How to Get Stubborn Cookware Stains Out of Pots and Pans     – CNET

How to Get Stubborn Cookware Stains Out of Pots and Pans – CNET

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Despite the name, a stainless steel skillet may pick up some stains over the course of its life that appear impossible to remove. Even if you clean your frying pan after each use and dry it thoroughly, there’s no guarantee that it won’t oxidize, creating a rainbow-hued discoloration that can make a pan look dirty — even when it’s not. 

There are an awful lot of opinions out there when it comes to cleaning pots and pans, and no shortage of specialty products and harsh cleaners designed to lift those deep skillet stains. But two pantry staples are all you need to clean even the dingiest pans. Having tried a series of home remedies for cloudy skillets and tie-dyed fry pans, one method reigns supreme. And now the good news: It’s easy, takes about seven minutes to complete and requires inexpensive ingredients you likely already have on hand. 

This method is best for cleaning pans with baked-in water and heat stains. For pans that have scorch marks or caked-on food, you might try using a pan scraper or dryer sheet (That’s right: A dryer sheet.) And if you’re working with a cast-iron skillet you’ll want to use this other trick to get it clean.

The goal is to get those dingy stainless-steel pots and pans bright and shiny again so you can be proud to hang them above the stove. Below is the best way to clean stainless steel cookware.

What you’ll need to clean your stainless steel frying pan

baking soda white vinegar and scrub brush on counter

Here’s everything you need to get that stainless steel cookware shining like new. 

David Watsky/CNET

How to get stubborn stains out of stainless-steel cookware

Step 1: Sprinkle the stained pot or pan with one tablespoon of baking soda.

Step 2: Fill the pot or pan with one part vinegar and two parts tap water. It will cause a little temporary fizzing and foaming, so be sure to add the liquid carefully. 

Step 3: Boil the pan or pot on high heat for about five minutes — or longer, if the stains are particularly heavy. Cover the pan so the boiling solution can reach the top of the sides without spilling over onto the stovetop.

skillet with boiling water on stove

Get the vinegar and baking soda solution to a rolling boil. Covering the pot or pan will allow the mixture to treat all the way up the sides without spilling over. 

David Watsky/CNET

Step 4: Remove the pot or pan from the heat and drain most of the hot liquid carefully leaving only a few ounces. Let it cool. 

Step 5: Scrub the remaining stains vigorously using the special nonmetal scrubber and remaining liquid until they lift.

Step 6: Dry the cookware thoroughly before putting it away. 


clean frying pan on stove

Just a few minutes and your dingy pan will look like it did when it came out of the box. 

David Watsky/CNET

More cleaning hacks for you to try

David Watsky

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