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Cleaning Stainless Steel Cookware

A badly burned stainless steel pan

Daily use can leave your shiny stainless steel cookware discolored or burnt. This is a guide about cleaning stainless steel cookware.


Solutions: Cleaning Stainless Steel Cookware

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Switching to Stainless Steel Pot and Pans

I switched to all stainless steel pots and pans a few years back when the news came out about the fumes from scratched non stick pans was potentially caustic. It took some getting used to cooking wise. I kept having stuff stick and I had a hard time cleaning the pots and pans. The scrubbers made specifically for the stainless steel pots and pans were costly and did not last.

I was frustrated with some baked on egg in my pan and grabbed the baking soda from the fridge and instantly cleaned the dried on egg I had been wrestling to get out. I have perfected it now. If there is any grease residue in the pan I will first let it soak with a drop of dish liquid and hot water while I do the other dishes. Then I dump the liquid from the pan, squeeze out my scrubby sponge of most of its liquid, and sprinkle some baking soda around in the pan. With my sponge, I scrub it around both the inside and out. It makes a paste and removes anything stuck on and polished the stainless as well. Rinse well and your pots and pans will be clean and look like new. YEA!

By Cheryl from Smithsburg, MD

Tip: Removing Burnt On Food

To easily remove burnt on food from your skillet, simply add a drop or two of dish soap and enough water to cover bottom of pan and bring to a boil on stove top.

By Jodi from Aurora, CO

Tip: Discolored Stainless Steel Pans

I find that using liquid bleach on the inside of my stainless steel pans removes tea stains immediately. You can add a little water if you'd like, but I just pour a small amount in the pan, swirl it around and dump it into the next pan with the stains and works great. I rinse the clean pan immediately so the bleaching will stop right away.

By BonsterBonnie from Maryland

Tip: Brillo for Stainless Cookware

I was reading all the tips on stainless steel cookware. I clean mine with soap pads. It seems the more I scrub the brighter they shine! Just sayin.

    By Marty Dick [163]

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    Here are questions related to Cleaning Stainless Steel Cookware.

    Question: Removing Burn Marks from a Stainless Steel Pot

    How do you remove burnt popcorn from stainless steel pots? I have scrubbed with Comet and pads that won't scratch.

    By Linda from Syracuse, NY


    Most Recent Answer

    By Runner Angi06/28/2011

    I turned the exterior of my calphalon pot yellow by boiling the water out of it. I only had rice vinegar, and I poured it into hot hot dishwater and soaked the pot. It worked beautifully!

    Question: Finish Dull Inside Stainless Steel Pan

    The finish is very flat instead of shiny inside my stainless steel pan from boiling water to humidify the air. How can I get the shine back?

    By Bunny


    Most Recent Answer

    By Gloria Z [10]04/11/2015

    Heat the pan on the stove. Pour 1 or 2 teas. olive oil into pan. Swirl oil around pan. Remove from heat take a small piece of paper towel & rub oil into pan being careful not to burn yourself. Remove excess oil and let pan air dry.

    This will give you a good shiny pan and one that won't burn your food provided you know how to cook. Hint: most women think they need to have the flame on high to cook things faster. Wrong - all they'll accomplish is burning the food and ruining the pan. Then you'll have to start all over again with cleaning the pan!

    Question: Rust on Stainless Steel Pot

    One of my stainless steel pots has little rust stains from a leak I had in one of my cabinets. Does anyone know how to safely get them out?

    Sara in FL

    Most Recent Answer

    By Kevin (Guest Post)01/02/2009

    If it's something you dont want scratched like a gun, you can use #OOOO stainless steel pads and WD-40.

    Question: Burnt Mac and Cheese In a Stainless Steel Pot

    I burned mac and cheese on my new frugal stainless steel pot and I can't for the love of god get this thing to come clean, please help. It's been soaking for 3 days and still nothing. I tried to scrub it, baking soda, boil soap, nothing works, HELP.

