How to Clean Stainless Steel Pans and Pots

Good quality stainless steel pots and pans are essential to every kitchen. They can withstand high-heat cooking and can even be popped into the oven for dishes that need a nice broil on top.

Proper use and care are very important to keeping your stainless steel pots and pans in tiptop condition. And this is what we’re going to talk about today: how to clean stainless steel pans and pots.

cleaning stainless steel pots and pans

Many are daunted at the prospect of having to deal with the mess that could potentially happen afterward. But don’t fret. There are several ways to make the task of cleaning stainless-steel pots and pans easier. Let’s check them out now!

The Simple Scrub

If you have not been cooking heavy stuff and your pan is only left with a few food stains, it is best to manually remove all the food particles.

Use a non-abrasive dishwashing solution and gently scrub away with the coarser part of your sponge then run through warm water.

If you find hard-to-remove particles stuck to the surface, fill the pan or pot with warm water and a squirt of dishwashing solution and let it sit at least for a few minutes. Most food particles loosen and will easily come off by simply scrubbing them off.

This is the basic cleaning method for stainless pots and pans. But cooking is complicated and there are instances when cleaning entails a little bit more. Let’s look at some options that you can easily do at home.

Solutions for Dirtier Cleaning Stainless Pots and Pans

Browning some chicken wings, searing lamb chops, or making some caramelized onions will scorch your pan bottom.

Don’t fret – stainless pots and pans are very sturdy and can withstand good scrubbing.

But why put them under so much wear and tear when there are ways to help you use less muscle while clearing them on cooking residue?

Cleaning Burnt Bottoms

The steps to ridding stainless steel pots and pans of stubborn cooking stains are simple and similar.

stainless steel pot

We shall go through the process then show the different kinds of cleaning solutions that you can add to make removal easier.

  1. After cooking, make sure all food particles that can be easily removed are taken away from the pan bottom.
  2. Warm your pan up on the stove and when you feel it heat up, pour enough water to cover the base of the pan. This process is the same as deglazing a pan but put only enough water to cover the bottom.
  3. With a wooden spatula or spoon, start scraping the bottom as the water heats. You will notice that the grime gradually loosens and lifts. Continue to do that until you are satisfied then turn the heat off.
  4. Add a solution that will continue to soften and lift the dirt as your pan cools. Here are some options you can choose from.

If you have it at home and prefer to use them, you can use abrasive dishwashing cleaners like Bon Ami (affiliate link) or your regular dishwashing soap or paste.

Just remember these stronger cleaners can contain chemicals that may leach into the pans as they tend to create etches on the surface as you scrub and clean.

Check your pantry for any of these high acidity level ingredients – lemons, limes, or vinegar. You can pour or squeeze some on the hot water and leave it to soften the grime.

These three are very effective in dissolving scum because of their innate high alkaline levels. Read more about the best organic kitchen cleaners here.

You can also use a combination of vinegar and lemon or lime plus a few tablespoons of baking soda. This is also very effective in loosening dirt in the bottom of your stainless cookware.

After a few minutes of letting your cleaning solution sit and the temperature of the water has gone down but not necessarily cooled, start scouring the bottom with a light scrub.

Once a good deal of grime has been released, you can run warm water over it to wash the dirt out.

Continue scrubbing until clean. You might want to run it through a second light scrubbing using your normal dishwashing solution.

Cleaning Harder Stains in Stainless Pots and Pans

There will always be those challenging but scrumptious dishes that you whip up that will leave you with a cleaning disaster.

stainless steel pots and pans

After doing the steps mentioned above, you still find a considerable amount of grime on your stainless pot or pan, try these methods.

  1. Make a paste out of baking soda, dishwashing paste, and, if available, elbow grease. Coat it on the dirty surfaces and scrub. Repeat if necessary and let it sit longer as well. Always use a scrub that isn’t worn out when dealing with scorched bottoms.
  2. Add clean water and several tablespoons of baking soda and vinegar into your stainless pot or pan. The amount would vary depending on the size of your cookware. Around a full tablespoon of baking soda and 1/3 cup of vinegar per 2 cups of water is okay – but you can always up the quantities since they are quite safe to use.
  3. Another very easy technique is to place some baking soda in the center of the pan and cover it with half a cup of water. It should be able to cover at least half the circumference of your pot or pan bottom. Place it on the stove and heat it until most of the water has evaporated. You will notice a film of baking soda on the bottom and walls of your cookware. Turn off the heat.

With a long-handled scouring brush, start scrubbing the bottom and sides of your pan while it is still hot. Remember to use a mott or glove to shield your hand. This is most effective for pans that have been freshly scorched.

Removing Food and Burn Stains from Stainless Pot Exteriors

If you’re just so fed up with your dingy-looking pans but still serviceable stainless pots and pans, there is something you can do to clean them up.

While there is no guarantee that it’ll bring it up to its original shine, it will most certainly make it look cleaner and shiner.

Follow these simple steps to tidy up your stainless-steel pot or pan exterior.

  1. Choose cookware that will fit the pan or pot in question inside. You can use bigger-sized cookware like stockpots, roasting pans, or deep-dish stove-top-safe trays where you can immerse your stained pot or pan.
  2. Fill your bigger cookware with enough water so that when you put the dirty cookware in, the water doesn’t spill over when displaced. Bring the water to a boil.
  3. Pour a generous amount of baking soda into the water and stir.
  4. Reduce the heat so that water bubbles down to a gentler boil then immerse the pan in question.
  5. Allow it to gently “simmer” and you will notice the grime start to flake off.
  6. Remove the dirty pan carefully out of the hot water. Remember to use gloves or a mitt!
  7. Break down the remaining stains by adding baking soda on the surface and scrubbing briskly while the pan is hot. Watch as the remaining grime gets removed.
  8. While you’re at this more thorough washing, don’t forget to brush and scrape the sides of the handles and rivets with something pointed. Make sure to be careful when doing this step.

Extra tips to care for Stainless-Steel Pots and Pans

stainless steel cookware

No matter how many techniques there are to help us clean our stainless-steel pots and pans, there are some things that we can do to make the task of cleaning up these stubborn messes easier. Here are some of them:

  • When cooking, always preheat your pan prior then preheating your oil or cooking fat before chucking raw meat into the pan. This prevents any raw meat from sticking on the pan’s surface.
  • Pat your meats dry of their marinade if your goal is browning or searing. This will prevent that layer of moisture that renders discoloration to your pot or pan bottom.
  • It’s always much easier to wash your scorched stainless pot or pan as soon as you can after cooking.
  • If you have persistent water spots after washing, rinse with warm water and change your dishwashing solution. Adding a bit of vinegar during a warm wash also helps.
  • If you do use a dishwasher for cleaning your stainless-steel pots and pans, remove them after the wash cycle. Hand-dry them well afterward.
  • Remove hard water stains on your stainless-steel cookware by boiling a mixture of vinegar and water in the pot. A measurement of one part vinegar to three parts of water is sufficient. Bring water to a boil and let it cool. Once it is manageable, scrub it with hot, soapy water and dry it well.
  • Don’t use metal scouring pads or abrasive cleaners when not needed. There are other types better for gentler washing like nylon brushes or nylon-net pads.
  • Never use chlorine bleach on stainless steel! It was damage and stain your cookware.


Now that we know how simple and easy it is to clean up after scorching our stainless-steel pots and pans, there is no need to hesitate to whip up those scrumptious recipes!

We just need to be aware of what we can do to lessen the grime as well as know the proper cooking and care techniques to have a better experience with stainless-steel cookware.

And then move on to removing grease from your kitchen cabinets. Because cleaning never ends…

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