How to Clean Stainless Steel Pans for an Easy Shine

Updated November 18, 2020
Woman Washing Dishes In Kitchen Sink

Learn how to clean stainless steel pans with simple steps. Get several methods for removing grime and baked on grease from stainless steel pans.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Pans - Basic Cleaning

When it comes to your stainless steel pans, you can throw them in the dishwasher. However, to make sure all that crude is gone, you might want to clean these yourself. For a stainless steel pans that are not bad, you need:

  • Dish soap (Dawn recommended)

  • Non-abrasive scouring pad (Scotch Brite)

  • Spatula or paper towel

You are looking for a non-abrasive scouring pan that causes the least amount of scratching. Stay away from steel wool.

Woman washing stainless pan

Best Way to Clean Stainless Steel Pans

Unless you are dealing with burned or dried-on food, you can probably take care of getting your pots and pans clean with warm water combined with a mild detergent.

  1. Add a few squirts of dish soap to warm sink water.

  2. Scrape out any excess oil with a spatula or paper towel.

  3. Dunk each item you want to clean into the sink bowl, a few pieces at a time.

  4. Using your scrubby pad, gently rub in circular motions the entire inside surface of the pot or pan. (You can use a sponge or soft cloth if you are worried about mild scratching, but this takes more elbow grease.)

  5. Rinse with warm water until all of the soap suds are gone.

  6. Verify that the item is clean and repeat the washing and rinsing process if necessary.

  7. Dry each item with a soft cloth and place it back in your cabinets for future use.

Since it's easier to clean a warm pan than one that is cooled, you'll want to clean it while it's still warm. However, avoid cold water on a still-warm pan as this can cause warping.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Pans - Burnt Food

While a combination of detergent and water works for most stainless cookware cleaning needs, this technique will not be effective in every situation. For example, burned food will likely stick to stainless steel and cannot be removed with just soap and water. Then it's time to add more power. To clean stuck-on grease, you need:

  • Baking soda

  • Large pot and lid (large enough for pan to fit in)

  • Dish soap

  • Scrubbing pad

  • Tongs

  • Oven mitts

  • White vinegar

  • Bar Keeper's Friend

  • Lime

  • Salt

  • Dryer sheet

Cleaning Stainless Steel Pans With Baking Soda

If you are facing the challenge of needing to remove dried on burned food from your cookware, you need baking soda and a stove.

  1. Add a good-sized mound of baking soda to your pan.

  2. Put a cup or two of water around the baking soda.

  3. Use medium heat to boil the baking soda and water mixture.

  4. Allow it to boil until the baking soda mixture boils down but is still moist.

  5. Allow it to cool until warm.

  6. Put it in warm water and dish soap.

  7. Scrub with scrubbing pad in slow circles until clean.

  8. Dry and put it away.

If this does not work completely, repeat the process until all of the burned food is gone or until you stop seeing progress with stain removal. If this method isn't working or your pan is extremely dirty, it's time to move on to phase three.

How to Clean Extremely Dirty Stainless Steel Pans

For this method, you need to grab your large pot and baking soda.

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.

  2. Add a cup or more of baking soda.

  3. Put your dirty pan in the boiling water.

  4. Put the pan in the water.

  5. Reduce heat to medium.

  6. Let it cook for 15 to 30 minutes.

  7. Use the tongs to pull the pan out of the water.

  8. Put on the oven mitts and instantly start scrubbing.

  9. If the pan cools before you can get it all clean, throw it back in the water.

  10. When satisfied, dry, and put away the pan.

    Clean dishes after washing up

How to Clean Stainless Steel Pans With Vinegar

If you don't have baking soda on hand, reach for vinegar. This is also great for removing discoloration for calcium deposits too.

  1. Add 4 cups of water and a cup of white vinegar to the pan.

  2. Bring it to a boil.

  3. Allow it to cool with the mixture still in it.

  4. Use a scrubby pad to clean out the grime and calcium deposits.

  5. Wash in a bit of soapy water and rinse.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Pans With Salt and Lime

For this method of cleaning stainless steel pans, you need salt and lime.

  1. Cut the lime in half.

  2. Squeeze the juice into a pan.

  3. Add 3-4 tablespoons of salt.

  4. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes.

  5. Use a non-abrasive pad to scrub the pan in circular motions from the center out.

  6. Wash with soapy water.

  7. Rinse and dry.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Pans With Bar Keeper's Friend

You may need or want to use commercial cleaning products for your cleaning stainless steel cookware needs. One of the best is Bar Keeper's Friend Cookware Cleaner. To use this method, you:

  1. Mix Bar Keepers Friend with water to make a paste.

  2. Use a cloth to spread it into the pan.

  3. Allow it to sit for 30 seconds or so.

  4. Rub in circular motions.

  5. Wash as normal.

You can repeat this as necessary until your pan is clean. However, it's important not to let the Barkeepers Friend sit on the pan longer than a minute when soaking.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Pans With a Dryer Sheet

Another way to clean the bottom of stainless steel pans is to look in your laundry room.

  1. Put warm water and a squirt of dish soap into a pan.

  2. Push a dryer sheet into the water, so it sits on the bottom.

  3. Allow it to soak for an hour or two.

  4. Remove the sheet and wash normally.

Tips for Keeping Your Stainless Steel Pans Sparkling

One of the reasons stainless steel pans get dingy is because of improper cooking methods. Try these tips to avoid scorching and stains on your pan.

  • Avoid using too high a heat for food.

  • Preheat the pan and cooking oil before adding meat or veggies.

  • Dry meats with a paper towel before searing.

  • Add a bit of water before cooking dairy.

  • Prevent water spots by drying immediately.

  • Avoid steel wool and harsh abrasives that scratch the surface of stainless steel.

  • Use warm water to clean a warm pan. Coldwater can warp hot pans.

Best Ways to Clean Stainless Steel Cookware

Cleaning stainless steel cookware is not impossible, and it doesn't even have to be difficult. Stainless steel cookware is a popular choice in many home and professional kitchens. By taking proper care of your stainless steel pots and pans, you can keep them looking great for many years, even if you use them every day.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Pans for an Easy Shine