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Hate Doing Dishes? Get Your Pots and Pans Clean with these 4 Easy Tips

Posted by Sean on Apr 21, 2016

Cooking allows you to experiment, use your hands, and create an amazing finished product. Sharing that food with your friends and loved ones is even better. But as fun as cooking a dish and sharing it can be, there’s one major downside to cooking: the cleanup. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve decided not to cook just because I didn’t want to do dishes! In fact, a lot of our students tell us that doing the dishes is a major obstacle to cooking at home.

So to make your life easier, I’m going to share with you a few tips and tricks we use at here at The Chopping Block to help keep our kitchens and tools clean and tidy.

pans hanging

First up is how to clean stainless steel and copper pans. Stainless steel or copper pots and pans look sharp, and they’re a great investment for any home cook. However, they can be tricky to clean: water spots, scorch marks and tarnish can start to show up on your cookware after just a few weeks of use. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to remove even the most stubborn marks from your pots and pans.

Here's how to clean your pots and pans:

1. Soak your pans. This tip may seem obvious, especially if you’ve been cooking for a while. Still, soaking your pots and pans in hot, soapy water is the easiest way to save time and energy. Soak pans with any thick or burnt-on residue, and give the residue some time to soften up. By the time you are ready to scrub your pan, the food debris will come away much more easily. Soak them as long as you like, from 15 minutes all the way up to a few hours.

2. Scrub your pans while they’re hot. Chicago kitchens (and sinks) can often be pretty small, so if you don’t have the space to soak a few pans for an hour, don’t worry. You can take a different approach to removing food residue: scrub your pans while they’re hot. As pans heat up, microscopic imperfections on the surface of the steel shift around and change in size. That means, as you let a pan cool down, some of the food debris you leave behind can get trapped between those imperfections, making it a lot harder to remove. Scrubbing your pan while it’s still hot can help you get a lot of food off before this happens. Of course, you’ll need to be very careful while handling the still-hot pan. Wear oven mitts or use potholders to grip any hot surfaces, then scrub with a sponge or steel wool.

3. Use Steel Glow to polish your pans. Steel Glow is an amazing cleaning product for copper and stainless steel pans. I’ve washed many pans at The Chopping Block with Steel Glow, and they come out of the process looking close to brand new.

steel glo

To use it, scrub off any large food debris and rinse. Next, add a dash of Steel Glow powder to the inside of the pan, then scrub with a normal sponge. You may have to scrub hard, but you’ll be able to get off the majority of scorch marks and tarnish. Do the same to the outside for a more dramatic effect, especially with copper pots. With enough elbow grease and some Steel Glow, you can return your pot to an almost-brand-new state, removing built up black residue and discolorations. We carry Steel Glow on the retail floors of both of our locations, so pick up a bottle if you’ve got some pans that need attention!

Here’s a before and after shot of what five minutes of work gets you. With a little scrubbing on this stainless steel All-Clad pan, I removed all of the brown residue, a lot of the black build up, and gave the steel a nice sheen.

all clad before & after

4. Dry your pans right away. Stainless steel loves to develop water spots. Water spots are mineral deposits left behind when a water drop evaporates. The frequency and visibility of water spots will depend a lot on how hard the water is in your home, and if you have Chicago city water like we do, you’ll notice them fairly often. To prevent water spots, simply dry off the pans with a clean towel before the water has time to evaporate. Easy!

In this picture, you can see exactly where the water spots and streaks would have formed if I hadn’t dried the pan.

all clad wash

These techniques can help you can keep your set of pots and pans looking new for years. Soaking or scrubbing your pans while they’re hot can cut down on cleaning time significantly, which means more time for the fun stuff: cooking and eating!

I’ll be back in a few weeks with more tips and tricks for cleaning and staying organized in the kitchen. What are your favorite tips for cleaning pans? Let me know your tricks in the comments, and stop by our stores to pick up some Steel Glo to make your clean up easier.

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Topics: copper, stainless steel, clean, clean up, dishes

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