Stainless Steel Cookware Cleaning & Care

Whether you have a new stainless steel cookware set, or want to learn more about cleaning your existing kitchen pots and pans, there are some basic measures you can take to protect your investment.  With the proper cleaning and care, your stainless pots and pans can last for many years and help you cook many meals.  Let us now take a closer look at some fundamental cleaning and care techniques which will enable you to get the most from your stainless cookware set.

Everyday Cooking

Before cooking anything on your stove or in the oven, it is important that the stainless steel pots and pans you are using have been properly cleaned with mild dish detergent.  Should even small amounts of burned food be present, it may become even more difficult to remove after going through an additional heat cycle.  Additionally, adequately cleaned pots and pans are essential for healthy cooking.  Please note that detailed cleaning instructions will be provided later in this stainless steel cookware cleaning and care guide.

Most stainless steel pots and pans are designed to efficiently conduct heat and distribute it evenly.  Because of this, it is important to avoid cooking anything on high heat.  Not only is cooking with high heat unnecessary, but you run the risk of burning the food which you are preparing.  In most cases, cooking with low to medium heat is ideal.  When water must be brought to a boil, it is best to use medium-high heat only.

When you are preparing food on the stove, stirring the food with wooden or plastic utensils is extremely important.  While you can use steel utensils, they do have a tendency to scratch stainless steel.  Such scratches make it much easier for food to collect in these tiny crevices and will be more difficult to clean.

After your meal has been prepared, immediately remove the pot or pan from hot burners.  Doing so will reduce the opportunity for food in the bottom of the pot or pan to continue cooking and possibly burning.  Additionally, empty stainless steel pots and pans which are left on a hot burner have nothing to transfer heat to except themselves.  By limiting unnecessary heat exposure to your cookware, and by limiting the burning of food, your after meal cleaning tasks will be much easier.

Normal Cleaning

Once your meal has been prepared, and the cookware is allowed to cool, it is best to soak the pots and pans with hot water and light detergent until a more thorough cleaning can be performed.  Soaking will prevent residual food from drying out, which can make it even more stubborn to remove.  Additionally, soaking pots and pans in light detergent will also help to break the bond between caked on food and stainless steel.

Although most stainless steel cookware may be washed inside of a dishwasher, certain considerations must be made to keep your pots and pans in excellent condition.  First, other items inside the dishwasher may potentially come into contact with your cookware and scratch the stainless steel.  This may be avoided by allowing enough clearance between your cookware and other plates, bowls and other dinnerware.  Secondly, you must note that stainless steel will discolor when exposed to some dishwasher detergents.  Because of this, it is preferable to avoid lemon scented dishwasher detergent and any detergent which is abrasive.

Many individuals clean their stainless steel cookware by hand, using a mild detergent and soft dish cloth.  In most cases this is sufficient for cleaning pots and pans.  However, it is very important to avoid using any abrasive cleaners during the hand washing process.  Steel wool and other metal pads can leave coarse scratches, while certain chemical cleaners can cause staining.  A soft towel and some Dawn detergent are best for hand washing your stainless steel cookware.


Once your stainless steel pots and pans are thoroughly cleaned, it is important to dry them immediately afterwards to avoid spots.  While these spots do not present any risk to your health or the cookware itself, spotting is quite noticeable on any stainless steel product.

Removing Burned Food

Regardless of how careful you are, at some point you will be faced with the challenge of removing burned food from a stainless steel pot or pan.  When you encounter this situation, it is best to soak the pot or pan in about one inch of hot water which contains a tablespoon of mild detergent.  After the pot or pan soaks for an hour, you may bring it to a boil on the stove and reduce the heat so that it simmers for fifteen minutes.  Once the heating process has been completed, move the pot or pan to another burner so that it may naturally cool.  Once the stainless steel pot or pan has cooled, use a soft dish cloth or plastic spatula to clean out the residue.  In most cases this will allow you to easily remove stubborn burned food deposits from any stainless steel pot or pan.  If boiling does not work at first, remove as much residue as possible and repeat the boiling process to remove the remaining residual burnt food from your cookware.

Removing Stains

The water coming from our kitchen faucets does contain trace minerals and other chemicals which may interact with stainless steel.  Because of this, it is not uncommon for calcium deposit stains to appear on your cookware.  These calcium deposits can be quickly removed with warm vinegar.  Food stains, such as those created by oatmeal, can be removed by using Bar Keepers Friend, Cameo or any other nonabrasive cleaning product designed specifically for use on stainless steel.  Be especially cautious when selecting a product for stain removal as most of these businesses also sell abrasive cleaning products as well.

Burner Stain Removal

As with any cookware, stainless steel will develop stains on the bottom of the pots and pans which come into contact with the stove burner.  In most cases ordinary oven cleaner may be used to remove these stains.  If using oven cleaner on the bottom of a stainless steel pot or pan, it is very important to avoid getting this cleaner on any other portion of the cookware as it may stain.

Proper Storage

One area of stainless steel cookware care where many people falter is in how they store their pots and pans.  Placing other pots and pans inside each other can cause deep scratches.  It is best to avoid storing other items in any cookware to prolong the life and performance of your stainless steel pots and pans.


It is our hope that the directions noted above will assist you in caring for your stainless steel cookware.  Although these cleaning and care tips are ideal for most stainless steel pots and pans, it is important that you read the owner’s manual that was supplied with your cookware set.  The manufacturer of your cookware may have specific cleaning and care instructions which supplements this comprehensive guide.

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