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Oct 25, 2011 08:02 AM

Cleaning Stainless Steel

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?

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  1. 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.

    1. 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

        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

          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


            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

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

              Here's a good explanation:


              1. re: Xhale12

                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

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

                  1. re: taos

                    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

                  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.


              2. 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

                  This one? Credits to the Chowhound community :-)

                  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

                    Thanks for the help guys!

                    Watch vid now.

                    1. re: cutipie721

                      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

                        Just watched the Rouxbe video. Great info.

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

                        1. re: Xhale12

                          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

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

                      3. re: Jay F

                        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

                          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

                            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. 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. 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

                            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

                              "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

                                Just watched the Rouxbe video. Great info.

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

                                1. re: Xhale12

                                  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

                                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

                                  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

                                    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

                                      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:


                                      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

                                        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.)