    Kimberly from Akron, Ohio

    Most Recent Answer

    By Monica02/21/2009

    Borax, your fav dishwashing soap, & hot water should bring it back to life. You may even soak it a bit with Borax & hot water. Every thing from mac & cheese to rice has been burnt in ours & Borax seems to be the magic to bring it back to being new, again.

    Question: Using WD-40 to Clean Stainless Steel Cookware

    I've been told to use WD-40 to clean the burnt stainless cookware I have. Has anyone else ever tried this method?

    By Brian from San Francisco, CA

    Most Recent Answer

    By vicki02/12/2010

    When I burn something in one of my stainless pots, before I scrub, I put warm water in the pot, just enough to cover the bottom, heat to boiling and using a spatula scape the burnt stuff off. This cleans the majority off and then let it sit over night with a little dawn and water. Comes clean every time. I also use the Bar Keeper stainless cleaner when I want to shine up the pots.

    Question: Cleaning a Burned Stainless Steel Pan

    photo of interior of burned stainless steel frying panHow do I remove the stain from a stainless steel fry pan? The burnt on food has been removed, but the stain is still there. An help would be appreciated.

    By Roberta

    Most Recent Answer

    By Noella [11]07/12/2011

    Barkeepers Friend

    Question: Cleaning a Burned Stainless Steel Pan

    How do I remove black burnt stains and restore luster/brilliance to interior of a pan? While boiling eggs I forgot and the water boiled out! My aluminum stainless steel pan has black burnt marks and no luster. I left baking soda in pan to many days and still have black burnt stains and no luster to pan. What do I do to restore pan?

    By Peggy B.

    Most Recent Answer

    By carolyn [8]01/06/2012

    I forgot to mention that you should let it sit overnite. I usually stick the pan in the oven.

    Question: Removing Stains on a Stainless Steel Pan

    I fell asleep on the couch shortly after I'd put water on to boil in a Revere Ware saucepan. It's somewhat discolored, usable, but discolored. Any ideas on how to get it shinier? I also, have a frying pan with the same discoloration. It's old, but still usable.

    By the way, to get copper bottomed sauce and frying pans clean, there's a great product named Penny Brite by a company called EZ Brite here in Westlake, OH. Website is The paste really works wonders. The frying pan I mentioned above was my mother's and I've had it at least since the 80's and she had it for years before that. Penny Brite makes it look great at least on the outside.

    The inside has seen many a meal. It's still very usable, but the metal has kind of a bluish tint to it. In other words, the metal in it has somewhat discolored. Anyway, any help anyone can provide would be appreciated.

    By Judy from Willoughby, OH

    Most Recent Answer

    By DeAnna07/12/2010

    I've found a wonderful product called Bar Keeper's Friend and it is great for cleaning all my stainless steel posts and pans. I also use it to clean my sink. Good Luck.

    Question: Homemade Solution For Cleaning Stainless Steel Cookware

    Anyone have a homemade solution for cleaning stainless steel cookware? My cookware has been darkened by dirty gas burners. The cookware has copper bottoms.

    Sylvia from Barbados, W.I.

    Most Recent Answer

    By Patty [13]02/26/2011

    Make a paste of powdered cream of tartar (found in the spice section at most grocery stores) and vinegar. Smear a good amount on & let sit for a several minutes, then scrub right off! This removes the 'everlasting' black marks left after burning food!

    Question: Tea Stains on Stainless Steel Pots

    How do I clean a stainless steel teapot with lots of tea stains?

    By Dasguptat from Kolkata, W Bengal

    Most Recent Answer

    By Barbara [4]05/18/2011

    Put some clorox in the pot and fill with water. Let stand until the stains are gone. Doesn't take long. Wash well with soapy water and rinse well.

    Question: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

    How do I remove burnt cheese from a stainless steel pot?

    By Al from Erie, PA

    Most Recent Answer

    By Purple Lizzie02/21/2011

    After reading a few of these posts, I have just successfully removed the burnt bits from the bottom of my pan using a combination of malt vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. It made a satisfying hiss when I poured it in. I left it for around 30 mins then thought I would try and clean it. It came off really easily and is now sparkling! I am so relieved as the pan is new. Thanks v much x

    Question: Cleaning Burned Revere Ware Pot

    I am having problems cleaning a pot that has burned cranberry sauce in it. I let the cranberries cook too long. The inside of a Revere pot is now black. How can I clean it?

