HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
What's your latest food project? Tell us about it
TELL US

Cleaning Stainless Steel

x
Xhale12 Oct 25, 2011 08:02 AM

Hey guys. I just got my first set of good quality SS cookware, but have no idea how to keep them looking nice. I got BarCleaners Friend. How often should I use it?

I know not to use the dishwasher but what kind of soap should I use when cleaning them?

  1. SWISSAIRE Nov 6, 2013 03:10 PM

    Hi Xhale -

    My wife and I cook almost exclusively with stainless steel.

    Our collection is 97 % Rösle-Teknika, and a few pieces of Spring of Switzerland, Fissler, and Stöckli.

    Good stainless cookware is usually heavy, forgiving, and can be placed in a refrigerator, in an oven, and on an induction cooktop. As mentioned above, it can be hand or dishwasher cleaned.

    I would caution on tomato sauce with any sugar in the mix. That combination you do not want to leave sitting in a sink, soaking overnight. The mix can lead to irreversible pitting very quickly as a neighbour of ours discovered.

    Sure, you can soak your pans for awhile, but wash, clean and rinse your pans the same day.

    Also on the subject of pitting, ensure that you only add salt to water when it it boiling, and well stirred. If salt or especially sea salt crystals sit on the interior of a stainless pan, they will leave observable pitting spots.

    BarTenders Keeper, a very good but abrasive product is essentially oxalic acid ( H2C2O4 ). As mentioned above it can be used, but needs to be well rinsed off with soap and water. I use it sparingly on stainless steel, brass, copper, and even to bleach the wood brightware on our sailboat.

    If on the other hand we have guests over, we clean the cookware using BTK first, as our kitchen is open to the den and fireplace where our guest will inevitably take notice and get involved in the process.

    I would helpfully suggest a simple drop or two of olive oil rubbed into your cookware when it is cleaned and dry. That will help keep the shine and attractiveness of your cookware

    1. v
      Vidute Nov 10, 2012 10:05 PM

      I grew up with stainless steel and it is still a part of my kitchen. I use them for everything, even crepes. Just a light brushing of melted butter every third crepe.

      1. e
        escondido123 Nov 10, 2012 09:13 PM

        My favorite "tool" for cleaning SS pans is a stainless steel curly scrubby. It cleans it down to the bare metal, including all the brown crud from the oil itself, and doesn't leave me with a gunky sponge. It looks like these--http://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Steel... though I just by them one at a time at the grocery store.

        1. a
          audiegrace Dec 17, 2011 11:13 AM

          I have had high quality stainless steel cookware for over 40 years and have used Fuller Brush Stainless Steel scouring pads. They won't scratch the stainless because it is just like using a stainless utensil. These are not like Brillo or SOS pads which I never even have in my house lest someone makes a mistake and uses it on my cookware! My mother used the same pads for years on her Revereware stainless before I did so they have been around a long time. They work great on stainless steel sinks too. I use Bartender's Keeper if necessary but most of the time I just use a little dish soap. The best way to keep the outside of your stainless cookware clean (especially if you cook with gas) is to lightly use the scrubber pad every time you wash the pot. I call my cookware my " kitchen jewelry" because it is always bright and shiny. I find it hard to believe that all the blogs on this subject didn't include this marvelous method. You can order pads from QVC and Fuller Brush directly. They aren't cheap, but they last a long time; I probably use two or three a year at most.

          1. e
            escondido123 Nov 3, 2011 08:19 PM

            I keep the inside of my SS pans clean with an SOS pad but keeping the outside spotless and "color" free seems pointless since I keep the pans in a drawer (not on display) and have better things to do with my time.

            1 Reply
            1. re: escondido123
              s
              sueatmo Dec 19, 2011 06:57 AM

              I like to periodically clean the bottoms of my stainless pans. I use Brillo pads usually. Cleaning stainless is easy, really.

            2. e
              escondido123 Oct 25, 2011 08:21 PM

              It took me a long time to figure out SS pans, though I now know what to use them for. Still use Teflon for what I consider truly non-stick cooking--especially eggs--but now appreciate SS for meats and such. I clean SS with Brillo/SOS pads and don't understand why some folks handle them with kids glove--they're STAINLESS steel so that should tell the story.

              10 Replies
              1. re: escondido123
                Jay F Oct 25, 2011 08:28 PM

                I can't fit in kid's gloves any longer, but I don't think I've used Brillo or SOS once in my life. And I'm older than most of you.

