Cleaning stainless steel cookware
January 16, 2004 4:09 PM   Subscribe

I just got some new stainless steel cookware, and now I have some (grease?) gunk stuck on the bottom of my frying pan, along with a yellowish hue, likely from mildly overheating the bare pan while cooking. I tried soaking it for a few hours in water and soap, and scrubbing really hard with a plastic scouring pad, all to no avail. How do I get it clean? Steel-wool? Different soaking? Special cleanser? Other?
posted by The Michael The to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
I would boil water in it and see if that loosens the gunk (it also works for stuck burnt stuff). Steel wool will work too tho.
posted by amberglow at 4:17 PM on January 16, 2004

I never thought I'd shill for a product, but I've been delighted with how well this seems to work on baked-on grease and suchlike.
posted by scody at 4:24 PM on January 16, 2004

I have AllClad, and I use those green scotch-brite pads, a paste made of baking soda and a little water, and a lot of elbow grease.

Word of warning: I've gotten teeny-tiny slivers from my scotch-brites, so I now use gloves.
posted by silusGROK at 5:00 PM on January 16, 2004

I'll second the "baking soda and water paste" suggestion. Once you've gotten the gunk off, try boiling a small amount of white vinegar (just enough to cover the bottom) in the pan to get rid of the discoloring. Warning: This will make your kitchen smell funky for a bit.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:20 PM on January 16, 2004

Eschew the steel wool. The mild steel can "contaminate" your stain-less cookware and make it stain-able (it will rust). Stick to Scotch-Brite.
Start by simmering water with some dish soap. Soak and then scrub.
If that doesn't work, soak in hot water and dishwasher detergent. Scrub while wearing gloves. Rinse with hot water and then lemon juice or a Coke.
The ultimate solution is an NaOH-based product like lye or Easy-Off. This is extremely effective at breaking down organic material, including you. Save this as a last resort and wear gloves and eye protection. Do not heat over 160F. Rinse with hot water and then lemon juice or a Coke.
posted by sardonista at 5:20 PM on January 16, 2004

Have to agree with sardonista. We use oven cleaner and basically spray it in the pan, then cover the pan and stick it outside for a few days. The stuff on the inside should have turned to slime and can be scrubbed off. First, of course, try baking soda and vinegar [it's fizzy, watch out!] and heat it slowly and see if you can scrub or scrape the stuff off.
posted by jessamyn at 5:56 PM on January 16, 2004

Eschew the Scotch-Brite. Stick to nylon non-abrasive scrubbers. Your new stainless steel should be unscratched and unless you're terribly careless it should never get so hot that any food becomes bound to the steel.

In over fifteen years of using higher-end stainless steel pots, I've yet to need an abrasive. At worst, an overnighter of dishwasher detergent eats it clean.

The vinegar rinse has always been adequate for removing discolouration and starch stains.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:00 PM on January 16, 2004

Before you scratch up the surface with Scotch Brite, try Barkeepers Friend. It's an oxalic acid based cleanser, only mildly abrasive. I've used it for years to keep my All-Clad bright and shiny. (All-Clad actually recommends the stuff on their website.) You can usually find it at a grocery store.
posted by Wet Spot at 6:55 PM on January 16, 2004

Bar Keepers Friend is the bomb.
posted by sad_otter at 7:20 PM on January 16, 2004

Vote #3 for Bar Keeper's Friend. It's the only thing for keeping stainless....stainless.
posted by briank at 7:47 PM on January 16, 2004

sardonista and jessamyn are right--oven cleaner is your ticket. It's preferred by 9 out or 10 apartment managers for cleaning gunk off of stovetops and stainless steel burner rings*. It should do the trick if you let it sit for a spell. Rinse and repeat: you know the drill.

* Just be sure to lay a plate or some foil over the elements when you do that. Also, you don't want to let sodium hydroxide based cleaners sit on aluminum fixtures for more than a few seconds, though--it can leave spots. So don't use it on aluminum cookware, pilgrim.
posted by y2karl at 10:29 PM on January 16, 2004

Response by poster: Merci beaucoup for all of the suggestions... I'll let you know when I get the gunk off.
posted by The Michael The at 11:28 PM on January 16, 2004

I'm late to the thread but I love my All-Clad like the children I don't have and have found that boiling some water with a drizzle of Cascade dishwasher stuff and then letting it cool gets it sparkling every time.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:09 AM on January 17, 2004

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