    By EH

    Most Recent Answer

    By HAPPYINHARNED [14]11/29/2011

    I have had success in the past with hot water and a fabric softner sheet, letting it soak an hour or two or overnight. Good Luck!

    Question: Removing Burns from Stainless Steel Pan

    I have stainless steel pan that my boyfriend used to toast bread. He burned the bread and then right after poured water into hot pan. The pan now has a copper color to it on bottom, sides, and inside. There is also crusty burned black bread inside that won't come off. The pan is new and I hate that the rest of the set is so nice looking! Any ideas on how to make it shine again? Especially, the outside of it where it totally changed color.

    By Jay from San Diego, CA

    Most Recent Answer

    By Elaine [173]03/08/2011

    I am with Sixcritters, I love Bar Keeper's Friend for everything!

    Question: Cleaning Stainless Steel Pans

    I need to clean the bottoms of stainless steel pots and pans. There is some old grease that I can't remove.

    By Olga from Tampa, FL

    Most Recent Answer

    By Joyce A Ratasepp [1]09/29/2010

    Elbow grease and magic erasers barkeeprs friend is also great

    Question: Burnt Stainless Steel Saucepan

    Once a stainless steel saucepan has been burnt, but then thoroughly cleaned, is it then more likely to burn again?

    By Val S.

    Most Recent Answer

    By Louise B. [6]10/13/2011


    Question: Burnt Oil on a Stainless Steel Pan

    How do I clean burnt oil from a stainless steel pan?

    By RichardT from Sterling Heights, MI

    Most Recent Answer

    By Bron [1]01/07/2011

    Hi Richard!
    What I do is to sprinkle liberally the burned part with baking soda, and then pour just enough water over the soda to make a paste. Let the pan sit overnight, and then take a scrubby and scrub the burned part. The debris should come off very easily, along with the baking soda paste.
    Easy, good for the environment, and cheap! :)
    Hope this helps,
    Bron from Augusta, Georgia

    Question: Cleaning a Burnt Stainless Steel Pot

    How do I get burned on popcorn out of my pot?

      By Joy R. [1]

      Most Recent Answer

      By Donna [280]05/22/2015

      For some burnt on messes you can add water to the pot and put it back on the stove until the water boils a while. Many times it pulls off the burnt materials. Good Luck!

      Question: Burnt Stainless Steel Saucepan

      I burnt my best saucepan. I filled it with water and detergent and left for 24 hours. It mostly came off, then I used a stainless steel soap pad which helped, but there are still block spots and discolouration on the bottom of the pan. Can I use the half vinegar and half water mixture to bring it back? And what can I use on the base of the pan as it is discoloured?

      By Edwina B

      Most Recent Answer

      By Litter Gitter [145]07/15/2012

      Easy-Off heavy duty oven cleaner might work. Spray it on and let it sit overnight.

      Question: Burnt Sugar in a Stainless Steel Pot

      How do I clean burnt sugar from an All Clad pan? It is badly burnt.

      By Barbara from Naples, FL

      Most Recent Answer

      By jean leiner [15]10/20/2010

      Try filling the pan with hot water and 1 cup of powdered dishwasher detergent. Bring to a boil on your stove, and simmer for 1/2 hour, watching that it does not boil dry. Add water if needed. Scrape the burned sugar with a spoon or other tool with an edge with the water still in the pan. A lot should come loose. Dump the water, and scrub with cleanser and a scrubby. If what is left does not come off with scrubbing. repeat entire process. This has worked for me, and may work for you. The pan is unusable as is. The cheap detergent from the dollar store works fine for this if you don't have a dishwasher. Good luck with your pan.

