How to clean a stainless steel pan the easy way?

When it comes to knowing how to clean a stainless steel pan, unfortunately plain old dish soap and water won’t cut it. Stainless steel pans can build up an excess of burnt food debris and grease, both in the pan and on the base, which over time gets harder and harder to remove. As a result, your once pristine pan soon appears tired and a bit gross, and it seems like there’s little you can do to restore it. 


But, before you go throwing away your trusty pan, you should know there are ways to remove these unsightly stains. Of course, care needs to be taken when cleaning stainless steel, but you can still do so without damaging the surface. Here, we take you through everything you need to know about cleaning a stainless steel pan and tips to keep it in tip-top shape going forward. 

Everyday cleaning — Before we get into the nitty gritty, everyday cleaning should be covered. If you’ve been cleaning your pan using the wrong products or method in the past, this may be all you need to remove your stains. Once you’ve finished using your pan, remove all traces of food debris as best you can. Then, leave it to cool until you can safely touch it and move it over to your sink for cleaning. Do not rinse or fill the pan with cold water while it’s still hot, otherwise the metal can warp and even crack — so you could damage your pan if you attempt to soak it right away. This is known as thermal shock.


Burnt on food — For tougher stains, you’re going to need a few more cleaning products and a little more elbow grease. Distilled white vinegar and baking soda both work wonders when it comes to cleaning, and they’re gentle enough that they won’t damage the stainless steel surface. First you need to add water to your pan — just enough to cover the burn marks on the base —  then add one cup of distilled white vinegar to the mix. You might want to open a window or make sure the room is well ventilated, as this can smell quite strong. Following this, bring your solution to the boil on the stovetop and remove it as soon as it reaches temperature. Now, you need to measure out two tablespoons of baking soda and add that to your vinegar/water solution. Be prepared for the solution to fizz for a few seconds as the vinegar and baking soda react. This chemical reaction actually contributes to the cleaning process, so it’s a good thing.


Stains on the underside — If your pans are hanging on display, it can be quite annoying to see discoloration and stains on the underside. These scorch marks are made up of grease and food residue, and as they likely have been repeatedly baked on, they’re one of the most tricky stains to clean. However, the good news is that they can indeed be removed and all it takes is good old baking soda. Combine one cup of baking soda with four tablespoons of water in a small bowl. This should form a thick paste, which isn’t too runny. Lay out a tea towel and flip your pan on top so you can easily see the scorch marks. Apply the paste to each of the marks using either a microfiber cloth or your fingers.