Tips for Easy Cookware Cleanup

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Home Improvement

After enjoying a scrumptious meal with your loved ones, cleaning up the dirty pots and pans can be a daunting task. However, with these helpful tips, you can make the cookware cleanup process a breeze.

Although we can’t offer you a personal cleaner, we can provide you with some excellent guidelines that will make cleaning up after cooking a much simpler task.

General Cleaning Tips for Cookware

Before we start discussing different types of cookware cleaning methods, let’s take a look at some general cleaning tips that can be applied to any type of cookware:

The first step in caring for cookware is to read the manufacturer’s care instructions. It is important to wash all pots and pans thoroughly inside and out soon after use. If there is baked-on food, wash the pan in soapsuds and dry it thoroughly after washing over a warm burner. Rub vegetable oil into the pan with a paper towel. To prevent heat stains, keep gas flames low so that they cannot lick up the side of the pot. It is important not to subject cookware to sudden temperature changes; allow all cookware to cool before washing or soaking. Aluminum cookware has the added problem of becoming discolored. To protect aluminum cookware from discoloration, never wash it in a dishwasher or let it soak in soapy water for long periods of time. Use a steel-wool soap pad to remove burned-on food on cast-aluminum cookware. Liquid nonabrasive bathroom cleanser or a paste of baking soda and water used with a synthetic scouring pad will polish both cast and sheet aluminum. Cast-iron cookware has a tendency to rust if it is not kept properly seasoned. Wash cast-iron cookware in hot sudsy water, then dry it thoroughly, and store in a dry cupboard without its lid in place. Clay and enamel cookware needs extra-special care.

When using new clay cookware, it is important to soak both the top and bottom in water for about 30 minutes before the first use. After soaking, scrub the cookware with a stiff brush to remove any clay dust. To prevent food stains and strong flavors from being absorbed into the porous surface, line the pot with parchment paper. If the clay pot becomes stained or has pungent odors, fill it with water and add 1 to 4 tablespoons of baking soda, then let it stand. Never put hot clay cookware on a cold surface as it may crack. It is also important to never wash clay cookware in the dishwasher or scrub it with a steel-wool soap pad. To prevent mold, make sure to carefully dry the cooker before storing it and store it with the lid off. If mold does appear, a paste made of equal parts baking soda and water can be used to brush the surface, then rinse well and dry. Soaking a dirty pot is also an effective way to loosen cooked-on foods.

Enamel cookware should always be allowed to cool before washing, as rapid changes in temperature can crack the enamel coating. It is safe to wash enamelware in the dishwasher and a synthetic scouring pad should be used for stubborn soil instead of abrasive cleansers or steel wool.

Copper cookware should be cleaned properly to prevent it from changing color. To clean a discolored copper pot, a paste of salt, white vinegar, and flour can be used. However, caution should be taken and rubber gloves should be worn. Copper also darkens with use and exposure to air, but can be easily cleaned and polished with commercial copper cleaner. It is important to use only wood, nylon, or nonstick-coated spoons for stirring to prevent scratches. Some copper cookware comes with a protective lacquer coating that must be removed before heating. When using copper pans, make sure there is always liquid or fat in the pan to prevent scorching. 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 boiling point.

Just because a cookware has a nonstick finish, it doesn’t always mean it’s easy to clean. Below are some tips on how to clean it without damaging the surface. Nonstick coatings are relatively thin, so it’s important to handle them carefully. First, use only wood, nylon, or specially coated spoons and spatulas to prevent surface damage. Most nonstick cookware can be safely washed in the dishwasher, but it’s important to wash new pans before using them and lightly coat the inside with vegetable oil. After each washing in the dishwasher and after treating for stains, apply vegetable oil again. Avoid soaking 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 of water and 1/2 cup of liquid bleach. Boil the solution in the pan for several minutes until the stains disappear, then wash as usual. Moving on to plastic and rubber cookware, it should never be exposed to high heat as it can melt or crack. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if an item is dishwasher-safe, and avoid using solvents, harsh abrasives, or scouring pads to remove stains. Instead, use a paste made of baking soda and water, which is very effective for removing stubborn soils and stains from plastic and rubber utensils. To remove odor from a plastic container, crumple a piece of newspaper into the container, secure the lid tightly, and leave it overnight. The paper will absorb the odor. As for stainless steel cookware, it requires little special care, but there are some things you need to do to keep it in good shape. Stainless steel is dishwasher-safe, but if you wash it by hand, dry it promptly to prevent water spots. Avoid letting a pot boil over high heat for a long period of time as it will 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. Wear rubber gloves and be cautious. After rinsing and drying, the pan will be bright as new. Finally, to clean wood cutting boards and spoons, it’s important to handle them differently. Stay tuned for the next page to learn how to clean this tricky surface.