      Question: Removing Burn Marks from Stainless Steel Cookware

      Last week I was cooking and I accidentally put the steel lid on the hob while it was lit. I burned my hand and lost feeling in it, but am gradually getting it back, but also it made scorched purple marks on the lid itself. I had that cooking pot in my family for nearly 23yrs and I just would like some tips on how to remove the purple burn marks thanks.

      By Mrs A.

      By Mrs A from east london

      Question: Removing Rust from Stainless Steel Pots

      How do I remove rust on stainless steel pots and pans that were filled with sea water and sewage left over from hurricane Sandy? The pots were in our shore home and we had 3 feet of sea water and sewage. By the time we were allowed in our home, these pans had water standing in them for a month. I have tried everything to remove the rust. I don't want to have to throw these away too.

      By ATM

      Question: Removing Rust from Stainless Steel Pot

      I left water in my stainless steel (brand new) pot after sterilizing baby bottles. Now there is a ring of rust inside the pot. How can I remove this? Please help!

      By Ama Q.

      Question: Cleaning Black Spot on Lip of Saucepan Lid

      My husband used to be the cook and dishwasher in this house. I just recently took over. I'm trying to get our pots and pans back to new looking. I just saw some black on the lid of the saucepan. I tried to scrub it, but I don't have any scour pads right now. It wouldn' come off. I had just soaked the pan in baking soda, vinegar, and water. I hope the black is not mold from food residue, is it? And how to I get rid of it. I will purchase some scour pads.

      By T L

      Question: Removing Heat Discoloration on Stainless Steel Pan

      How can I remove purple stains from stainless steel? It was too close to an open fire, and now I'm struggling to remove the purple stain as a result of this hot fire.

      By Stoffel de Beer

      Question: Cleaning a Water Damaged Skillet

      I found my large skillet with lid way back under the sink, which had slowly (for months) filled with water from a slow leak. I managed to wipe away (warm water and dishsoap) most of the rusty gunk, but small black spots (pits?) remain around the lid and a couple places inside. Is it too late to try baking soda or other things?

      By stephanie r.

      Question: Steel Wool Ruined All-Clad Pan

      My husband has been using steel wool pads to clean my All-Clad pan. Can it be restored or is the finish ruined?

      By Helen

      Question: Cleaning a Stainless Steel Pot That Boiled Dry

      How do I clean a stainless steel pot that has been boiled very dry?

      By Ina


      Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

      Archive: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      I totally burnt a stainless steel pan by attempting to create a simple syrup for my iced tea. I put the pan on to boil, and went to the computer. Bad mistake. After I got the smoke out of the house and dealt with the fire department (that some well-meaning person called), I now have this pan to clean. Boiling with soda helped a lot, but, there is still a fourth of the burnt on marks that I cannot get off the pan.

      I even tried cooking tomatoes in it. That was a waste of tomatoes. I am going to go ahead and use it and watch for black particles, but wondered what else I could use to thoroughly clean it. I have also used Barkeepers friend, and a stainless steel "scratcher". Still have burnt on stuff on the pan. Word to the wise, boiling Barkeepers Friend in the pan doesn't help, either.

      Any more ideas?

      Thank you,
      Jackie in Wixom, Mi

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      Have you tried a "good ole" SOS steel wool pad? I find that's the best way to get really burnt on foods out of stainless steel pans. I hope this helps. (10/07/2005)

      By Luvyabye

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      Put about 1/4 cup fabric softener, fill with water, bring to boil, remove from heat, let sit for at least 24 hours. Most of it should come out with a plastic scrubber. May have to do it more than once but I even saved my slowcooker this way. Good luck. (10/07/2005)

      By wallflower

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      I find that the "Scotch" sponges are the BEST! I have scrubbed burnt marks out with them. Good Luck! (10/07/2005)

      By Heather

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      Use a razor scraper. If you don't have one, go to the paint supply section of any store and they'll have one there. You can use just the razor but this is kinda hard to do. Done this many times! (10/07/2005)

      By jrslady

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      I just saw a hint on TV about this. Take a cap of ammonia and a cup of water put on stove and bring to boil. Remove and allow to cool. Particles are suppose to easliy come up with finger tips or cloth. (10/08/2005)