                Why is it important to you that we clean our stainless the way you clean yours?

                1. re: Jay F
                  Chemicalkinetics Oct 25, 2011 08:29 PM

                  "Why is it important to you that we clean our stainless the way you clean yours?"

                  escondido did not say that. escondido simply said one does not need to be extremely careful with stainless steel clad cookware for they are made of stainless steel. Unlike cast iron, there is no worry for leaving stainless steel cookware in a sink full of water. Unlike enameled cast iron, there is no concern of using metal utensils or toughing it against the stove. Unlike Teflon cookware, the temperature limit of a cladded cookware is much higher...etc.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    x
                    Xhale12 Oct 25, 2011 08:52 PM

                    Just watched the Rouxbe video. Great info.

                    Do you guys think a membership to that site would be worth it??

                    1. re: Xhale12
                      Chemicalkinetics Oct 25, 2011 09:05 PM

                      I don't have the membership, but I don't think it is necessary. That video is well made, but it didn't say anything that is revolution. What it stated in the video is common knowledge and you would have picked it up by talking to people, reading cookbooks or watching cooking show... or you will figure on your own sooner or later.

                  2. re: Jay F
                    e
                    escondido123 Oct 26, 2011 08:17 AM

                    I don't care how anyone cleans their SS, but that's what the OP asked. Thanks for helping me out Chemicalkinetics.

                    1. re: escondido123
                      Chemicalkinetics Oct 26, 2011 09:22 AM

                      No need to thank me. :) I read your comment and simply think JayF's description/accusation of your post is inaccurate. That's all.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        x
                        Xhale12 Nov 3, 2011 10:33 AM

                        I just cleaned my pan yesterday using Palmolive and now the bottom of the pan has a rainbow looking discoloration. How do I get rid of this and why did it appear?

                        1. re: Xhale12
                          Chemicalkinetics Nov 3, 2011 12:12 PM

                          That is nothing. It is actually the sign of God. No, just kidding. Really, it is a sign of overheated pan. Bar Keeper's Friend is a very effective cleaner for removing these type of stains:

                          http://www.barkeepersfriend.com/

                          and you will need it sooner or later for this or for something else.

                          Now, if you cannot get hold of it anytime soon, then try white vinegar.

                          1. re: Xhale12
                            tanuki soup Nov 3, 2011 05:56 PM

                            If you don't feel like scrubbing your pan every time the rainbow discoloration appears, it will most likely disappear on its own the next time you cook something slightly acidic, like tomato sauce. (It won't affect the flavor.)

                            1. re: tanuki soup
                              Chemicalkinetics Nov 3, 2011 06:05 PM

                              :D True.

                              Or you could get double rainbow

                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MX0D4o...

                  3. c
                    cutipie721 Oct 25, 2011 04:12 PM

                    If I were you, I would return the set until I have figured out exactly what kind of cooking would benefit from cooking in SS cookware. If you're completely satisfied with cast iron today, chances are you probably don't need them to begin with.

                    1. Jay F Oct 25, 2011 03:28 PM

                      Sticking isn't a problem for me since I watched a video from some cooking school on youtube. Someone is bound to remember the name. I made a terrific batch of sauteed shrimp and scallops in a wine/lemon juice sauce the other night. The pan (12") heated nicely out to the edge, nothing burned, nothing stuck.

                      I heat the pan over a medium flame, add the oil and let it heat up, then add the food. I let it cook to the point of self-release on the first side before turning it. Then I turn it, and when it's done, I move it to a plate and make a sauce in the pan.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Jay F
                        c
                        cutipie721 Oct 25, 2011 04:07 PM

                        This one? Credits to the Chowhound community :-)
                        http://rouxbe.com/cooking-school/less...

                        There maybe some learning curve for people who are not used to cooking in stainless steel. I, for one, never had any sticking issues since I watched the above series of videos.

                        1. re: cutipie721
                          x
                          Xhale12 Oct 25, 2011 04:20 PM

                          Thanks for the help guys!

                          Watch vid now.

                          1. re: cutipie721
                            Jay F Oct 25, 2011 08:24 PM

                            Yes. That's it. Thanks, cutie. Ever since, perfect whatever every time. I was so pleased with the shrimp in particular.

                            1. re: Jay F
                              x
                              Xhale12 Oct 25, 2011 08:51 PM

                              Just watched the Rouxbe video. Great info.

