Sound advice for washing pots & pans

The good news is that it's ok to put some cookware in the dishwasher. This goes for stainless steel and aluminum (as long as they have all-metal handles), as well as glass cookware. But to be safe, check the manufacturer's instructions first.

Sound advice for washing pots & pans

1. What NOT to put in the dishwasher

  • Cast iron and copper should not go in the dishwasher, and manufacturers of non-stick cookware often advise against putting any of those pots or pans in the dishwasher as well.
  • The environment in a dishwasher — with hot water spouts and spray rinses — is much harsher than soapy water and gentle care in the sink.
  • Besides all that, dishwasher detergents generally rely on alkaline-heavy cleaners to cut through grease, and extremely alkaline cleaners can damage cookware just as badly as acidic cleaners can.

2. Hand wash pots and pans

  • Wash pans that can't be put in the dishwasher much as you would dishes. Scrape out any food residue with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  • Fill the sink with moderately hot water and add a squirt of dishwashing liquid.
  • As soon as the pot has cooled sufficiently, slide it into the soapy water and let it sit for a minute.
  • Then gently scrub the pot with a circular motion, using a sponge, nylon-bristle dishwashing brush or a dishcloth.
  • Many non-stick surfaces — especially older ones — are easily scratched, so pay attention to the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning.
  • Clean the pot inside and out, sides and bottom. You'll know it's come clean when it's smooth to the touch.
  • Rinse in clean, hot water and dry with a dish towel.

3. To remove burned-on food

  • It can be done without working up a sweat or potentially damaging the surface of your expensive cookware — but you do need lots of patience, lots of hot water and a bit of dishwashing liquid.
  • Squirt some dishwashing liquid into the pot or pan, fill it with hot water and then leave the kitchen. Nothing removes burned-on food like a good 2-hour soak in hot, soapy water.
  • Try to avoid burning food in the same pot twice.

4. To clean greasy, burned-on gunk from the broiler pan

  • Scrape off as much as you can with a spatula.
  • Sprinkle the tray with washing soda (available from supermarkets) then pour on boiling water.
  • Let it soak for 10 minutes or so, then wash as usual.

5. Recipe to clean baked-on food

  • To clean built-up layers of baked on food on cookware that is neither aluminium nor non-stick, mix half a cup 125 ml (1/2 cup) of ammonia with 2 litres (2 quarts) of hot water in your pot and let it sit for a couple of hours.
  • Caution: Don't mix ammonia or even vinegar with household cleaners, or you'll wind up sniffing noxious fumes.
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