How to Clean Stainless Steel Pans the Right Way

Say goodbye to crusty or burnt pans!

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Stainless steel pots and pans tend to sit on the stovetop for everyone to see, but their greasy bottoms can distract from an otherwise-pristine kitchen. Beyond aesthetic value, cleaning stainless steel pans contributes to their ability to heat up equally and deliver the delicious results you've come to expect. But caked-on food, charred bottoms and streaks can be tough to get rid of, so we asked experts for their best stainless steel-cleaning tips—here's what they had to say.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Pans

Have some patience (and faith).

"While stainless steel pots can get dirty rather quickly and are prone to charring, they're also easy to clean," says Bailey Carson, head of cleaning at Handy, a platform for cleaning and handyman services. "All you need is a sponge, dish soap and some warm water." To clean burn marks, a combination of vinegar and baking soda, says Carson, "will help to have your pot looking new again." To clear scorch marks, add a cup of water and vinegar to the pot, boil it, and then add a sprinkling of baking soda. "Scrub with a sponge after letting it sit for a bit," Carson suggests, but avoid using anything harsh that could scratch it, like a wool sponge.

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

baking soda

White Distilled Vinegar

white vinegar

Timing is everything.

"Cleaning pots and pans right away makes cleaning up any stains easier," says Becky Rapinchuk, founder of the cleaning website Clean Mama and the author of the upcoming book Clean Mama's Guide to a Peaceful Home ($20, Amazon). She likes to soak the pans and pots in a sink of warm, soapy water. Then, she says, "sprinkle a little baking soda on the bottom of the pan with a squirt of dish soap. Use a scratch-resistant scrubber or dish brush and scrub the bottom of the pan. Rinse and repeat if necessary."

Scotch-Brite® Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge, 6-Pack


Avoid fingertip marks.

Stainless steel isn't the worst material to clean, but it sure can get tricky. "Stainless steel is unfortunately prone to fingerprints, marks and even rust if you're not careful," says Carson. "Never use disinfectants or bleach to clean anything made of stainless steel, as that will make it rust a lot faster. And no matter what kind of solution you're using, make sure you dry after cleaning so you can avoid leaving any marks or prints behind."

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