How To Clean Stainless Steel Pans + 5 Best Cleaners

Many people like cooking but not so many like cleaning. Cleaning larger vessels as pots and pans is an even more unattractive idea. Though the job needs to be done and it actually doesn’t have to be so exhausting as you used to think. This article will guide you through the instructions on how to clean your stainless steel pan quickly and effectively.

Our Top Pick
barBar Keepers Friend Ultimate Cleaning Kit
  • Beautifully designed bottle
  • Cleaning Kit
  • Big amount
  • Suitable for multiple surfaces
  • Creates a protective layer after cleaning
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Other great steel pan cleaners:


3M 14002
Affordable product, cleans effectively even with a little amount

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weimanWeiman Stainless Steel Cleaner
A cleanser that comes in a bigger package and in a form of spray and creates the protective layer after cleaning
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howardHoward Stainless Steel Cleaner
Natural ingredients cleanser, with the nice smell
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magicMagic Stainless Steel Cleaner
A budget product with multiple cleansing functions
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Pans and pots from the stainless steel can be found in almost every kitchen since they are known for their ability to expertly conduct and maintain heat. There are various types of stainless steel and without proper care and use, stainless steel can quickly obtain stuck-on food, unsightly burn marks, and discoloration.

ststpanoneBut what to do if you have those stubborn food particles on its surface which don’t want to come off? No panic, there are several methods to wash them away. The most simple method to clean the dirt to stick to the bottom of a pan is to remove burnt food with boiling water.

You should start by scrubbing away as much food as possible with a non-abrasive scrubber. Then you fill the pan with some amount of water with a little amount of soap/detergent. Ensure the stuck-on food is completely submerged. Then put the pan onto a burner and wait until it boils.

When you see the water boiling, there will be nothing easier than to remove the food with the spatula right in the hot water. You can also do that using the vinegar and baking soda. Vinegar is not only one of the ingredients for your salads, but it is known as a very effective cleanser for various purposes.

It is an effective cleaning solution for stuck-on foods thanks to its acetic acid content, which helps break down tough food particles. In this method, you also need to add some amount of water to the pan, just to cover the food leftovers, then add one cup of vinegar and bring it to a boil.

When the water boils, remove the pan from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of soda. Mix all of that together and pour the water out of the pan. If you see there are still some particles in the pan, then use a non-abrasive sponge or scrubber to rid the pan of any remaining food particles.

ststpantwoAnother effective method to clean your stainless steel pan is to clean it with cream or tartar. Yes, these substances are rarer than, for example, baking soda, but their cleaning qualities are definitely not lesser than of the latter. Simply mix cream of tartar with water to create a paste and cover affected areas in your pan.

The only thing is that this method will take more time than previous ones. In the next step, you have to allow the mixture to soak overnight in the pan. Then on the next day, you should rinse and scrub the pan out to remove any remaining particles.

Don’t have those cleansers at home? But you surely have lime and salt! Yes, these two can also help a lot in cleaning your pan. While together, they create an effective cleaning solution for your stainless steel pan.

The lime’s acidity works extremely effectively to dissolve all the burnt particles on the pan’s surface, and the salt will serve as a scrub to move than away. All you need to do is to squeeze the lime’s juice into your pan and then add salt. Wait for several minutes so the mixture soaks in into the dirt. Then sprinkle more salt on the pan.

Then immediately begin scrubbing with a non-abrasive scrubber. The excess food leftovers should be totally removed.

You may also like: Ceramic vs Nonstick vs Stainless Cookware Compared

Another unpleasant situation when you got your stainless steel pan burnt. This case requires a special approach. Still, it is possible to clean it away.

The first method, once again, underestimates the usage of the baking soda (see you don’t even need all those expensive chemicals to wash the gunk away). For this method, start by making sure the pan is completely dry. Flip the pan over and sprinkle baking soda evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Then you should use a dry cloth to rub soda into the burnt surface of your pan. For better effectiveness, add a little amount of water to the baking soda.

The burnt leftover should be cleaned. Try several times, if necessary. Then, rinse everything with water and dry your pan with a towel.

Here is another method for those who don’t want to get their hands dirty while trying to clean the pan. You can also use such a mixture as baking soda and dish soap. What you should do is to apply the mixture to all the burnt spots and leave it for several hours. When you’re ready, simply wash thoroughly and dry as normal.

Another method for those who don’t want to use their hands too much and the method which will help to combat the burns on the pan (rather than on its bottom) consists of boiling the salt. Here it can be substituted with the juice of vinegar.

ststpanthreeFirst, you should fill the pan with enough water to cover the affected areas. Don’t add the salt yet! Then boil the water and when it’s ready, turn down the burner and immediately add several spoons of salt. Then allow the water to sit for a few hours, then pour out the water. See, what is left, and, if necessary, scrub the inside of the pan with a non-abrasive sponge.

