Cleaning stainless steel cookware is not impossible and it doesn't even have to be difficult. Stainless steel cookware is a popular choice in many home and professional kitchens. By taking proper care of your stainless steel pots and pans you can keep them looking great for many years, even if you use them every day.
About Cleaning Stainless Steel Cookware
Avoid Abrasive Cleaning Products
Stainless steel scratches easily. While scratches won't impact the functionality of your cookware, it's certainly best to avoid using cleaning techniques that will mar the appearance of your pots and pans. If you want to keep your stainless steel cookware looking great, avoid using any kind of abrasive cleaning product. This includes cleaning solutions that contain abrasive matter, such as Soft Scrub, as well as scrubbing tools like Brillo pads, steel wool, or the abrasive side of heavy-duty Scotch Brite sponges.
Use Soapy Water and Soft Cloth
Unless you are dealing with burned or dried on food, you can probably take care of getting your pots and pans clean with lukewarm water combined with a mild detergent. Rather than scrubbing with an abrasive surface, it's best to use a soft dishcloth or plain sponge when cleaning stainless cookware.
You can start out by filling one side of your kitchen sink with lukewarm water, adding a small amount of detergent while the faucet is running. Be sure to leave enough room in the sink to add the items you want to clean without resulting in an overflow. Dunk each item that you want to clean into the sink bowl, a few pieces at a time. Alternately, you may want to run water directly into each pot that you are cleaning, adding a few drops of soap as the water is running.
Using your soft cloth or sponge, gently rub the entire inside surface of the pot or pan that you are cleaning. Once you have wiped the entire surface, pour the soapy water that is inside the cookware piece down the drain in the other side of the sink. Next, rinse with cold water until all of the soap suds are gone. Verify that the item is clean and repeat the washing and rinsing process if necessary.
Dry each item with a soft cloth and place back in your cabinets for future use.
Difficult Stainless Cookware Cleaning Challenges
Removing Burned Food
While a combination of detergent and water will work for most stainless cookware cleaning needs, this technique will not be effective in every situation. For example, burned food will likely stick to stainless steel and cannot be removed with just soap and water. If you are facing the challenge of needing to remove dried on burned food from your cookware, try making a thick paste from baking soda and cold water. Apply the paste to the affected area and allow it to sit for approximately two hours. Then, add a small amount of cold water to soften the paste and wipe away with a soft sponge or cloth. This should loosen the burned food, allowing you to rinse it away and continue cleaning the pot or pan with lukewarm water and detergent.
If this does not work completely, repeat the process until all of the burned food is gone or until you stop seeing progress with stain removal. If you are not able to eliminate the stain using this technique, you may need to use a commercial cleaning product.
Getting Rid of White Streaks
With normal use, the surfaces of stainless steel cookware pieces often become marred with white streaks. This occurs as a result of calcium that deposits on the metal as a result of cooking. While these white streaks don't affect cooking quality or impact the flavor of the food, they can be unsightly. In most cases, they can be removed simply by soaking the affected pieces in vinegar before normal washing procedures.
Commercial Stainless Cookware Cleaners
You may need or want to use commercial cleaning products for your cleaning stainless steel cookware needs. A few products that you may want to try include: