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All-Clad skillet cleaning suggestions wanted

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  • Dan D Oct 26, 2010 05:48 PM
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A dear elderly relative was staying with me and decided to fry up something using my All-Clad skillet. As her poor late husband always joked, he didn't marry her for her skills in the kitchen, and they ate out a lot. She treated her inexpensive pans as disposables, given her tendency to forget what was on the burner.

Well, when I happened upon the smoky scene, it was evident that the pan had been heavily splattered and seriously overheated. It wasn't warped, but burned on oil covered much of the bottom and all of the sides of the inside of the skillet. After it cooled off I soaked it for a long time with soapy water, and used scrub pads and lots of Bar Keepers Friend, and it looks better than it was.

There is still a lot of residue on the sides and on part of the bottom cooking surface of the skillet, after lots of elbow grease with Bar Keepers Friend, and long soaks with white vinegar as someone suggested.

Is this pan hopeless, or do Chowhounds have some other good suggestions for returning this pan to its shiny old self?

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  1. Oh dear, it feels like we all have a story like that - and you're so very generous (and good-humored) about it. My wonderful mom was visiting me as a grad student several years and decided to help me out with dinner by cooking some rice in my anodized calphalon pot , which was a gift and one of the few fairly decent pots I owned at the time. Her well-intended efforts resulted in a whole layer of rice getting burnt and stuck to the bottom of the pan (and she is truly a phenomenal cook - she just hadn't used this type of pan before).

    Feeling terrible about it, she then tried to clean up the pan - by scraping at it with a butter knife. Well, you can guess what happened. She of course then went out unbeknownst to me and got me a replacement, which I certainly wasn't expecting and which ended up making ME feel bad (she is on a limited budget and never would have bought that pan for herself).

    I unfortunately don't have any advice to offer re: cleaning up the pan, except to say that if you end up not being able to fix it, at least it's a reminder of a great story that many can relate to (and maybe even adds a tad of character to the pan :-)).

    3 Replies
    1. re: iyc_nyc

      "My wonderful mom was visiting me as a grad student "

      That reads like your mom was the grad student, but I assume you were the one. Don't you earn big bucks as a graduate student? Can't you pay her back? :P

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Haha, she would never take it. In fact, I refused to take the replacement pan hoping she'd then use it, but she then stored it in the attic unused and then one day when visiting me again brought it with her.

        My family is like that - we fight over paying the check when eating out etc. (meaning, we fight to pay it). The only way I can get my mom to take things from us - even after she has basically sacrificed her whole life for us and after that for her aging parents - is by doing or buying things for her that are hard for her to give back or return.

        1. re: iyc_nyc

          "even after she has basically sacrificed her whole life for us and after that for her aging parents "

          Ain't that right? Some people take care of their parents and their children, like your parents and my parents. And some people cannot take care of neither, like me.

    2. I would recommend Bar Keepers Friend and elbow grease. The powder BKF seems a bit better for these chores. Get as much off as you can the first time around, then let it sit (and you rest), then I like to take a lemon to it and repeat with BKF. If that doesn't work, then I reheat the pan with water in it and try BKF again. I know it is repetitive but the first round usually works, and the second almost always does.

      1. Well, Bar Keeper's Friend is very useful for removing oxidation stain, so is vinegar, but it appears you are talking about oil residue. I would try baking soda. Make a fairly concentrated baking soda solution (like 1-2 tablespoon per 1 cup of water), pour it in the pan and bring it to a boil and it soak.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          I use BKF and an SOS (non-scratch) pad on oil residue all the time. Just last night I used it after I fried sage leaves in an All-Clad pan and had tons of high-heat oil residue. Maybe there is a better way of removing oil residue, but with five minutes of BKF/scrubbing, the pan is shiny. That's my experience. I used to reheat the pan with liquid first and then scrub, but now I go with BKF first and heat as the last resort. I just found that the reheating/soaking wouldn't get the high edges of the pan where the oil splattered and seemed most hardened.

          1. re: smkit

            :) Thanks. I think Bar Keeper's Friend is an excellent option. I was just wondering that the original poster can also try the basic route like using baking soda -- just to cover the bases with acidic and basic methods.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Thanks, I will give the baking soda solution a try.

              Believe me, I have used plenty of BKF and lots and lots of elbow grease in five or six separate cleaning sessions in hot water, as well as a long vinegar soak followed by more BKF followed by a light boil of vinegar and more BKF.

              There are still some small spots scattered around the bottom of the pan, and the sides are perhaps 15-20% covered. I have used this pan for more than a decade and never had to use anything other than one scrubbing session with BKF to restore it to shiny happiness, even after a high temperature sear with resulting splatters.

              1. re: Dan D

                I don't know if you want to go there or not, but there are a number of metal polishes that might do the trick. They are slightly abrasive, but because they are a polish, should not dull the pan. Just make sure you do the entire surface so it all matches and you don't get blotches. In order of least abrasive, just a couple that come to mind: SemiChrome polish, Blue Magic Metal Polish, Mothers Mag Wheel Polish. We use SemiChrome to polish molds and remove staining, it works great, just a little on a folded rag and rub in the same motion as the pad was polished at the factory. You can get these at auto parts stores, the SemiChrome comes in a small metal tube, it doesn't take much.

        2. Although Bar Keepers Friend is an excellent cleaner for SS pots and pans, for carbonized burnt on oil and foods I will often resort to an application of Dawn Power Dissolver first. This strong cleaner will penetrate and dissolve a lot of baked on deposits if left to sit for a while. More than one application may be needed for really bad situations and then on to the BKF to finish.

          1 Reply
          1. re: scubadoo97

            Second on the Dawn Power Dissolver.

            I haven't needed to use it on any of our All Clad pans, but did use it on a stainless steel grill pan with oil residue cooked on to the surface that BKF wouldn't remove. It did need more than one application; I can't remember if it was two applications or three. I think the first time I didn't leave it on long enough before starting to clean it off.

          2. Does Magic eraser work on stainless steel pots?

            1. I use a product called Carbon-Off to clean grease residue off stainless pans. If you have a restaurant supply nearby, you could pick up a can, or order it online. It is made by Discovery Products. It is caustic, so wear gloves, but it has cleaned up some nasty pans for me!

              1. I use SoftScrub on both my All-Clad & Calphalon stainless. Since the inside is brushed, I've occasionally used a fine ScotchBrite pad with SoftScrub on it to remove hardened oil spatter. On the polished outside, SoftScrub on a sponge will preserve the polished finish.

                1. How about Grease Bullet Stain Remover?

                  I don't have personal experience with it but it has worked for my friends pots and pans.

                  1. oven cleaner, assuming that this skillet has an interior and exterior made fully of stainless steel, with no exposed aluminum. Much easier and faster than fussing with something like baking soda that won't work well.

                    1. Wow, thanks for all the suggestions, I appreciate the help.

                      This skillet is All-Clad LTD, so if I try oven cleaner on it I will mask off the outside surfaces.

                      1. NO OVEN CLEANER!!!!!!!!
                        http://www.all-clad.com/collections/L...

                        How dark is the residue? I would try heating up the pan, add a little oil till it starts smoking lightly, and scrub it with paper towel (protect your hands at the same time of course).

                        1. You'd be amazed what Goo-Gone is good for. I bet it will do the trick!