How to Clean Stainless Steel Cookware Thoroughly

Clean Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel cookware is durable, non-toxic, and stands up well to regular use. However, like any frequently used pots, pans, or other cookware, stainless steel can accumulate burnt-on food, grease residue, and discoloration over time.

So how can you clean stainless steel cookware properly and make it look brand new? The good news is that with the right cleaning methods, you can easily remove stuck-on grime and restore your cookware to a shiny, like-new condition.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about cleaning all types of stainless steel cookware and keeping it in tip-top shape. You’ll learn the benefits of keeping your cookware clean, what supplies to have on hand, step-by-step cleaning methods using natural ingredients like baking soda and vinegar, how to tackle stubborn stains, and maintenance tips for preventing future buildup.

With these simple yet effective techniques, you can get cooked-on messes off your stainless steel cookware while avoiding damage. Let’s dive in!

Why It’s Important to Clean Stainless Steel Cookware Regularly

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to clean stainless steel cookware, let’s review why it’s important to clean it regularly in the first place:

  • Removes cooked-on food and grease – This helps your cookware maintain its shine and prevents burnt-on residues from becoming even harder to remove down the road.
  • Kills bacteria – Grease and food debris left on cookware can breed bacteria over time. A thorough cleaning gets rid of these germs.
  • Extends lifespan – Letting food and oils sit on stainless steel for too long can start to break down the protective finish leading to discoloration and corrosion over time.
  • Improves conductivity – Keeping your stainless steel cookware free of baked-on gunk allows for better heat flow. This leads to more even and efficient cooking.
  • Restores luster – Over time, routine cleaning will make dull, lackluster cookware shine like new again. Stainless steel should have a bright, reflective surface when properly cleaned.

Regular cleaning is worth the minimal time and effort required. Even if you only spend 10 minutes per week tidying up your cookware, you’ll enjoy the many benefits above.

Supplies You’ll Need to Clean Stainless Steel Cookware

Having the right gear on hand makes cleaning stainless steel a whole lot easier. Here are the basic supplies you’ll want to have in your arsenal:

  • Baking soda – Acts as a gentle abrasive to lift off cooked-on grease and residue. Make a paste for extra cleaning power.
  • White vinegar – Removes grease buildup and acts as a disinfectant. Combine with baking soda for an effective one-two punch.
  • Dish soap – Helps cut through oily grime. Look for eco-friendly brands to avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Soft sponge – Gently removes stuck-on food without scratching. Choose a sponge with a plastic scrubbing side.
  • Soft cloth – Absorbs cleaning mixture and buffs away fingerprints or water spots. Microfiber or terry cloth work well.
  • Stainless steel polish – Optional but helps restore shine and luster after cleaning. Also fills in fine scratches over time.
  • Olive oil – Alternative to stainless polish that adds a protective barrier and subtle shine when buffed in.

With these basic cleaning supplies, you can take on most messes and stains in stainless steel cookware. Now let’s get down to business!

Step-By-Step Guide to Cleaning Stainless Steel Cookware

Follow these simple steps for sparkling clean stainless steel cookware every time:

1. Remove Excess Debris and Soak

Before scrubbing away baked-on residue, it helps to remove any loose food particles or greasy buildup first. Start by wiping out any leftover food debris with a paper towel. Use a soft spatula to gently scrape off any chunks stuck to the surface.

For cookware with really stubborn baked-on stains, fill it with warm water and let it soak for 20-30 minutes. This allows grease and burnt food to soften up and makes scrubbing much easier later on.

2. Apply Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda works wonders for cleaning stainless steel thanks to its mildly abrasive texture. To really up its grime-fighting power, make a paste by mixing 3 parts baking soda with 1 part water. Add just enough water so the paste is spreadable but not runny.

Use a soft sponge or cloth to generously coat the inside and outside of the cookware with the paste. Don’t be shy with it—the more you apply, the better it will clean.

Pro Tip: For extreme buildup, make the paste extra thick and let it sit on the cookware for anywhere from 20 minutes up to overnight before scrubbing. This allows the baking soda to penetrate deeper to lift off stubborn grease and residues.