A frequent problem when cleaning the stainless steel pan is the burnt oil. And the perfect cleanser here is going to be, you guessed it, soda. This method works well on sticky, stuck-on substances like caramel as well, thanks to cola’s acidic properties.

Pour enough cola into your pan, then bring the soda to a gentle simmer, then remove from heat and use a spatula to scrape away burnt oil or other burnt-on substances.

At the beginning of this article, we also mentioned that the wrong way of cleaning stainless steel may lead to discoloration. The method of cleaning discolored pans must differ from the regular ones in order not to damage the surface even more.

ststpanfourThe first and the easiest way to clean the discolored stainless steel pans is the vinegar. Simply wash your pan with vinegar and rinse with water to remove discoloration. Additionally, vinegar can be used to rid your pan of white calcium build-up stains.

Make a mixture of one part vinegar to three parts water and boil in the affected pot or pan. Allow the mixture to cool, empty the pan, and wash as normal.

One more curious method (and it’s likely that you have that ingredient at your house) is to clean the pan with the tomato sauce. Maybe you didn’t know but tomatoes also have that necessary acidity which reacts with the discoloration in your stainless steel pans similar to vinegar.

Just fill the pan with it (or smashed tomatoes). Allow the sauce to simmer gently for about 10 minutes, adding water if necessary. For a better effect, you can leave it overnight. Then just rinse with water.

Lastly, please remember that the best way to get rid of any stains on your stainless steel pan is to prevent them from occurring. Here are some tips on how you can do that:

  • Prevent any water spots by always drying pans immediately after you washed it;
  • If you want to remove water spots, dampen your pan and rub down with a moist sponge and baking soda;
  • And never add salt to the boiling water! It will cause pitting corrosion, which will leave small dents in the bottom of your pan;
  • Don’t put very cool food to the pan, wait for some time it gets warmer. The colder food is more likely to stick to the pan;
  • Don’t clean the hot pan in the cold water, this can cause warping and disfiguration;
  • Obviously, steel wool and other harsh scrubbers or cleaners can scratch stainless steel surfaces

And as it has been promised, here is the list of the top cleansers which work great for stainless steel. If you don’t feel like using all those natural ingredients and prefer the modern approach, you can explore this list. All the detergents are more or less affordable.

1. 3M 14002 Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish

3MOne of the most popular cleansers in the world, the item which has a great price and works very well. Nearly any shiny metal surface in your kitchen can get a refresh with this stainless steel cleaner from 3M, as it works on aluminum and chrome as well.

It is appreciated by the consumers because of its perfect finish and the little amount of the cleanser which is required to fully polish the stainless steel surface.

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2. Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish Trigger Spray

weimanThis is the cleanser that comes in a bigger size and in the shape of a spray. It is effective in removing the cooking residue from your pan needing to buff out the streaks afterward. A pleasant bonus of it is that after using it build the protective layer on the surface of the pan that helps stave off grime for longer.

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3. Howard Stainless Steel Cleaner

howardEven judging by the cover of this cleanser, you can understand that this is a more natural variant. First of all, it is safer for your hands, than other cleansers, because it is s made from a blend of plant-derived ingredients like soybean oil and coconut oil.

Moreover, as a bonus, it’s even scented with essential oils to impart a pleasant smell. And the fact that is is natural doesn’t diminish its cleansing abilities. Reviewers love that it doesn’t take any extra elbow grease to work just as well as the more potent stuff.

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4. Magic Stainless Steel Cleaner Aerosol

magicOne of the most budget products on our list. If you don’t have many items made of stainless steel at your home, then this is your choice, since it comes in small quantities. It possesses decent cleaning properties.

Gunk on your dishwasher, fridge, toaster, and even your outdoor grill easily wipes away with a cloth after a few sprays. Besides, this cleanser can be used to smooth out fine scratches, while helping them stay fingerprint-resistant.

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5. Bar Keepers Friend Ultimate Cleaning Kit

barAn option for those who want to invest a little more into the cleansers for their stainless steel pans. The cleaning detergent comes in a beautifully designed bottle. Also, it has a bigger size, since this is a multi-functional chemical for cleaning also the surfaces of the sink, bath and so on.

It is also ideal for buffing out the hard-water marks on stainless steel refrigerators or porcelain sinks. Moreover, you can not only refresh the surfaces and fixtures in your kitchen and bathroom, but it also works wonderfully in restoring the sheen to your cookware and knife sets. You just have to make sure you give them a good wash afterward.

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