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Last Updated: 
June 1, 2023

How To Clean Stainless Steel Cookware Easily

Stainless steel cookware is the workhorse of your kitchen. Cleaning your stainless pots and pans properly can keep them looking out of the box new for a lifetime! With no discoloration or stains, no one will ever know you've made countless meals in them. Here's how to clean stainless steel cookware!

Several pieces of very clean stainless steel cookware.

Benefits And Advantages Of Stainless Steel Cookware

  • Even Heat Distribution due to its construction of layers of conductive metals.
  • Very Low Maintenance with simple care and cleaning. No pre-seasoning or re-seasoning required. No potentially toxic coatings to crack, degrade or peel away.
  • Non-Reactive With Food stainless steel cookware is safe for acidic foods. It allows you to use it with high acid food recipes such as tomatoes, citrus juices, without the risk of leaching harmful chemicals or causing your food to taste like metal.
  • Attractive Appearance stainless steel looks beautiful for a lifetime with just simple cleaning practices.
  • Easy to Clean just follow the simple steps listed below to keep your stainless cookware looking shiny and clean!
  • Sturdy Construction it's comfortable to use and is much lighter than copper or cast iron.
  • Does Great For Searing stainless steel can withstand high temperatures to produce beautifully seared food like steaks or chops.
  • Reasonably Affordable due to its durability versus having to replace multiple sets of less expensive lower quality cookware over time.

Stainless Steel Cookware Use and Care Tips:

How to Care For Your Stainless Steel Cookware

So you've invested your hard-earned money in a set of stainless steel cookware. The one huge benefit to stainless steel cookware over all others is its long-run durability and even heating and easy cleanup. Over time without routine care and maintenance, your cookware can lose its shine and luster, resulting in a dull or dingy appearance. But how do you take care of the cookware so it lasts a long time and looks new again?

Avoid Cookware Thermal Shock 

Thermal shock occurs when you take a hot pan and rapidly cool it down by plunging it into cold water for example. The rapid temperature change can cause your pan bottoms to quickly warp. Always allow your cookware to air cool naturally to room temperature before running water in it, or plunging it into water for cleaning.

Most stainless steel cookware is comprised of a solid core of aluminum or copper, bonded together with a stainless steel exterior. The solid core metals are specifically chosen for their ability to evenly disperse and retain heat. These cores cool at a much different rate than the stainless steel exterior which can result in warping of the pan bottom surface which can create undesirable results such as uneven heating by the stainless layer becoming convex or bulging away from the solid core. This can cause your food to unevenly lay in the interior of the pan, and your liquids and oils to run to the outside of the pan.

On the exterior bottom side of the stainless steel pan, thermal shock can cause the pan bottom to warp and not sit evenly on the burner or stovetop, resulting in the pan rocking and being unable to sit flat. This is a huge safety hazard, especially if you're cooking with the kids in the kitchen.

Another side effect of stainless steel cookware thermal shock is it can cause the rivets that hold the handles onto your cookware to loosen or prematurely fail. This can cause handles to fall off at the wrong time or cause the pan to wobble when you're holding the handle. Both are dangerous and can be easily avoided.

plates, silverware, and stainless steel cookware in a dishwasher.

Never Put Stainless Steel Cookware Into The Dishwasher! 

Let me be crystal clear! No matter the type of cookware you have be it stainless steel, non-stick, ceramic coated, copper, or cast iron cookware, never ever put your cookware in the dishwasher!

While your dishwasher does great washing up plates, cups, glasses, and flatware, it's not great at all for washing your pots and pans. Regardless of the fact that your dishwasher has that fancy button labeled "pots and pans", putting your cookware in the dishwasher will drastically shorten overall product life, and damage its finish and durability.

The environment inside your dishwasher can be very harsh on your cookware finishes. Dishwashing tablets, pods, powders, or gels contain harsh chemicals that are made to dissolve food. These same chemicals that get your plates shiny and squeaky clean, can eat away at the finish of your cookware resulting in the hazing or fading of that shiny steel surface that we all love. Dishwasher soap compounds can also cause premature oxidization of the rivets or screws holding your handles on.

multi piece stainless steel cookware set


How Do I Clean Stainless Steel Pots and Pans?

How to clean stainless steel cookware:


What Do I Need?  

Bar Keepers Friend is known for its unique formula and excellent cleaning power. It's endorsed by major cookware manufacturers as safe for use on multi-clad or all-clad cookware. It contains 50% more grease-cutting detergents than their other cleanser. BKF can remove stains from most types of cookware, including glass and ceramic casserole dishes, copper, stainless steel, enamel-coated cast iron, and does the best job to clean stainless steel cookware.

Do note that Bar Keepers Friend Cleaner is not recommended for use on fiberglass, plastics, anodized aluminum, or brushed metal surfaces such as appliances, etc. Whenever using a new product on your cookware always spot test it first.

How Do I Get My Stainless Steel Cookware Clean?

  • Put on your dish scrubbing gloves to protect your hands.
  • Sprinkle your cookware with a little bit of hot water.
  • Generously sprinkle a layer of Bar Keepers Friend Cookware Cleanser & Polish Formula onto your cookware.
  • Use your non-abrasive scrubber to form a paste with the cleanser & water.
  • Spread the paste over the surface of the cookware to be cleaned. Don't forget the sidewalls, handle contact points, and inside and outside surfaces of the pan.
  • Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Scrub the stains away using your scrubber pad, and detail brushes for those hard-to-reach areas around the handles, logos, rivets, and embossing on the bottom of the pan.
  • If necessary, repeat steps 2-7 again if you've got some really stubborn stains or grease to remove.
  • Rinse the clean stainless steel cookware very well with hot water, and dry completely with the microfiber dish towel to polish to a high shine and not any leave lint behind.

These simple steps are the best restoration method for clean stainless steel cookware, and will keep those pots and pans looking fresh out of the box and shiny for years to come.

Check out other great recipes, and tips and tricks for Easy, Effortless Entertaining from AWG Private Chefs 

About the Author: Certified Master Chef, Sommelier & Wine Educator, Sean Andrade is the Executive Chef Owner of AWG Private Chefs headquartered in Northern California. Voted best personal chefs and best caterers in San Francisco, and #1 Private Chef company in California. Chef Sean has worked in the restaurant and hospitality industries worldwide for more than 25 years. AWG Private Chefs offers highly custom-tailored, bespoke private chef dining experiences, personal chef service, and private event catering in over 30 countries around the globe.

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