3. Pour on Vinegar

Here’s where the magic happens! Take plain white vinegar and pour or spray it directly onto the baking soda paste. You’ll see an instant fizzing and bubbling reaction take place. This is caused by the acid in the vinegar reacting with the alkaline baking soda.

Besides making a fun science experiment, this chemical reaction helps break down tough, oily grease while the vinegar disinfects the surface. Let the mixture fizzle and foam for at least 5 minutes before scrubbing for maximum effect.

4. Scrub Gently With a Soft Sponge

Once the vinegar and baking soda have had time to work their cleaning magic, it’s time to scrub. Use a soft sponge, cloth, or plastic scrub pad and gently buff the paste over the entire surface of the cookware—inside and out.

Take care not to scrub too vigorously or you could risk scratching the stainless steel finish. The paste does the tough work of lifting dirt and residue. Your motions just help remove it.

Be thorough and pay extra attention to cooked-on areas. You may need to re-apply paste and vinegar to spots that need some extra elbow grease.

5. Rinse Cookware Thoroughly

After scrubbing every nook and cranny, it’s time to rinse. Use the hottest water from your tap and rinse the cookware inside and out until the water runs clear. This washes away any leftover gunk and cleaning residue.

Tip: Air-drying stainless steel can lead to unsightly water spots. For best results, hand dry cookware immediately with a clean, soft towel after rinsing.

6. Address Stubborn Stains

If any cooked-on stains or discoloration remain after the main scrub-down, try this extra step. Make a paste with lemon juice and salt. Apply to stained areas and let sit for 5 minutes before a final rinse and dry. The citric acid in lemon juice helps brighten stainless steel.

For the toughest grease spots that defy all other methods, whip up a concentrated paste using 2-3 tablespoons baking soda and just enough water to form a spreadable paste. Coat stubborn spots, let sit overnight, then scrub clean in the morning.

How to Maintain a Sparkling Finish

Proper maintenance between cleanings is key to keeping your stainless steel cookware looking pristine. Make it a habit to wipe down the interior cooking surface after each use with a soft cloth or paper towel. This prevents food residues from getting baked on and removes any oils or sauces that could lead to staining.

It’s also recommended to wash cookware shortly after cooking, rather than letting it sit dirty for prolonged periods. The quicker you can rinse away food debris, the easier cleanup will be later on. When ready to wash, resist the temptation to let pans soak overnight. While this may loosen baked-on food, prolonged soaking can dull the shiny surface over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still, have some lingering questions on the best ways to clean stainless steel cookware? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions:

What about using steel wool or abrasive scrubbers?

Never use steel wool, metal scouring pads, or abrasive scrub brushes on stainless steel cookware. They will scratch the finish. Stick to soft sponges, cloths, and plastic scrub pads only.

How can I make stainless steel shine like new?

For cookware that’s lost its luster over time, use a stainless steel polish or buff in a thin coat of olive oil to restore shine. Baking soda and vinegar also help brighten dull finishes when used regularly.

What’s the white film on my cookware and how do I remove it?

White residue or clouding on stainless steel is usually mineral deposits from water or soap scum. To remove, scrub with a baking soda paste then rinse very thoroughly. Always dry immediately after washing to prevent water spots.

How do I get rid of brown stains on the exterior of cookware?

Brown discoloration on the exterior bottom is usually caused by high heat. Bar Keepers Friend or Comet cleanser with bleach can help remove these stains. Avoid scouring too hard.

Can I ruin stainless steel if I don’t clean it enough?

Yes, failing to clean stainless steel cookware regularly can eventually lead to corrosion, pitting, and rust if left greasy long enough. Get into the habit of quick cleanings to preserve your cookware.

The Takeaway on Cleaning Stainless Steel Cookware

While stainless steel cookware is durable, it still requires regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent damage and keep it looking shiny and new. Thankfully, you can easily remove baked-on grease, food residues, stains, and discoloration at home with ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice.

Following the steps in this guide, you’ll be able to clean your cookware thoroughly and restore its luster. Pair that with weekly polishing and being mindful of how you care for stainless steel, and your cookware will sparkle like new for years to come.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *