Sound advice for washing pots & pans

July 28, 2015

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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