Caring for Wooden Cookware

Wooden cookware such as bowls, trays, rolling pins, spoons, salad utensils, and cutting boards require special care to prevent warping and cracking. Wood is porous and absorbs moisture, which can cause the wood to become rough. Here are some tips to consider when caring for wooden cookware:

  • Periodically clean and oil cutting boards to restore their smooth surfaces and protect them from moisture.
  • Some salad bowls are treated with waterproof varnish, but many prefer untreated bowls to absorb seasoning and enhance the flavor of salad.
  • Wipe wood immediately after use with a sponge or paper towel moistened with cold water.
  • If the wood item needs to be washed, avoid soaking it in water and never put it in the dishwasher.
  • Remove stains with a solution of 1/4 cup chlorine bleach and 1 quart warm water. Rinse and dry, then coat with vegetable oil to keep the wood from drying out.
  • Eliminate odors by rubbing the surface with a slice of lemon or cleaning with a mixture of 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 quart warm water.
  • Use a synthetic scouring pad to clean a cutting board. Scour the gummy residue on the edges of the board. Rinse with clear water, blot the moisture with a towel, and air-dry.
  • Give woodenware a coat of boiled linseed oil or vegetable oil to bring back the natural finish. Apply two thin coats, 24 hours apart, wiping off the excess 30 minutes after each application.

Following these tips will help you keep your wooden cookware in excellent condition for years to come.

Cleaning Glass and Ceramic Cookware

Glass and ceramic cookware require gentle care. To ensure that your cookware is properly cared for, follow these guidelines:

  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to use your cookware appropriately.
  • Most heat-resistant glass and ceramic-glass cookware is designed for oven use only, but some can be used on stovetops.
  • All glass and ceramic-glass cookware is dishwasher-safe.
  • Glass cookware that is allowed to boil dry is likely to shatter. If a pot boils dry, turn off the heat and leave the pot where it is until it has cooled.
  • To remove mineral deposits from glass coffeepots and teapots, boil full-strength cider vinegar in the container for 15 minutes.

By following these tips, you can keep your glass and ceramic cookware sparkling for years to come.

Now that you’ve learned how to care for your cookware properly, it’s time to use it to create your next delicious meal!


1. What is the best way to clean burnt-on food from pots and pans?

The best way to clean burnt-on food from pots and pans is by using a mixture of baking soda and water. Combine equal parts of baking soda and water to create a paste. Apply the paste to the burnt-on food and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. Then, use a scrub brush or sponge to scrub away the burnt-on food. Rinse the pot or pan thoroughly with water and dry it with a clean towel.

2. Can I use steel wool to clean my cookware?

Yes, you can use steel wool to clean your cookware, but be careful not to use it on non-stick surfaces as it can scratch and damage the coating. When using steel wool, make sure to apply gentle pressure and scrub in a circular motion. Rinse the cookware thoroughly with water and dry it with a clean towel.

3. How do I clean my cast iron skillet?

To clean a cast iron skillet, use a stiff-bristled brush or a chainmail scrubber to remove any food particles or debris. Rinse the skillet with hot water and dry it thoroughly with a clean towel. If there are any stubborn food particles that won’t come off, you can sprinkle a little coarse salt onto the skillet and scrub it with a paper towel. After cleaning, apply a thin layer of vegetable oil to the skillet to prevent rusting.

4. Is it safe to clean my cookware in the dishwasher?

It depends on the type of cookware you have. Stainless steel and cast iron cookware can generally be cleaned in the dishwasher, but non-stick cookware should be hand washed to avoid damage to the coating. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specific cleaning recommendations.

5. How often should I clean my cookware?

Cookware should be cleaned after each use to prevent the buildup of food particles and bacteria. If you don’t have time to clean your cookware immediately after use, make sure to soak it in warm soapy water to loosen any food particles before cleaning. Regular cleaning will help to prolong the life of your cookware and ensure that it continues to perform well over time.

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