                              Do you guys think a membership to that site would be worth it?

                              1. re: Xhale12
                                Jay F Oct 25, 2011 09:05 PM

                                I've not tried it. If everything is as dependably correct as the "HT pan fry in stainless" video, it could be very good.

                            2. re: cutipie721
                              k
                              Kleraudio Nov 6, 2013 02:32 PM

                              To go further than the first video it says I need to join..... lame

                            3. re: Jay F
                              j
                              jkling17 Nov 3, 2011 06:37 PM

                              Hi Xhale,

                              Jay's advice here is good. But between the lines it is outlining a larger questions or issue, which others have touched on as well. So you bought this set but ... you aren't really sure what you are going to use it for ...

                              And that's ok - really it is. You are asking some honest questions and we hopefully can help you out. One person suggested returning the set. That might actually bear consideration. I have MANY pots, pans, and skillets. Yet I still do find that a FEW of my stainless pieces get limited use.

                              Here are my humble observations where stainless fits into MY life and there may or may not be any overlap to your cooking needs.

                              1. Large Stockpot with cover. The bigger the better. They are super for boiling pasta, potatoes, etc. Or ... steaming - just about anything. Bottom line is there should be one really big pot in your life. My 5 quart dutch oven is fantastic but isn't beig enough for everything and certainly can't brine a turkey!

                              2. Medium pot with cover. Boiling eggs but we don't do that much these days. What I do with it, now and then and not really all that often is for brining chicken (8-16 hours in the fridge - the stainless won't flavor the food and it won't break open like a plastic bag might) Also for combination brine/jerk marinade.

                              3. I did have one amazing deep side, heavy bottom stainless fry pan. This was my workhorse pan at one point in time and I did amazing chicken cutlets in it, with custom pan sauces. And it was also oven safe. Unfortunately the damn handle eventually came off (spot welded instead of rivets). And I did miss it for a while but I find that my 10" and 12" cast iron skillets fulfill most of the places in my life where this pan really excelled. And my Calphalon skillet fills in most of the other areas.

                              BUT ... I have to freely admit that a good stainless skillet or frypan is without peer if you want to saute/fry something and get a good fond to then make a proper pan sauce. I CAN get this done with my best nonstick but ... it's not as good. A proper stainless skillet is perfect if you want to get that nice crust on a piece of meat and then develop a pan sauce from the fond/drippings/scrapings/deglasing

                              Ok so ... really in my opinion if you CAN return the set and instead get ONE really nice big pot with cover that will likely fulfill a need. You MIGHT also wish to have one medium pot for things where you don't want to use cast iron. For me that's brining and marinades. I don't want to do that in plastic or cast iron.

                              On the flip side of the equation maybe you got a great deal on that set and just want to keep it anyway? Just watch out to avoid scorching the heck out of any of them and you'll be set. Stainless is very easy to take care of. I never use the dishwasher for pots/pans. A quick soak with hot water after cooking and they clean up in no time flat.

                              I hope that this helps you!

                              1. re: jkling17
                                e
                                escondido123 Nov 3, 2011 08:18 PM

                                Please tell me why a SS stock pot--including its higher cost--is better than a just plan big stock pot, bought second hand if possible.

                                1. re: escondido123
                                  j
                                  jkling17 Nov 3, 2011 08:56 PM

                                  Well I don't think of a SS stock pot as all that expensive, especially when my recommendation is to consider getting JUST the stock pot instead of an entire set of SS pots/pans. Much of that set may get little or no use since xhale already has various pots/pans for most of the cooking in his/her life.

                                  I did a quick search and Amazon has many options for SETS of SS crock pots, ranging from $30-40. The larger pots in these sets are 16 quarts or even 20 quarts - NICE!

                                  >> Please tell me why a SS stock pot--including its higher cost--is better than a just plan big stock pot, bought second hand if possible.

                                  It's not my place to say if $30-40 is appropriate for xhale's budget. Or yours. I am merely pointing out what I would do. I consider that a good value. I also don't want to spend gosh knows how much time on craigslist, ebay, or thrift stores - merely to find a single good used crock pot for my kitchen.

                                  All that aside - one might infer that xhale isn't quite so concerned about a few dollars, considering that she just bought an entire set of ss cookware :-)

                            4. Chemicalkinetics Oct 25, 2011 08:41 AM

                              Stainless steel cladded cookware are easy to take care. In fact, that is its strongest point -- the stainless steel surface is very inert. All stainless steel cookwares can go in dishwasher with very few exceptions. You can leave foods in the stainless steel cookwares for as long as you like without damaging the cookware. They can handle acidic foods, basic foods, as well as high temperature cooking.

                              Bar Keepers Friend is a good cleaner if you like to keep the stainless steel surface bright and shiny. You can use it as often as you like and as little as you wish.

                              You can use any dishwasher detergent/soap on stainless steel surface.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                x
                                Xhale12 Oct 25, 2011 12:25 PM

                                Im still confused on what I should use stainless steel for. I use cast iron for soups, stews, chilis, etc..., non stick for eggs, so do I just do everything else I stainless steel. I have no idea how to use it or what to use it for.

                                1. re: Xhale12
                                  e
                                  E_M Oct 25, 2011 12:47 PM

                                  Then why did you buy it? What do you want to cook that your current setup doesn't let you?

                                  Heat the pan, and when it gets hot, add cold oil. Wait until the oil shimmers, then start cooking.

                                  SS's advantages are that it is non-reactive (so there is no seasoning and it won't take on other flavors) and that you can put it in the dishwasher. If you are able too cook fine with CI, well...that's what a lot of people do.

                                  1. re: Xhale12
                                    Chemicalkinetics Oct 25, 2011 02:50 PM

                                    Xhale,

                                    You can use stainless steel cladded cookware for many thing. Particularly, it is also good for soups, stews, chilis.... Its weakness is that many things stick easily to stainless steel. You can work around it but it requires sufficient oil and sufficient skill, so making stir fry or frying an egg can be challenging.

                                    1. re: Xhale12
                                      tanuki soup Oct 26, 2011 02:18 AM

                                      I like stainless steel cookware for recipes that involve deglazing. (Alternatives are enameled cast iron and ceramic-coated steel.)

                                      Here's a good explanation:

                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deglazin...

                                      1. re: Xhale12
                                        s
                                        sueatmo Oct 27, 2011 09:36 PM

                                        Unless your pans have a non stick coating on them, you can, and should dishwash them. I take care that the bottoms of my pans are clean. I have a theory that burnt on stuff on the bottoms interferes with heat transfer to the pan. It will mess up your burners for sure, though. You can use Bar Keeper's Friend to scour the pans--when needed--or you can use an SOS pad. Another cleaner to try is Cameo.

                                        All of these can also be used on your stainless sink, if that is what you have.

                                        I use my stainless saute pan frequently, especially if I will be adding tomatoes to the dish. I boil water for tea in my smallest s/pan. Mr. Sueatmo heats his soup in the same s/pan. I cooked Beluga lentils tonight in a stainless pot. You can use your s/pans for boiling and mashing potatoes, for cooking rice, for making oatmeal. And for cleanup, you can put your pans in the dishwasher.

                                        1. re: sueatmo
                                          t
                                          taos Nov 10, 2012 06:21 PM

                                          Not everyone has a dishwasher. Any advice for the dishwasher-less?

                                          1. re: taos
                                            b
                                            blaireso Nov 4, 2013 01:28 PM

                                            Fill with hot water, bring to a boil, add baking soda and a drop of dish soap and let soak while you do your other dishes. Food should come right off. If you have stubborn spots, use Bar Keeper's Friend.

                                        2. re: Xhale12
                                          k
                                          kaleokahu Nov 10, 2012 09:32 PM

                                          Hi, Exhale:

                                          It's hard, isn't it? SS just isn't a very inviting cooking surface, IMO. Causes a lot of indecision/uncertainty. Food is messy, leaves good stuff behind. SS is sterile--dissonance results.

                                          But you can run it through the DW, autoclave it, nuke it. It passes House Beautiful and mother-in-law muster. Is that enough?

                                          I think you may be coping with its soulessness. It's not your fault, just the way it is.

                                          Aloha,
                                          Kaleo

                                      2. SanityRemoved Oct 25, 2011 08:39 AM

                                        Bar Keepers Friend is a great product but I don't use it unless normal cleaning using any general dish washing soap doesn't work. It is a light abrasive and requires thorough rinsing.

                                        After the pan is clean the only thing I make sure is removed is any hardened oil residue.

                                        Over time discoloration may occur that you might want to remove. I find buffing with a dry flour sack towel works well for the shiny exterior.

                                        Show Hidden Posts