How To Clean Your Cookware: The Ultimate Guide

How To Clean Your Cookware: The Ultimate Guide

We all use multiple types of cookware in our kitchens.

Choosing the right type of cookware for your needs is extremely important since it gives you an opportunity to flex your cooking muscles and try out new and interesting dishes.

It goes without saying that certain meals can only be prepared in a particular type of cookware.

In other words, having quality cookware is always going to be at the heart of any kitchen.

This also means that there is always a need for a variety of different types of pots and pans made from different types of materials and available in different sizes.

This has resulted in a booming cookware industry, where you can find just about any type of cookware you might need for your kitchen.

Apart from that, to make these pots and pans even more alluring for different kitchen settings, manufacturers tend to produce their cookware using various materials in multiple sizes.

The truth is that every type of cookware comes with its own set of pros and cons, which is why many people prefer to have multiple cookware options on hand in their kitchens.

Some common types of cookware that are seen in kitchens around the world include cookware that is made of stainless steel, aluminum, cast-iron, induction, and anodized cookware.

Each of these materials offers something to the cook and is more appropriate when preparing certain foods.

Cooking In Wok Pan

This makes each of these types of cookware an essential part of any kitchen.

Various types of cookware are available in multiple materials and sizes.

They also sport varying price tags, with the more high-end brands offering their premium cookware at a heftier cost.

That being said, it goes without saying that regardless of the cookware you choose to adorn your kitchen cabinet with, they’re going to need a fair amount of care.

This means proper cleaning and regular maintenance to ensure that the cookware in your kitchen cabinets is up for the task when needed.

But, more importantly, cleaning your cookware items properly also ensures that they will last longer.

This factor is especially important if you have invested a pretty penny on your cookware set.

When it comes to the cookware you use in the kitchen, its cleaning and maintenance can be a bit overwhelming if you use cookware made from different materials.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you’ve ever wondered about the right way to clean the different types of cookware you use in your kitchen, then you’ve come to the right place.

Here, we are going to take a look at the various types of cookware and the best ways to get them sparkling clean.

Cleaning Your Cookware: Why Bother?

Woman Preparing To Wash Cookware

If you’re using various pots and pans in your kitchen, then you probably wash them after every use.

However, after some time, you might soon find that your regular washing regimen is not getting the job done when it comes to cleaning your cookware.

Over time, the buildup of grease, food residue, and other stubborn stains can do a number on your cookware, leaving them looking older and more worn out than they actually are.

Cookware that’s covered in stains is also unsightly, which can easily take the fun out of cooking.

The last thing any serious cook would want is to have to cook meals in grease-stained cookware.

Besides that, cookware, regardless of its kind, is usually a significant investment.

This means that you would expect your cookware to last you a long time and not fall victim to wear and tear after just a few months of use.

To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, we’re going to take a closer look at the different types of cookware used around the kitchen, and the best and most efficient ways of getting them cleaned.

The next time someone walks into your kitchen, you’ll be able to proudly show off your glistening cookware.

Cleaning Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel cookware is made by mixing the raw materials nickel and chromium with steel.

This makes the material stain-less (just like the name suggests), anti-corrosive, and a favorite when it comes to kitchen cookware.

The most popular type of stainless steel cookware that offers the best results when cooking is “18/10” stainless steel.

While there are other types of stainless steel cookware, the inclusion of the “18/10” stamp is basically the ratio of chromium to nickel that has been added during the manufacturing process.

Stainless steel cookware is among the most sought-after cookware material in the kitchen because of its stylish appearance and durability, but it is also the preferred choice for the interior cooking surface of most cookware.

This is mainly because stainless steel does not react to alkaline or acidic foods.

The durable design of stainless steel cookware also means that they do not get scratch easily and are safe for the oven, broiler, and dishwasher.

That said, stainless steel is not a good conductor of heat when used by itself, which is why during the manufacturing process, the stainless steel is bonded with several layers of highly conductive metals which are good conductors of heat, namely aluminum or copper.

As a result, we get stainless steel clad cookware that’s considered to be the most practical cookware that can be used in the kitchen.

Durable, classic, or uncoated stainless steel is a great choice for meals that require braising and browning.

