How to Clean Your Stainless Steel Pans, According to a Pro
it’s called the stainless do not stainfree. Cooks – amateurs and professionals alike – buy stainless steel pots and pans for their ability to reach hellish levels of heat, without having to worry about seasoning and cleaning. While this sizzling pan is great for getting a delicious crust on your food, it’s also what causes problems for your pan when dishes need to be done. Your stainless steel pot is prone to staining, but no stain is impervious to the elbow grease and a few essentials under the sink that you already have (or may have in the next few hours). We asked ‘Top Chef’ Season 16 winner Kelsey Barnard Clark how she keeps her stainless steel cookware clean after constant use and abuse. From daily maintenance to removing the stuck-up bits you’ve just learned to live with, here’s how to clean your stainless steel pans to keep them looking like new.
For daily cleaning and regular messes
So you’re done cooking a meal in your stainless steel pan. You have some oil left and some stuck together – what should a cook do? The answer is to start cleaning before you start digging. “I can’t stress enough that it’s always ideal to clean dishes right after use,” says Clark. “I know it’s tempting to let them sit until the next morning, but cool is best under any circumstances.”
And while the dishwasher may seem like an easy way out, it’s best to hand wash. Clark certainly does. “At my house, we only use our dishwasher after dinner or as a drying rack,” she says. Many stainless steel cookware claim to be dishwasher safe, but washing by hand avoids much of the risk you face when considering the dishwasher as a quick fix. The mixture of abrasive detergents and humid environment can corrode the metal.
Start by taking a paper towel to soak up all the excess fat. This will reduce the amount of oil you end up rubbing on your stove as you clean, and it will also reduce the likelihood of developing a fatberg or clogging the sink. Scrape off all the pieces and throw them in the trash, then you’re ready to start cleaning. The best way to clean a stainless steel skillet after it’s just been used is to make sure it’s still hot (or hot enough that you can touch it) while you clean. Add hot water to loosen stuck-on leftovers, but avoid shocking your hot pan with cold water, which could warp your cookware.
Hot, soapy water is the way to go, Clark says. She insists on only using a soft sponge, avoiding anything rough like a Brillo abrasive pad. Next is Clark’s secret to maintaining the longevity of his stainless steel cookware. “To keep them shiny and like new, I love using Bar Keepers Friend after cleaning – nothing beats that!” she says.
For those messes that are difficult to clean up
So maybe you’ve waited too long to start cleaning, and those burnt bits seem to have definitely made their home in your pan. If the elbow grease and all the soap in the world don’t, Clark’s recipe for cleaning might do the trick.
“For hard-to-clean messes, I always combine about four cups of hot water, a tablespoon of Dawn soap, and 1 tablespoon of baking soda,” says Clark. “Let it boil, then simmer in your pan for about 30 minutes. This usually lifts those really stuck on the spots better.”
Once it’s cool enough to handle, go to town on your stove as you normally would. Hot water, soap, and a soft sponge are the perfect choice when it comes to cleaning your cookware, and some stubborn stains won’t make a difference.
For white and chalky residue
After you’ve cleaned your stove (thoroughly, and following these instructions no less!), You may notice that your stove still looks a bit off. The surface of your pot may have a strange cloudy substance forming, and this is all due to tap water. Hard water, which contains large amounts of calcium, is the result of your chalk residue, and cleaning up is even easier than cleaning up stuck-on food bits.
Fill your saucepan with one part vinegar to three parts water and let it boil before putting it back off the heat and allowing it to cool. Wash the pan as usual, then dry it with a clean towel to prevent harder water spots from forming.
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