Stainless steel is known to be more durable than other types of cookware. Scraping and scrubbing it with various cleaning materials will not diminish its quality over time.
However, even the most experienced cooks can at times experience their worst nightmare by accidentally burning foodstuffs or grease on their pots and pans, and other cookware.
Under normal circumstances, a simple wash with hot water and dishwashing detergent may do the trick and return the stainless steel pot or pan to its original luster, but in the case of burned foods, this is not always the case.
It may not be dangerous or unhygienic to have a burnt oil stainless steel pan or food stains at the bottom of your stainless steel pots and pans, but it looks terrible and can cause other issues also.
Burnt on food or grease is ultimately dirty, and therefore can cause issues if the dirty pan touches other cookware.
In the case of burnt-on food particles, it is very unhygienic and can even attract bugs and rodents. The last thing you need is to have bugs around a cabinet full of cookware, yuck!
Let’s look at some of the ways you can remove the burnt-on foods from your stainless steel cookware.
1. The boiling method
Add water to your stainless steel pot or pan and bring to a boil for up to ten minutes.
The food should loosen off the pot or pan easily. Pour out the boiled water and scrub and scour the remaining burnt food off the pan.
If you wish, you can let the hot water stand in the pan for about half an hour before pouring out and scrubbing.
If the burnt food still won’t come off the surface, move on to the other methods below.
You can also add some dish soap to the hot water and see if that might help. The dish soap will help you remove any large food particles, but if grease is really burnt on, it probably won’t do much.
2. The baking soda and water method
This is the simplest and probably the best cleaner for stainless steel pans.
This method of cleaning burnt on foods from your stainless steel cookware uses the cheapest materials.
Fill your stainless steel pot or pan with a measure of water and then add approximately a quarter of a cup of baking soda to the pot or pan.
Heat the pot or pan until the boiling point then simmer the contents for around fifteen minutes. Thereafter let the pot or pan sit for half an hour then wash and scrub the stainless steel cookware as usual.
Depending on the severity of the burnt food, this should be sufficient. If not, on to the next method.
3. Baking soda and vinegar method
This is actually the best way to clean All-Clad Pans and pots, which are high-end cookware.
Fill the stainless steel pot or pan with a measure of water then add a cup of vinegar, preferably white vinegar.
Heat the pot or pan to a boil then remove from the heat and add two or three spoons of baking soda to the vinegar solution and let stand for about half an hour as before.
Thereafter wash and scrub the stainless steel pot or pan as usual. Generally, this method is sufficient for most stubborn burnt foods but may require repeating.
4. The Alka Seltzer method
Fill the stainless steel pot or pan with water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for a while. Now add about five Alka seltzer tablets to the hot water and let stand for a minimum of one hour.
The effervescence of the Alka seltzer should help lift the burnt foodstuffs of the pan. Then wash scrub and scour as normal that should do the trick. If not, do not despair.
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5. The hydrogen peroxide method
Mix a quantity of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda until you have a paste. The quantities will vary on the size of the pot or pan. Coat the inside of the pan with the paste, making sure to rub the paste into the more stubborn areas well.
Let the paste stand in the pot or pan for a minimum of one hour to allow the mixture to do its work.
Thereafter soak the pot or pan in warm water and then scrub and scour as normal. With any luck, this should completely remove the burnt food residue.
6. The dryer sheet method
Fill the stainless steel pot or pan with dishwashing detergent and water and bring to a boil, remove from the heat, let the pot or pan stand and then add a dryer sheet to the mix.
Leave to stand overnight and then pour out the contents and scrub and scour as normal. The burnt foods and black stains should be gone.
The Nuclear Option
This one is not officially included in our tips because we don’t usually advocate for the use of abrasive detergents and/or chemicals in the kitchen. However, sometimes the situation does call for it.
If these natural remedies don’t remedy your situation and remove the baked on grease from your stainless steel pan, then it might be time to move onto something more powerful.
Abrasive cleaning agents can be too strong for certain cookware, but in regards to stainless steel, they’re fine. Stainless steel is strong and can withstand it.
The best burnt on grease remove is Barkeeper’s Friend. Just sprinkle it generously all over the bottom of the pan. Then top it with enough boiling water to create a thick paste.
If you accidentally pour too much boiling water in then just add more powder.
Allow the Barkeeper’s Friend to sit on the surface of the grease for about 20 minutes. The alkaline properties in the powder should soak up the grease and make it easy to scrape off with a sturdy cloth or the rough side of a sponge.
Make sure you put a little bit of elbow grease in there as you scrub the pan!
Barkeeper’s Friend is pretty much a miracle worker, so your pans should be like new.
After you’ve cleaned the pan, make sure you completely dry it off before putting it away.
The Food Options!
These two options are a little out there. How is it that you can clean burnt on food, with food?
Well, both ketchup and cream of tartar are commonly used kitchen cleaners.
For ketchup, apply it to the bottom of your pan and let it sit for about 10 minutes. After that time, scrub it with a non-scratch sponge and the grease stains should come right off.
Not only that, but it will make your stainless steel pans nice and shiny! Apparently, the acid in the tomato is what actually cleans the pots and pans.
For cream of tartar, create a paste of it using three parts cream of tartar and one part water. Apply the paste to sections of the pan and let it sit for around 10 minutes. Then scrub it off with a moist cloth or moist sponge.
Nothing is worse than having expensive stainless steel pans gunked up with burnt foodstuffs and stains.
The methods above have been used for years by cooks and housewives and in many cases are very successful in removing dirt and grime.
However, it must be noted that these methods may not work the first time, every time and may have to be repeated depending on the severity of the burnt foodstuffs in the pot or pan.
If one cleaning method does not work, try another until you find the one that works for your particular issue.