, and then remove from the heat. Let it cool for an hour or two. Lastly, wash the cookware with hot water and detergent. Don’t forget to wipe it with a kitchen towel to prevent stains from appearing.

Burnt food

When you feel like nothing goes your way, including cooking, at least you can easily remove that burnt food. There are several ways to do this.

The first one is to fill the cookware with hot water and add a few drops of detergent. Let it sit for a couple of hours. The mixture will help release the food so you can scrub it with a nylon scouring pad. This does include some grueling work but it’s not like you have to be Rocky Balboa to successfully clean the stainless steel cookware.

The second way is to add hot, soapy water to the cookware and then bring it to a boil. Let it boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the stove and let it cool. After that, use a nylon brush or scouring pad to clean the cookware. Once again, remember to dry the cookware with a cloth.

If you are a fan of natural cleaners for cookware, you’ll love this one! Make a mixture of baking soda and water then apply to the spots that need to be cleaned. Leave it there for one-two hours. Use a nylon brush to remove the stains or burnt food. Then rinse with water and dry.

Make it shine again

Do you only want to bring back the old sparkle to your stainless steel pots and pans? Here’s how to clean stainless steel pans and other dishes. Apply baking soda on the cookware but make sure first you rinse it. Leave it for 15-20 minutes and then rub with a sponge.


  • My stainless steel pan is brown on the outside. Can you tell how to remove stains from stainless steel pans?

You can try Bar Keepers Friend.

  • Is vinegar safe for stainless steel cookware?

Yes, it is. We’ve talked about how to clean stainless steel pans with vinegar above, so take a look.

  • Can I bleach stainless steel?

Using bleach is a big NO with this type of cookware.

  • How to clean stainless steel pans from fingerprints?

Read this article to find out several ways to make your stainless steel cookware spotless.

  • I’ve left my stainless steel pan on high heat. How to clean it?

Cover the surface with baking soda and pour warm water. Use a nylon brush and scrub it after one hour. Rinse the cookware and then wash it with detergent and warm water. Dry it.

The bottom line

We hope these tips and tricks on how to clean stainless steel pans inspired you to take good care of your stainless steel cookware!

Joseph is the founder and Chief Editor of "Indoor To Outdoor". He is an entrepreneur with experience in sales of household products. He also travels a lot, takes pictures and loves to ride a bike.

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