      By giggligoo

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      I did the same thing a few years back and found a product by accident at Walmart (which I found only once! I now buy it on line because I LOVE IT!!). It's called Pure Clean, I found it for cleaning my tile counters in my kitchen (great for those hard to remove coffee stains). It was so amazing it even took off the burnt spot on a tile in my kitchen made by melted metal from my stainless steal copper bottom cooking pan (now that's a long story lol) Any way I went to the website on the package and they sell these cleaning stones for all types of surfaces, kitchen pans included. This stone even cleans the burnt black that just doesn't come off on your stainless steel pans! Go to http://www.goearthstone.comGOOD LUCK! (10/08/2005)

      By ladybug

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      Thank you for your suggestions ladies and I had to laugh at the lady who went to the computer while a syrup boiled in her pot, went dry, started to smoke and the neighbour called the fire department!

      I too went to the computer, forgot the pot on the stove and my pot burned dry and their was tons of smoke and now am trying to fix it with some of your suggestions. I'm going to try the fabric softener first. (10/31/2005)

      By Sandra Vanderwood.

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      Just found this site discussing burnt pans after searching for solutions to problem. I had left oatmeal cooking in milk on stove for but 5 minutes and came back to blackened pot. Removed oatmeal from pan. Grabbed lemon from fridge, grated peelings into pan; then sliced lemon and squeezed juice into pot. Rubbed lemon around pot and then let sit while I came upstairs and searched Internet for other solutions to problem. After reading the above posts, I returned to pot and began gently scraping bottom with stainless steel spoon. Wow! The lemon did a remarkable job loosening the char and leaving the bottom of the pan (after final cleaning in warm soapy water) in a shiny, beautiful condition. (01/24/2006)

      By Chris

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      Spray with oven cleaner (Easy-off) Then scrub with steel wool, Brillo or S.O.S. pads. (01/24/2006)

      By guest

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      This is an old trick of my mother's that always works for me with stainless steel pans. Fill pan one third with water, dump in 2 or 3 tablespoons Creme of Tartar. Let it boil and boil, add more water to pan as it boils down. You might have to repeat. This might work for you. I have found it doesn't scratch up my pan. (01/24/2006)

      By Vicka

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      Use a dryer sheet and little hot water. (02/09/2006)

      By daisy

      Archive: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      How do I clean the inside of a stainless steel pan that is burnt inside due to water evaporating?

      Carol from Beverly, MA

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      I simmer vinegar and baking soda with very little water in any burnt pan for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Drain pan and while it is still warm scour with dry baking soda and damp scouring pad if needed. Seldom have to do it more than once before it is clean. This works on stainless and even cast iron, (which of course should not be cleaned with soap). (08/24/2006)

      By Harriet

      Archive: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      I left my stainless steel saucepan sitting on the stove after the water had boiled out. It now has black marks on the bottom of the pan. They look similar to tarnish stains on silver. Does anyone know how to get rid of these?

      susanne_917 from Houston, TX

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      I put my pans in my oven when I clean it and they shine when they come out. Same thing with my baking sheets! (09/18/2006)


      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      Make a past out of baking soda and water. Let it sit on the burn for few minutes, then scrub. Lay have to use more baking soda, and let it sit again depending on severity of burn. Then if it is still not coming all the way off, scrub with SOS pad. I do this all the time and it really works! (09/20/2006)

      By Jennifer

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      Soak overnight in Dishwasher soap mixed with a bit of water. Works great for roasting pans, cake pans, blackened cookie sheets (10/04/2006)

      By gouligann

      RE: Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

      Left my old Revereware dripolator coffepot on burner to keep coffee warm. Forgot all about it, left house on errand and came back to burned smell and sad looking coffee pot. Did search and found this site. Dont have dishwasher detergent nor oven cleaner nor creme of tartar, nor dryer sheets. But did have some ammonia as per one suggestion above. It worked, not perfect but black gone and pot usable again. Thanks. (10/07/2006)

      By HermitJohn