As all chefs know, along with every great meal comes the mundane task of clean-up. To make matters worse, a menu that could have been days in the making, from developing a shopping list, to purchasing the goods, along with the hours spent preparing the feast, often requires an extensive kitchen clean-up. Cooks, professional and amateur alike, know that the best way to protect their cooking wares is through proper care and handling. From pots and pans, to silverware and related accessories, stainless steel is a versatile material frequently regarded as a kitchen workhorse. Given the prevalence and popularity of stainless steel, owners should be well versed in caring for their tools to preserve and extend longevity.

Best practices:

In cleaning a dirty pot, a common misconception is that a long soak will expedite the washing process. Unfortunately, as stainless steel is covered by chromium, prolonged exposure to water wears away at the protective layer leaving rust spots in its wake. As such, pots should be washed as soon after use as possible to prevent overexposure to water and harmful elements. Immediately drying the pot, with a soft cloth, helps avoid unnecessary water contact. The use of steel wool in the cleaning process should be avoided as it can lead to surface rust.

Common Cleaning Methods:

The level of pan dirtiness should dictate the chosen method of cleaning. A gently soiled pot would best be cleaned using a soft cloth and a gentle dish detergent. When possible, citrus based soap should be avoided, given its acidic nature. For tougher stains or caked on food, try adding boiling water to the pot, and allowing it to sit for 15 minutes. After dumping the cooled water, wash with warm soapy water and a nylon kitchen brush or stainless steel scouring pad followed by a thorough drying. Should the mess persist, a second round of boiled water, this time including dish detergent may be in order. The water should be allowed to cool before attempting a further scrub of the pot with elbow grease. There are some commercially available products specifically designed to facilitate stainless steel pot cleaning, and can be found at grocery stores and general ware retailers nationally. Instructions should be closely followed to protect your pots.

Ongoing maintenance

If your pots are used frequently, try a mixture of white vinegar in water (1/4 ratio of vinegar to water) applied by cloth to remove lingering stains. An occasional application of a paste of baking soda and water will help maintain the condition of your stainless steel pots. Should fingerprints linger after any of these cleanings, a small spray of glass cleaner and brief wipe down should return the pot to a near new appearance.

Armed with a series of best practices, common cleaning methods and preventative upkeep, one may quickly find the dreaded labor intensive process of pot cleaning a thing of the past. Both home and commercially available treatments are popular in the quest to easily clean pots and ensure a long lifetime of use.

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