Stainless steel cookware is mostly sold in sets and is considered to be the workhorse of the kitchen.

The one thing you will notice when it comes to stainless steel cookware is that whether you choose Farberware or the All-clad variety, stainless steel cookware tends to get a bit grimy and discolored with time.

This is because of grease and food residue which builds up over time and can get difficult to remove if left untreated.

In fact, it is no surprise that the grease and food residue that collects on the stainless steel pan while cooking often results in a thick hazy layer of blackened grease or carbon that sticks to the bottoms of the stainless steel cookware and can make it difficult to cook.

The good news about investing in stainless steel cookware is that the sturdy and smooth surface means that even the toughest of stains can be removed with relative ease when done the right way.

Everyday Care

The first thing you should do for the everyday care of your stainless steel pots and pans is to have a proper cleaning regimen after you’ve cooked to make sure the thick grease and food residue does not get a chance to get into the stainless steel.

For everyday upkeep of your stainless steel pots and pans, you need to wash them by hand as soon as you’ve cooked your meals.

Using regular dish soap should do the trick. But, if you are in a rush, then stainless steel cookware is also dishwasher compatible.

This means that you can wash your stainless steel pots and pans in the dishwasher as well.

The point is, regular cleaning is mandatory if you want to keep your stainless steel pots and pans looking sparkling new.

Stain Removal

Pouring Vinegar In Stainless Steel Pan

For best results, soak the stainless steel cookware in a bath of warm water for a few seconds.

However, make sure that the water isn’t too hot or you could burn yourself.

Now, drain the water and include some washing detergent of your choice to the areas that are stained and work it into the stain with the help of a scrubby.

Be sure to get to the nooks and crannies to remove all of the grease or food debris from the stainless steel cookware.

There should be enough residue of the dishwasher you’re using to moisten the scrubby if needed.

While scrubbing the stained areas of the stainless steel pan, you will want to use a circular motion, which is far more efficient when it comes to removing those stubborn stains.

Using circular motions will also make it easier to work a single section of the stainless steel cookware at a time for a more thorough cleaning.

If you are using stainless steel cookware that is either polished or has a mirror polish look, then you might want to go with a light dishwasher and a washcloth instead.

This is to ensure that the glossy look of your stainless steel cookware is not ruined by all the scrubbing with a scrubby.

If you’re using a stain remover on your stainless steel cookware, then you will need to first apply the recommended amount of the cleaning product to the stained area and leave it on for about 10 minutes before scrubbing the residue.

It should be noted here that some cleaning products are not as strong as others, and might require more time to break down the grease and food residue that’s stuck on the surface.

While using a stain removing cleaning product is not recommended for everyday use on stainless steel cookware since it could leave the pots and pans looking a bit hazy, these cleaning products are highly efficient when it comes to removing those stubborn stains left by grease and food residue on your stainless steel pots and pans.

When it comes to options in stain removers, there are quite a few household items that you can use if you do not wish to go with the branded variety.

For instance, you can mix equal parts of the everyday liquid dish soap you use with baking soda and scrub the stained stainless steel surface for stain removal.

Vinegar is also another great option for the removal of more stubborn stains.

If baking soda isn’t enough to do the trick, then vinegar is your next best option.

To clean your stainless steel cookware with vinegar, take a soft brush and dip it in some undiluted vinegar.

Scrub the stained area gently and wipe away the vinegar with the help of a dry cloth.

Another way of using vinegar for cleaning stainless steel cookware is by filling a spray bottle with some vinegar and spraying it on the stained area.

You can then use a soft brush or a paper towel to rub off the stains.

Cleaning Aluminum Cookware

Aluminum cookware is second only to copper when it comes to heat conductivity.

Another benefit of using aluminum cookware is that it’s a cheap alternative to stainless steel, and makes for an extremely light and responsive cookware.

Aluminum cookware comes in many sizes and is amongst some of the finest nonstick cookware available in the market today.

It is also the most popular core material for stainless steel clad cookware.

It should also be noted that many aluminum pots and pans cannot be used on induction stovetops unless they feature a steel exterior.

Also, oven and dishwasher use is also going to be restricted while using aluminum cookware. However, this varies according to the manufacturer.

That said, because of its practicality, aluminum cookware is the preferred choice in many kitchens, especially when it comes to griddles or roasting pans.

