How to Clean Stainless Steel Pans?

Clean stainless steel pan

Stainless steel pans have become popular in almost all kitchens as they are very durable, easy to clean, and have good cooking abilities. Stainless steel cookware conducts heat efficiently during the cooking process and this makes your food cook uniformly as possible.

Easy to clean a stainless pan

Generally, stainless steel can be used to cook different kinds of foods such as fish, meat, soup, and eggs. However, proper care and maintenance is essential since they can quickly get burn marks, discoloration, and food stains.

You should keep in mind that stainless steel pans and pots are not nonstick and this means that you will need to be careful when cooking and cleaning. You will find the details on how to clean your stainless steel pan below.

How to Clean Burnt Oil off a Stainless Steel Pan? 

If you’re not careful, burnt oil can stick onto your pan permanently. You shouldn’t let this happen since it’s possible to clean burnt-on oil with a little effort while it’s fresh. The methods below will help you get rid of the nasty burnt on stains from your pan.   

Getting rid of burnt oil with soda

Soda is an easy solution if you have no idea how to remove burnt oil on your stainless steel pan. The acidic properties of soda will help you clean off sticky substances such as caramel on your pan. Follow these steps to remove burnt oil on your stainless pan:

Pouring baking soda into pan
  • Step 1: Add sufficient amount of cola into your stainless pan and ensure the affected areas are covered.
  • Step 2: Heat the cola to simmer gently.
  • Step 3: Once the soda simmers, transfer the pan from heat and then scrub off the burnt oil with a clean spatula.

Cleaning with baking soda 

This method requires you to have baking soda, a scrubbing pad, and plenty of water.

  • Step 1: Mix the baking soda and water to form a paste.
  • Step 2: Smear the paste on the burnt-on stain and then scrub with the pad.
  • Step 3: Let the pan sit until it dries out.
  • Step 4: Clean with soap and plenty of water and then scrub everything away.

Cleaning with a dishwasher detergent 

  •  Step 1: Add hot water into a basin until full.
  • Step 2: Pour in plenty of dishwasher detergent.
  • Step 3: Put your stained pan into the mixture and then leave it to soak overnight.
  • Step 3: Use a scrubbing pad to scrub the following day.
  • Step 4: Rinse well with water to get rid of the soap.

How to Clean Burnt Pots and Pans Due to Overheating? 

Getting rid of burns with dish soap and baking soda

Clean stainless steel pan by baking soda
  • Step 1: Mix the baking soda and dish soap to form a paste.
  • Step 2: Spread the paste onto the affected areas and let to sit for a few hours.
  • Step 3: Clean well with water and then dry your pan.  

Getting rid of burns with baking soda

  • Step 1: Dry your pot/pan completely.
  • Step 2: Drizzle the baking soda evenly onto the burnt areas.
  • Step 3: Then rub the soda with a dry cloth onto the burnt areas. You can mix the baking soda and a little amount of water to make a paste if you like.
  • Step 4: Rinse the excess baking soda and then dry.

Getting rid of burns by boiling salt

This method is suitable for removing burn spots found on the inner part of your pan instead of the bottom. You can also use vinegar or lemon juice in place of salt.

A woman is cleaning a pan
  • Step 1: Add plenty of water into your stainless pan or pot to cover the burnt areas.
  • Step 2: Boil the water.
  • Step 3: Once the water is boiling, pour in a few tablespoons of salt and then switch off the heat right away.
  • Step 4:  Leave the salty water to sit for a couple of hours.
  • Step 5: Pour the salty water.
  • Step 6: Then scrub your stainless pot/pan using a non-abrasive sponge.

If you still spot burn marks, repeat the whole process.

Wash with dishwasher detergent

You will need a scouring pad, water, and dishwasher detergent in this method.

  • Step 1: Add hot water into a basin or sink until full.
  • Step 2: Pour in ¼ cup of the dishwasher detergent.
  • Step 3: Place the burned pot or pan into the hot water and let it soak for a few hours or overnight.
  • Step 4: Scrub the stainless pot or pan thoroughly with a pad.
  • Step 5: Lastly, use warm water to rinse well.

