Guide to Simplifying the Cleaning Process of Cookware

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Home Improvement

After enjoying a scrumptious and satisfying meal, the last thing you want is to be stuck with a pile of dirty dishes and cookware. While we can’t offer you a helping hand, we can provide some useful tips and advice to make the cleaning process of your cookware a breeze.

General Tips for Cleaning Cookware

Prior to discussing the cleaning methods for individual surfaces, here are some useful suggestions for cleaning cookware in general.

The first step in caring for any cookware is to read the manufacturer’s instructions. Thoroughly wash all pots and pans after each use and avoid subjecting them to sudden temperature changes. To prevent heat stains on the outside of pans, keep gas flames low. When dealing with baked-on food, wash the pan in soapy water and dry it thoroughly before rubbing vegetable oil into it. As for aluminum cookware, never wash it in a dishwasher or let it soak in soapy water for too long. To remove discoloration, simmer the pan with cream of tartar or lemon juice and scour it with a steel-wool soap pad. For cast-iron cookware, wash it in hot, soapy water and dry it thoroughly before storing it in a dry cupboard without its lid. It’s important to never wash cast-iron cookware in the dishwasher. Finally, clay and enamel cookware require special care, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

To properly use new clay cookware, soak it in water for thirty minutes before the first use, making sure to soak the top and bottom thoroughly. Then, scrub it with a stiff brush to remove any clay dust. To prevent the porous surface from absorbing food stains and strong flavors, line the cooker with parchment paper. If the pot becomes stained or has strong odors, fill it with water and add 1 to 4 tablespoons baking soda. Never put hot clay cookware on a cold surface as it may crack. Additionally, do not wash clay cookware in the dishwasher or scrub it with a steel-wool soap pad. After cleaning, carefully dry the cooker before storing it to prevent mold, and store it without the lid. If mold spots appear, brush the surface with a paste made of equal parts baking soda and water, let it stand for thirty minutes, and rinse well in clear water. To loosen cooked-on foods, soak a dirty pot if necessary.

To clean enamel cookware, let it cool before washing to avoid cracking the enamel coating due to rapid temperature changes. Enamelware can be washed safely in the dishwasher, and you can use a synthetic scouring pad to scrub stubborn soil. Never use abrasive cleansers or steel wool.

Copper cookware changes color with use and exposure to air. To clean a discolored copper pot, make a paste with salt, white vinegar, and flour or lemon juice and salt, and wear rubber gloves. Wash the pot in hot soapy water and rinse it before buffing for shiny results. If you prefer shiny copper, you can clean and polish it easily with commercial copper cleaner. Copper cookware is lined with another metal, usually tin or steel, to prevent harmful chemical reactions with food. Use only wood, nylon, or nonstick-coated spoons for stirring to avoid scratches. Some copper cookware comes with a protective lacquer coating that must be removed before the utensil is heated. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions or place it in a solution of baking soda and boiling water. Let it stand until the water is cool, peel off the coating, wash, rinse, and dry. To prevent scorching, make sure there is always liquid or fat in the pan before placing it on the heat. When melting butter, swirl it around in the bottom of the pan and up the sides, and lower the heat as soon as the contents of the pot reach the boiling point.

Just because your cookware has a nonstick coating doesn’t mean it’s effortless to clean. On the next page, you’ll find tips on how to clean it effectively.

Cleaning Cookware with Nonstick Finish

Nonstick coatings are usually thin, making them vulnerable to damage. However, if you follow the suggestions below, your nonstick cookware will endure daily wear and tear.

  • Use spoons and spatulas made of wood, nylon, or specially coated material to prevent surface damage.
  • Most nonstick cookware can be safely washed in the dishwasher. Before using new pans, wash them and lightly coat the inside with vegetable oil.
  • After each wash and when treating stains, apply vegetable oil again.
  • Do not soak pans in soapy water as the coating can retain a soap flavor.
  • To remove stains from nonstick cookware, mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 cup water and 1/2 cup liquid bleach. Boil the solution in the pan for several minutes until the stains disappear, then wash as usual.

Cooking inevitably causes utensils to get dirty. On the next page, we’ll discuss how to clean plastic and rubber cookware.

Cleaning Plastic and Rubber Cookware

Never expose plastic or rubber utensils and containers to high heat. High temperatures can melt and warp some plastics, while rubber products can crack due to heat and sunlight exposure. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if an item is dishwasher-safe. Avoid using solvents, harsh abrasives, or scouring pads to remove stains from plastic or rubber cookware.

  • A paste made of baking soda and water works well for removing stubborn soils and stains from plastic and rubber utensils. Apply the paste to plastic with a sponge or soft cloth. A synthetic scouring pad can be used on rubber.
  • Remove odor from a plastic container by crumpling a piece of newspaper into the container. Secure the lid tightly and leave it overnight. The paper will absorb the odor.