While aluminum cookware is lightweight and excellent when it comes to heat conductivity, they do tend to stain or discolor easily.

This is why manufacturers use anodized aluminum, which is coated to prevent stains.

The good news about using this type of cookware is that the hardened surface of aluminum is smooth and easy to clean.

But, that does not mean that cleaning aluminum cookware is going to be a breeze.

While the darkened surface due to the oxidization process can help hide the stains until a certain point, some discoloration and stains do become visible after some months of use.

You will notice some darker blotches baked on the sides and the bottom of your aluminum cookware, which is the first sign that they require a thorough scrubbing.

Before you start cleaning your aluminum cookware, it is important to note that if you are using anodized aluminum cookware with a PTFE nonstick surface, then you should never use a potent cleaning agent on the PTFE surface as that could result in removing the nonstick agent on the surface.

Everyday Care

Cleaning Aluminum Pan

When cleaning aluminum cookware, it is important to allow the pots or pans to cool down completely after cooking.

You must also ensure that you never place any hot aluminum cookware in cold water as that could cause the surface to warp, which will ruin the cookware.

You will have to wash your aluminum cookware by hand using mild dishwashing detergent.

It should also be noted here that placing your aluminum cookware into a dishwasher could void the warranty, which is why you should check the warranty card before placing the aluminum cookware in a dishwasher.

Oxidization / Stain Removal

You can use a paste made of mild scouring powder and some baking soda. Rub the paste on the stained areas and then rinse using warm water.

Regular cleaning of aluminum cookware is the only way you can avoid the buildup of aluminum oxide, which can ruin your aluminum cookware.

You can also use a solution made of one quart of water and two tablespoons of white vinegar.

This acidic solution can help reduce any discoloration that occurs due to oxidation.

You can also use acidic fruits such as apples by adding apple peels to the water instead of the vinegar.

Fill the flatware with the solution and boil for around 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the fire and drain the solution.

Let the pan cool down completely before scrubbing it with a regular detergent to make it shine again.

There are also some options when it comes to specially formulated aluminum cleaners that are available in the market.

These products do a great job of cleaning your aluminum cookware.

Cleaning Cast-Iron Cookware

Cast-iron cookware is another essential type of cookware in the kitchen.

Since cast-iron is not a good conductor of heat and takes a long time to heat up and cool down, its self-regulating nature makes it the preferred choice for those who are looking for heavy-duty grill pans, fry pans, and griddles.

Cast-iron cookware is known for its durability and ability to resist denting or warping, which makes cast-iron cookware a great choice for those who are looking for long-term cookware options.

For those who are not aware, cast-iron cookware comes in two types – enamel-coated and natural state cast-iron.

Both are extremely similar when it comes to cooking capabilities, but there are some differences that you should be aware of.

For instance, natural cast-iron is the more affordable option of the two, but it does require seasoning for protection against rust.

Applying a seasoning coat to natural cast-iron can prevent it from rusting and also creates a nonstick interior, which is great for cooking on.

On the other hand, enameled cast-iron is easier to clean and completely nonreactive, which are, of course, benefits that come with a higher price tag.

All cast-iron cookware is heavy, which is why you should take that into account when purchasing this type of cookware.

Cast-iron cookware can be used in the oven and can be preheated to temperatures that can brown meat easily.

Sturdy and well-built, cast-iron cookware that can keep food hot for longer is a handy piece of cookware to have around the kitchen.

Since you probably already know about seasoning natural cast iron cookware, here, we are going to take a quick look at how it can be cleaned.

The trick when it comes to cast-iron cookware cleaning is to do it without washing it with detergent.

You will also need to be careful not to damage the seasoning layer, which is made up of polymerized fat, and is essentially baked onto the cast-iron, encasing the entire pan.

Everyday Care

Cleaning Cast Iron Pan

When it comes to cleaning cast-iron cookware, especially those that have been seasoned, it is important not to use a dishwashing detergent.

This is because dishwashing detergents have been formulated to break down fats, which is exactly what the seasoning is on a cast-iron pan.

So, the best way to clean a cast-iron pan that’s been seasoned is by using a stiff-bristled brush and hot water.