Note that this method is effective although you may have to repeat the whole process if you find some burnt spots on the pan.

How to Remove Discolored Stains from Stainless Steel Pans? 

Getting rid of discolored stains with tomato sauce

This method is perfect in case you have excess tomato sauce in your kitchen. Tomatoes contain organic acids and these acids react with the discolored stains just like vinegar.  The steps below will guide you on how to clean stains with tomato sauce.

  • Step 1: Add crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce into your pan until the discolored stains are submerged completely.
  • Step 2: Heat the sauce until it simmers gently for around ten minutes. Add a little amount of water if necessary.
  • Step 3: Drain off the sauce from the pan and then rinse with clean water.

Alternatively, you can add tomato sauce into the stained pan and leave it to soak overnight without the need for simmering.  

Getting rid of discolored stains with vinegar

Vinegar is very effective when it comes to removing discoloration caused by excess heat. Follow these steps if you want to get rid of stains on your pan.

  • Step 1: Take the discolored pan and wash it with vinegar.
  • Step 2: Use clean water to rinse off the discoloration.

Besides, you can use vinegar to remove calcium stains in your stainless steel pan. You will just need to prepare three parts water and one part vinegar. Let the mixture boil in the affected pan and then leave it to cool. Drain off the vinegar-water mixture and then rinse with clean water.    

How to Keep Stainless Steel Cookware Looking Like New? 

It’s important to keep your stainless cookware in good condition no matter how often you use them. You should avoid cleaning them with harsh abrasives but instead use safe cleaners such as vinegar and baking soda to keep them shiny.

Stainless cookware and vinegar placed on table

If you are using your stainless steel cookware often, you will likely find some chalky white spots on the surface that are caused by the accumulation of calcium. Calcium is found in water and can cause white chalky spots on your stainless steel cookware especially if you do not dry them immediately after washing.

To get rid of calcium deposits on your cookware, you can clean with a stainless steel cleaner or boil a mixture of one part vinegar and three parts water. Once the mixture cools, wash and then dry your pan as normal.

Repeated overheating of your stainless steel pan can sometimes have a slight rainbow glow on the surface. This discoloration can be removed by cleaning with vinegar. In case the stain persists, you can get rid of it by cooking food that contains high acid content like tomato sauce. The acidity will help you to get rid of the rainbow glow.

Food can stick on the surface of your pan when your stainless pan becomes hot. You should scrub off any food particles with a non-abrasive pad and avoid using steel wools. If you still spot food particles on your pan, add soapy water to the pan and then boil for about ten minutes. Scrub off any food particles on the bottom.        


What is the best cleaner for stainless steel? 

You don’t need much effort when it comes to cleaning your stainless steel. However, if you’re dealing with stuff that isn’t coming off, you should try to use abrasive cleaners like Bar Keepers Friend, Bon Ami, or baking soda to remove burnt-on oil or blackened stains.

clean stainless steel pan

We recommend using baking soda since it’s cheap and easy to find.  You should avoid harsh cleaners like oven cleaners because it can cause permanent damage. 

Does vinegar damage stainless steel? 

Vinegar is cheap and contains a mild acid compared to other commercial cleaners. It won’t damage your stainless steel cookware. Vinegar will remove the oil left behind by your fingers instead of spreading it around like some other cleaners. It’s non-abrasive and effective in removing grease.

Can you ruin a stainless steel pan? 

Although stainless steel pan is durable and highly resistant to corrosion, it can be ruined by using the wrong cleaner, abrasive pads and even things like water and salt. There are a few things you should avoid if you don’t want to ruin your pan.

Do not use abrasive substances like steel wool to scrub the pan’s surface since doing so can make the pan more susceptible to rusting.  Another thing you should avoid is using cleaners that contain chlorine because they ruin the coating and cause pitting.

Avoid leaving dirty water and residues of cleaning solution to dry out in your steel cookware. This can leave a permanent stain on the pan’s surface.   

Tammy Kennedy
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