The first step to a clean stainless steel pan is to keep the pan out of the dishwasher. Even on a gentle cleaning cycle, most dishwashers clean at a level that is too harsh for the finish of a stainless steel pan. You can keep the surface of your pan looking brand new by washing it in warm water with a mild cleaning soap. A lot of the new organic and mild cleaning products are a good to use on any cookware with a stainless steel finish. A scratch free sponge or cleaning cloth should be used as well. Never clean a stainless steel pan with steel wool, this will cause the surface to become scratched. Over time, the scratches can cause the surface to flake and small particles of the pan’s finish may make it into your food.
Obviously, the more quickly a pan is cleaned after use the easier it will be to remove any food or stains from the pan. Stains rinse more readily off of a pan that is still hot when rinsed with warm water. Be especially cautious of any type of acidic food sitting in your pan for an extended amount of time before cleaning. Lemon juice and vinegar are two examples of acids that can corrode the surface of your pan. However, we all have times where we just do not want to deal with dirty dishes. If you have waited too long and have stains that cannot be removed with soap and water try a product called Bar Keepers Friend. This is an inexpensive cleaner designed to work on stainless steel. This product is available at many grocery stores and superstores that sell cleaning products.
If you want to avoid purchasing an additional cleaning product you can also try pouring boiling water into the pan. Leave the boiling water to sit in the pan for twenty minutes. After twenty minutes pour out the water, in many cases this will remove any stains due to burned food and loosen up food that has hardened in the pan. As many grandmothers may advise, you probably already have all the ingredients you need at home to create home-made but effective cleansers. For example, combining water with baking soda makes an excellent paste that can be coated onto your pan. Apply the paste with a soft cloth and rub it in. Rinsing the past off thoroughly and then drying it with a lint-free cloth will polish your pan. Mixing one part white vinegar to three parts water can remove many stains from a stainless steel pan. Besides being low-cost, the benefit of home-made cleansers is that they contain fewer chemicals and are not harmful to breathe in unlike commercial cleansers containing many chemicals.
A common complaint about stainless steel cookware is the fingerprints that are usually visible on the outside finish, even if the pan is clean. A tip to quickly remove these is to use an ammonia-free glass cleaner on the outside of the pan. Apply the glass cleaner with a soft, lint-free cloth and rub the surface until the excess glass cleaner has been absorbed. It is tempting to use a silver cleaner on stainless steel cookware since silver is another material that often has issues with fingerprints. Silver cleaners are not recommended because they will (ironically) leave a stain on stainless steel. Also, silver cleaners are typically expensive and would be used up quickly on a pan. Use these tips to treat your stainless steel pan well and you can expect the pan to last many years in good condition!