    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Place newspaper in plastic containers to remove odors.

Cleaning stainless steel cookware requires minimal effort. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Read on to learn more.

Cleaning Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel requires little special care, but that doesn’t mean you can neglect it. Here are some tips for keeping your stainless steel cookware in top shape.

  • Stainless steel is dishwasher-safe, but if you wash it by hand, dry it promptly to prevent water spots.
  • Boiling a pot over high heat for an extended period can discolor stainless steel.
  • Storing the cookware stacked with other pots and pans may cause surface scratches.
  • To polish stainless steel, sprinkle baking soda on the wet surface of a pan, and scrub the metal with a synthetic scouring pad. Remember to wear rubber gloves. Rinse and dry the pan to restore its shine.

Wooden utensils are an essential part of any cookware collection. Next, we’ll discuss how to clean this delicate material.

Tips for Caring for Wooden Cookware

Wooden bowls, cutting boards, spoons, rolling pins, salad utensils, and trays require special attention to avoid warping and cracking. The porous nature of wood means it can absorb moisture, which can cause roughness as the water raises the grain. Here are some things to keep in mind when caring for your wooden cookware:

  • Regularly clean and oil cutting boards to maintain their smooth surface and protect them from moisture.
  • Some salad bowls come with a waterproof varnish, but many prefer untreated bowls to absorb seasonings and enhance the flavor of salads.
  • Wipe wooden surfaces immediately after use with a sponge or paper towel moistened in cold water.
  • If you need to wash the wooden item, avoid soaking it in water and never put it in the dishwasher.
  • To remove stains, create a solution of 1/4 cup chlorine bleach and 1 quart warm water. Rinse and dry, then coat with vegetable oil.
  • Eliminate odors by rubbing the surface with a slice of lemon.

    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Use lemon slices to remove odors from wooden surfaces.
  • Baking soda is an effective cleaner and deodorizer for wood. Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 1 quart warm water and rub it on the surface. Be sure to wear rubber gloves.
  • Use a synthetic scouring pad to clean the gummy residue from the edges of a cutting board. Rinse with clear water, blot with a towel, and air-dry.
  • To restore the natural finish, apply boiled linseed oil or vegetable oil to woodenware with a synthetic scouring pad. Apply two thin coats 24 hours apart, wiping off excess oil 30 minutes after each application.

For tips on cleaning glass and ceramic cookware, see the next section.

Tips for Caring for Glass and Ceramic Cookware

Glass and ceramic cookware require gentle care. Here are some guidelines for keeping your glass and ceramic cookware in good condition:

  • Most heat-resistant glass and ceramic-glass cookware is designed for oven use only, but some can be used on stovetops.
  • Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper use of your cookware.
  • All glass and ceramic-glass cookware is dishwasher-safe.
  • Boiling dry glass cookware can cause it to shatter. If a pot boils dry, turn off the heat and let it cool down.
  • To remove mineral deposits from glass coffeepots and teapots, boil full-strength cider vinegar in the container for 15 minutes.

Following these tips and guidelines will help you keep your cookware sparkling clean.

©Publications International, Ltd.


1. What is the best way to clean stainless steel cookware?

The best way to clean stainless steel cookware is to first rinse it with warm water and then use a non-abrasive cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and water to scrub away any leftover food or stains. For tough stains, you can also try using a mixture of vinegar and water, but be sure to rinse thoroughly afterwards. Avoid using steel wool or harsh chemical cleaners, as they can scratch or damage the surface of the cookware.

2. How do I clean non-stick cookware without damaging the coating?

To clean non-stick cookware without damaging the coating, start by washing it with warm water and a mild dish soap. Avoid using abrasive sponges or cleaners, as they can scratch or wear down the coating. For tough stains, you can try soaking the cookware in a mixture of warm water and baking soda, or using a non-abrasive sponge or brush to gently scrub away any residue.

3. Can I put my cookware in the dishwasher?

It depends on the type of cookware you have. Most stainless steel and cast iron cookware can safely be washed in the dishwasher, but non-stick and some other types of cookware may be damaged by the high heat and harsh detergents used in the dishwasher. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions before putting your cookware in the dishwasher.

4. How often should I clean my cookware?

You should clean your cookware after each use to prevent stains and buildup from accumulating. For tougher stains or burnt-on food, you may need to use a more thorough cleaning method. It’s also a good idea to deep clean your cookware every few months or as needed, depending on how often you use it.

5. What should I do if my cookware has become discolored or stained?

If your cookware has become discolored or stained, you can try using a mixture of baking soda and water, or a non-abrasive cleaner, to gently scrub away the discoloration. For more stubborn stains or discoloration, you can try using a mixture of vinegar and water, or a specialized cookware cleaner. Be sure to rinse thoroughly afterwards and avoid using harsh abrasives or steel wool, as they can scratch or damage the surface of the cookware.

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