If you need to remove any crusted-on food debris from a cast-iron pan, you could go for cast-iron polycarbonate scraper sets that are also available in the market.

They will make sure that the seasoning of the pan is not damaged.

Stain Removal

For something a little more close to home that can remove crusted-on food debris from your cast-iron pan, you can take a tablespoon full of coarse salt along with equal amounts of cooking oil to the stained area and scrub it using a paper towel.

Since the abrasive nature of the salt itself is enough to remove any debris from the surface of the pan, you should not have any trouble removing the stains while keeping the seasoning intact.

Once the stains have all been removed, all you need to do is wipe down the pan thoroughly and dry the pan by heating it over the stove or in the oven.

Cleaning Induction Cookware

Holding Induction Pan

Induction cooktops require the use of special, magnetic cookware.

This is because an induction cooktop uses a magnetic field to heat the cookware placed on it.

If it’s unable to take the magnetic heat, the cookware won’t heat up enough to cook its contents.

This is why you do not use Pyrex or copper cookware.

While stainless steel and cast iron pans are the preferred choice for induction cooking, they can be difficult to clean.

Furthermore, there are many people who do not have a clue when it comes to how to care for their induction cookware.

This is mainly because cleaning the inside and the outside of the induction cookware can be done using different methods.

Cleaning the interior and exterior of induction cookware also requires different cleaning agents as well as using water at different temperatures, which is why there is so much confusion when it comes to cleaning induction cookware.

Everyday Care

Special care should be taken when cleaning induction cookware – for obvious reasons.

For instance, before using the cookware, you should always wash it with hot water and soap and dry it thoroughly before you cook your meal.

This is not only to keep your food clean, but also to allow the induction cooktop to heat the cookware properly.

It is also important to never leave a hot cast-iron or stainless steel pot on an induction cooktop when it’s not in use.

Another good tip to live by when cleaning induction cookware is to never use cold water on hot induction cookware since that could warp its shape.

While some of these tips might seem obvious, you’ll be surprised to know how many people make these simple mistakes when it comes to the daily care of their induction cookware.

removing stains from Induction Cookware

Cleaning Induction Cookware

You will need to take extra care when cleaning your induction cookware, mainly because of its materials.

This means that it cannot be cleaned as you would a regular pan.

When washing the interior of the pot or pan, you should never use any steel wool or hard bristles brush, or even an abrasive sponge.

This is because that could end up damaging the coating on the pan, which will render the pan unusable.

The best way to clean induction cookware is by hand washing the interior.

You should also never put the induction cookware into the dishwasher, as this could also damage the coating.

If you’re dealing with a greasy interior, then you can use a non-abrasive pad or soak the pan in warm water.

Cleaning the outside of induction cookware is a bit different than cleaning the interior.

That’s because there’s no coating on the outside of the induction pot or pan.

While washing the exterior of induction cookware is relatively easier, there are different processes to be used while cleaning cast-iron or stainless steel induction cookware.

When cleaning stainless steel cookware, use a rough sponge and baking soda on the outside, which can remove any buildup of grease or stains.

After scrubbing the area with a non-abrasive pad, rinse the exterior of the pan thoroughly, and you’re good to go.

If you’re cleaning cast-iron cookware, you will need to boil the water and turn the cookware upside down in the sink.

Then, pour the hot water over the cookware, but be careful not to burn yourself.

Use a wire brush with salt to remove any buildup of grease from the outside.

Once you have removed all of the debris, pour salt and scrub it once again.

You can use soapy water to clean it the last time before drying. This should be enough to remove any stains.

You will have to wipe some cooking oil over the exterior of the pan, which will keep its coating intact before it is stored.

Is All Cookware Dishwasher Safe?

Washing Cookware In Dishwasher

The short answer is that almost all forms of stainless steel, porcelain, and ceramic cookware are dishwasher safe.

That being said, non-enameled cast-iron cookware and anodized aluminum cookware aren’t considered to be dishwasher safe.


So, there you have it.

These were just some of the ways in which you can prolong the cookware’s lifespan.

Since cookware is a significant investment, you need to know the best ways to make sure that your cookware can stand the test of time and give you the best bang for your buck.

The aforementioned tips should help you clean your cookware so they can last for a very long time.

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