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Aug 11, 2011 12:34 PM

Going insane re: scratched stainless steel

Hi all,

I am looking for something like a combination of reassurance and a bit of schooling right now.

I am used to cooking with sub-par pans (my mother hardly cooked so I was at the mercy of what was in our kitchen for a very long time). I am recently married, however, and I was lucky enough to receive a giant set of Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless for a shower gift along with Henckels flatware that is very pretty (the Vintage 1876 is lovely and hefty).

While my new husband and I were buying general supplies for our new apartment, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to decide on proper cleaning items for the pans...I am used to using a nylon brush, but he wanted to get one of those blue scrubbers (I guess scotch brite-ish) on a stick that has a hollow handle for dispensing soap. I didn't think much of it and deferred.

A few days later I used said scrubber to very gently prod what hadn't lifted off the pans during a delgaze and was shocked to see tons of scratches all over the beautiful mirror finish...and also on my flatware, from which I had both vigorously washed (egg yolk) and gently went over.

I kind of had a huge freak-out; my husband feels awful - I told him perhaps the nylon brush would have done the same thing - I am not mad at him - how on earth would he have known? But -

1) So, are my brand-spankin'-new pans ruined? Will I ever see the shiny mirror finish again?

2) Will it affect performance? The internet has been surprisingly unhelpful - I've seen some extreme opinions in either direction.

3) Flatware. It looks like it's aged 10 years with all of those scratches. The ones that we hadn't yet washed are still unscathed and shiny since I bought a plain sponge to clean with. I have Jekyll and Hyde forks and knives and such.

I don't know what answers I'm looking for - I feel kind of like a nut, but it has been coming in waves of irritation with myself for not knowing better, somehow. The fact that the scratches on the giant 12" skillet are in the exact pattern I cleaned it in is not helping. I contemplated putting it all on Craigslist and buying new sets. Yes, I know I'm crazy.


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  1. Life is very long and very short. If this is the worst you get, consider yourself very lucky. Nothing to get upset about, the pan will be fine, it will cook fine, so you and your husband can kiss and make up. As to your flatware, what is it made of?

    1 Reply
    1. re: escondido123

      No fighting, I promise. I can't blame him for something we were unaware of. Just lots of mutual irritation with shiny and new being less shiny.

      It's this set - - so 18/10. High polish and great balance.

    2. Okay. You have two options:

      a) you can cook and eat what you made

      b) you can eat take-out from the Golden Arches and other places making handheld food for the rest of your life

      If you do a), you'll be able to make and eat what you want and have have something to share with people who will appreciate it

      If you do b), you'll have great cookware and cutlery to show your guests when they tour your home, but they may ask questions as to why they're eating take-out pizza with their hands and throwaway plates

      Personally, I'd cook. The little scratches do nothing to affect the performance of the cookware and the knives still cut and the forks still poke food. The important thing is the end product on the plate which I will consume with friends and family (or solo depending on the case).

      If you're that bothered about the scratches on your cookware go ahead and sell them off; I'm fairly certain that there would be lots of people who will take them off your hands. Just be prepared to do the same thing with the next set and the next (and so on and so on). Apologies if that last bit sounded like the old Breck commercials.

      4 Replies
      1. re: wattacetti

        It is all part of life, once shiny and new, later worn and loved. Get on with what really matters and enjoy the things you have. You could be eating out of the garbage dump behind a restaurant and sleeping in a card board box.

        1. re: wattacetti

          This reminds me of that ridiculous commercial where the posh couple eat with paper and plastic to avoid using their BEAUTIFUL new kitchen sink.

          1. re: pdxgastro

            Yes! I was thinking the exact same thing!

          2. re: wattacetti

            I am with you on this philosophy. Cookware does not remain looking like it came out of the box a few minutes ago if you actually start using it. Ditto for flatware. I have been married for 30 years, and have used both cheap cookware and expensive cookware for that time. Here are my specific comments:

            1. The mirror finish on your pure stainless steel pots is doomed to dull, or appear scratched. I handwash my pots, and sometimes, even after soaking, you have to scrape and soak and scour. Those mysterious little brown grease stains that seem to burn onto the exterior surface and bottom of your pots have to come off, unless you want dirty looking pots over time. It is more important to clean the pot than to polish it, because using pots with food residue is not good practice. A couple of my oldest stainless steel pots belonged to my grandmother, and I can assure you that she loved these pots, but did not hesitate to take a Brillo pad to the interior, or even the exterior, if the situation called for it. I always soak first, but sometimes you need elbow grease. Performance is not affected. If you want SS to look like a mirror, then buy a few for show and hang them up as display items. Heck, people here (myself included) have been known to use Barkeeper's friend, white vinegar, scrubbies, Oxy Clean and even oven cleaner to remove burned on grease. I take care of my pots, and really handle them with care, but once in a while something happens, meaning, food burns onto the item and soaking does not take it off. Interestingly, if I should happen to use one of my pots to fry in, often the pot starts to look very shiny on the inside once again. This seems to restore the brushed interior finishes well. That said, I think that the popularity of brushed external finishes is testimony to the fact that that mirror finishes just wear out with use.

