Cleaning Stainless Steel Cookware

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

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A badly burned stainless steel pan
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Try using an oven cleaner on cooked-on, burnt messes in the bottom of stainless cookware. It works better than scrubbing with SOS pads!

By Linda

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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

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This idea/tip is to make the handles of your cookware look new again. I KNOW that most cookware makers stress NOT to put your cookware in the dishwasher. BUT, when women are working outside the home, every minute counts when getting the dishes/pots done in the kitchen. Thankfully, I am no longer working outside the home. I can focus on looking for new ideas and ways to keep our home bright and shiny with the least amount of effort.

When straightening out the cabinet that holds my cookware several months ago, I saw some really UGLY handles. I decided to try Baby Oil since it is just mineral oil and gentle to babies. I got the unscented kind. Yep, for a dollar at the Dollar Tree. I have used both Q-tips and cotton balls (if I have more that one or two to do). THIS IS NOT A PERMANENT FIX! But it will keep them looking shiny through several washes if you wash them by hand. It surely beats them looking so UGLY!

I just keep the Baby Oil under my kitchen sink and grab a Q-tip from the bathroom when I see one that needs to be re-shined. It only takes very little and I polish off the excess with a piece of paper towel or napkin. I make sure that no Baby Oil gets on any other surface BUT the handles. I felt that this would be the least harmful thing I could use. See the before and after photo. Yes, that was one of my UGLY handles from several months ago. Doesn't it look better?

I almost forgot to tell you that shining them has kept them from NOT returning to their previous UGLY state. I make sure that they look nice and shiny. LOL

By Southeastgeorgiapeach from Jesup, GA

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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

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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!

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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

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

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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

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Barkeepers Friend

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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    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!

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    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

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    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

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    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.

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    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 ezbritebrands.com. 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

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    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.

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    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.

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    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

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    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!

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

    By Dasguptat from Kolkata, W Bengal

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    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.

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

    By Al from Erie, PA

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    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

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    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

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    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!

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    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

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

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    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.

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    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!

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

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

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