Tips to clean and care for pots and pans

June 30, 2015

Keeping pots and pans clean can be a big job if you love to cook but there are some simple ways to keep your cookware gleaming.

Tips to clean and care for pots and pans

Get rid of the burn

If burned food won't come off a pot, fill the pot with water and add a squirt of dishwashing liquid and 15 milligrams (one tablespoon) of salt. Bring the water to a boil and then turn off the heat. After about 15 minutes, discard the mixture and use a plastic scraper or scrubber to remove the loosened gunk.

Aluminum lustre

When aluminum pots and pans become discoloured after extended use, revive the lustre with either cream of tartar or vinegar and then wash and dry as usual.

  • Cream of tartar: Fill the pan with hot water and add cream of tartar (15 milligrams or two tablespoons of powder to one litre or approximately one quart of water). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Vinegar: Combine equal parts white vinegar and water in the pan and simmer for 10–12 minutes.

Note: Avoid using alkaline cleaners like baking soda and bleach on aluminum, which may discolour it even more.

Stainless steel shine

Fingerprints all over your nice, sparkling new stainless cookware? Dampen it with lukewarm water, apply a spot of low-abrasion toothpaste and brush away those unsightly marks. Rinse, dry and you'll have shiny cookware again.

Copper glow

To keep copper cookware looking gorgeous, try this out-of-the-ordinary cleanser: Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and 45 milligrams (three tablespoons) of salt. Shake until the salt dissolves and give the copper a good spray. Let the pots sit for 10–12 minutes and then scrub them clean.

Cast iron care

Cast iron is great for cooking but can be intimidating to use because the cleaning instructions are so specific. This is an easy reference for taking care of your cast iron pans.

  • Both coarse salt and borax (sodium borate) are more cast iron–friendly than dishwashing detergents, so use either to get burned food off a treasured pan that may have been passed down from your grandmother. Just sprinkle the crystals into the pan and scrub with a wet sponge or paper towel. Then rinse with fresh cold water and dry immediately (cast iron is quick to rust).
  • Rub vegetable oil on the inside of a cast iron skillet to keep it seasoned — and do it after each wash and any other time you please.
  • Don't soak. Soaking a cast iron skillet in soapy water can deplete the fat that seeps into the porous surface and seasons the skillet — and an unseasoned skillet is a recipe for frustration. You'll be contending with food that sticks and burns and seems almost impossible to clean off.

These simple tips will keep your pots and pans looking great and functioning at their very best.

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