            2. Even the best "stainless" flatware can rust if you leave them in the dishwasher overnight and empty the machine in the morning. Worse, dishwasher detergents are brutal to these finishes, and can even etch glass, which is common knowledge. I have had this with several sets. The most recent example was when I chose to add additional 18/10 stainless flatware items from Replacements, LTD. They were sooo much shinier than the pieces that were in use for 20 years, but they are catching up fast.

            3. Other materials, such as copper, cast iron, carbon steel, aluminum, and yes, even the beloved light beige interior of LeCreuset pots, will all discolor over time. In the case of LC, which is enameled cast iron, if you can avoid putting anything in there that is not light beige, you will probably be fine for about five or ten years :)

            Don't worry, just clean the pots and display them proudly. I love it when people tell me that I have a "cook's kitchen". It means that they have noticed that I actually USE my kitchen, as well as my pots and gadgets.

          3. I'd be going nuts too!

            "Why's this shit all scratched....!!!"

            I just use a dishrag for things that get washed in the sink. And dishwasher for the rest.

            That is some good looking flatware though. Our is all 20 (!) years old, but the handles have a brushed appearance so who can tell about scratches!

            2 Replies
            1. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

              Thanks for "getting it" - it's like - "This is brand new. Why is it getting so scratched?" I was using silicone utensils, too, so I couldn't figure it out for the life of me. We were REALLY surprised it was the scotch brite! We are living in a teeny tiny apartment right now without a dishwasher; otherwise I doubt I'd have ever touched the flatware with a scrubbie. I love it because it matches the Queen Anne line we have from Pillivuyt so well and feels great to hold. :-) My mom has had her flatware for 30+ years and it is well-loved - I sort of imagined mine would be like that several years from now, not the first time I washed it. But we'll survive.

              1. re: Orange_Blossom

                In my experience stainless scratches. Your stainless sink will scratch, your stainless pans will scratch, and your flatware will ultimately stain and scratch. Shiny finishes will show scratches the most. Frankly, I use old fashioned scouring pads if necessary, on the sink and pans. I don't know how your pans got scratched but I don't think the implement you used caused any damage.

                You bought really nice stuff. The value of the pans is in the functionality and the terrific meals you produce with them, and (at least to me) the overall aesthetic quality. I'd value this over whether they are pristine. Wattacetti has the right attitude on this, IMO.

            2. You sound like me the first time I looked at the scratches I put on my first All-Clad skillet the first time I washed it (dish liquid and a Dobie pad). Eventually, I got over it. I didn't even try to "baby" my next piece of all-clad. It's cookware. I don't think about it anymore.

              Same with flatware. I had been using a set of bistro flatware with plastic handles, so the scratching over the years wasn't as noticeable as it was when I switched to all-stainless flatware. But I got over that, too.

              The alternatives are cast iron (enameled or plain), matte-finish stainless, or aluminum cookware, and of course, matte-finish stainless flatware.

              In time, if you're anything like me, you'll get over it. It won't take as long as you think. A scrubbed pot is a cooked-in pot, and that's a good thing.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Jay F

                Yes, just the other night I took a stainless whisk to one of the still-unscathed pans because the silicone one I have (not a balloon whisk, but a rather whimsical shape better for putting air into cream) wasn't cutting it...lots of little scratches now, but for some reason I felt ok about it. I'm trying to get over it and remind myself that they are tools. I am glad I'm not a crazy person, though.

                1. re: Orange_Blossom

                  "I am glad I'm not a crazy person, though."

                  You realize, of course, this doesn't mean you're not a crazy person.... ;-)

                  (I have no idea if you're still monitoring this thread or not.)

              2. A pan without scratches is like a car with no miles on it. No one wants to just pile up miles on their new car, but that's what it's for. No one wants to get scratches on the new pots and pans or flatware, but if you use them, that's what's going to happen. Take the advice above and use and enjoy your cookware. On the otherhand, don't put that Van Gogh in the dishwasher, there are some things that are best not scratched.