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How to Clean Stainless Steel Cookware

Properly cleaning your stainless steel cookware keeps it looking great and prolongs its lifespan. Read on for our expert tips and tricks.
Gloved hand washing stainless steel pot with a sponge

Getting Started

Investing in stainless steel cookware is a great idea; it's durable, looks great in your kitchen and can be used on any surface, including induction cooktops. To protect your investment, you need to be sure you're cleaning your stainless steel cookware properly. While stainless steel is praised for its ability to resist rust and corrosion, it can still be discolored from food or develop water spots that ruin the shiny surface. We're breaking down all the information you need to clean your pots and pans after each use, prolong their life and keep them looking shiny.

Daily Cleaning

Let's start with regular cleaning, done after you've cooked a meal that's not particularly messy. Be sure you're washing your pots and pans after every use or if they've been in storage for an extended period of time.

What You'll Need

  • Sink or large dishpan
  • Wooden spatula
  • Soft sponge or dish rag
  • Microfiber towel
  • Dishwashing liquid

Step 1: Make a Cleaning Solution

Fill your sink or dishpan with hot water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid, preferably one with degreasing ingredients.

Step 2: Scrape Off Excess Food

With your wooden spatula (or similar non-abrasive tool), scrape off any caked-on food from your stainless steel cookware and dispose of the food.

Step 3: Wash Your Cookware

Once cooled, submerge your pot or pain in the soapy water from step one. Use a non-abrasive sponge or dish rag to wash the inside and outside of your cookware.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry

Once all food remnants are gone, rinse your cookware with warm water. Dry with a microfiber towel to prevent water spots and streaks.

What Not to Do

There are also several cleaning products that shouldn't be used to clean stainless steel cookware, whether they cause scratches, pitting or even rust. Be sure to avoid the following:
  • Undiluted chlorine bleach or cleaners that contain chlorine
  • Steel wool or brushes with metal bristles or tines
  • Plunging hot cookware into water (extreme temperature changes will warp the metal)
  • Air drying
Person removing burnt food from pan with a sponge

How to Remove Discoloration From Your Stainless Steel Cookware

If your pots and pans aren't looking as shiny as when you first purchased them, there are several factors to consider. Overheating can cause discoloration, while minerals in hard water can cause white streaks, spots or residue.

Use Vinegar to Clean Discoloration

If your pots and pans are looking discolored, reach for your distilled white vinegar. To start, saturate a sponge with the vinegar and wipe away any discoloration spots. Once they're gone, rinse the cookware and dry with a microfiber towel.

Remove Mineral Buildup with Vinegar

Vinegar can also be used to remove white spots from hard water. To start, fill the pan with one part distilled white vinegar and three parts water. Then, place on your cooktop and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the cookware cool. To finish, rinse out the vinegar and wash as usual.

Use Baking Soda to Remove Water Spots

This pantry staple is effective at removing water spots that tarnish shiny stainless steel. Dimply wet your sponge, sprinkle on some padding soda and rub any water spots on your cookware. Be sure to follow the grain of the metal. Finish by rinsing with warm water and drying with a microfiber towel.

How to Keep Stainless Steel Cookware Looking Great

  • Prevent burned-on food by allowing cooking oil to become hot before adding food.
  • Wait for water to boil before adding salt to avoid pitting.
  • Use a non-abrasive cleanser like Bar Keepers Friend for cleaning, stain removal, and keeping cookware shiny.
  • Avoid using scouring pads or abrasive cleaners that can scratch the surface of your pots and pans.

Find the Best Stainless Steel Cookware at Abt

By now, your pots and pans should look good as new. If you're still having trouble cleaning your cookware, it may be time to replace them. Luckily, Abt's vast selection of pots and pans includes stainless steel cookware from the best brands trusted by leading chefs. If you live close to our Glenview, IL store, you can also visit our Gourmet Shop to browse our cookware in person. If you still have questions about how to properly care for your cookware, reach out to our experts at 800-860-3577.

What Our Customers Say About Us

Excellent service. The follow up and being on time was perfect. The install went well
Daniel A. - Miami, IL
May 19, 2023