Clean Cookware: Cast Iron, Nonstick, and Stainless Steel

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 27, 2022

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Cooking is enjoyable, but cleaning up can be a hassle, especially when it comes to cookware.

In this article, I will guide you through the best cleaning methods for various types of cookware, including nonstick pans and cast iron. Additionally, I’ll provide tips to help you maintain the appearance of your cookware. Let’s begin with the simplest cleaning methods and progress to more advanced techniques.

Clean cookware

How to Banish Fat from Your Cookware

We all love a good fried chicken or a crispy bacon, but the aftermath of cooking with fat can be a nightmare. The grease and oil can stick to your cookware and create a stubborn layer that seems impossible to remove. If left unattended, it can build up and ruin your pans, making them unusable. But fear not, with a few tips and tricks, you can clean your cookware and make them look brand new again.

The Process

Here’s how to clean fat from your cookware:

1. Scrape off any excess fat with a spatula or a paper towel. Be careful not to scratch the surface of your pans.
2. Fill the pan with hot water and add a tablespoon of baking soda. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
3. Drain the water and sprinkle some more baking soda on the affected area.
4. Pour some vinegar over the baking soda and let it fizz for a few minutes.
5. Use a non-abrasive sponge or a brush to scrub the pan gently. Don’t use steel wool or anything that can scratch the surface.
6. Rinse the pan with hot water and dry it with a clean towel.

Tips and Tricks

  • If the fat is burnt onto the pan, you can add a tablespoon of salt to the baking soda mixture to make it more abrasive.
  • For stubborn stains, you can try boiling water in the pan and adding a few drops of dish soap. Let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing.
  • If you have a non-stick pan, avoid using baking soda and vinegar as it can damage the coating. Instead, use a mild dish soap and warm water.
  • To prevent fat buildup, wipe your pans with a paper towel or a cloth after each use.

Now that you know how to banish fat from your cookware, you can enjoy your favorite fried foods without worrying about the aftermath. Happy cooking!

Mastering the Art of Cookware Cleaning

Water is an essential element in cooking and cleaning, but it can also be the culprit behind stubborn stains and buildup on your cookware. Hard water, which is high in calcium and other minerals, can leave behind unsightly deposits that are difficult to remove. To combat this, try using distilled water or adding a small amount of vinegar to your cleaning solution to break down the buildup.

Techniques for Cleaning Stubborn Stains

No matter how careful you are, some stains are just too stubborn to come off with regular cleaning methods. Here are some techniques to try:

  • Baking soda: Mix baking soda with water to create a paste and apply it to the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a non-abrasive sponge.
  • Lemon juice: Squeeze some fresh lemon juice onto the stain and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a sponge.
  • Salt: Sprinkle salt onto the stain and add a small amount of water to create a paste. Let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a sponge.

Detailed Cleaning Guidelines for Different Cookware Materials

Different types of cookware require different cleaning methods to keep them in top shape. Here are some detailed guidelines for cleaning different materials:

  • Copper: Use a mixture of salt and vinegar to create a paste and apply it to the copper. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing with water and drying with a soft cloth.
  • Aluminum: Avoid using abrasive cleaners on aluminum as they can scratch the surface. Instead, use a non-abrasive sponge and a mild dish soap to clean.
  • Ceramic: Soak ceramic cookware in warm, soapy water for a few minutes before scrubbing with a non-abrasive sponge. Avoid using metal utensils on ceramic as they can scratch the surface.
  • Glass: Use a non-abrasive sponge and a mild dish soap to clean glass cookware. Avoid sudden temperature changes as this can cause the glass to crack.

By following these guidelines and using the right cleaning techniques, you can keep your cookware in top shape and make it last longer.

How to Keep Your Cast Iron Cookware in Top Shape

Washing your cast iron cookware may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite simple. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  • Wash your cast iron cookware by hand using warm, soapy water. Contrary to popular belief, it’s okay to use a small amount of soap. Just make sure to rinse the pan thoroughly to remove any soap residue.
  • If there are any stuck-on bits of food, use a scraper to remove them. You can also try simmering a little water in the pan for 3-5 minutes to loosen any stubborn bits before using the scraper.
  • Dry the pan thoroughly with a clean dish towel or paper towel. Make sure to remove all the water to prevent rust from forming.
  • Rub a little oil or fat onto the pan to prevent it from rusting. You can use vegetable oil, canola oil, or even bacon fat. Just make sure to use a small amount and rub it in lightly with a paper towel.

Seasoning Your Cast Iron

Seasoning your cast iron cookware is an important step in keeping it in top shape. Here’s how to do it:

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  • Grab a small amount of oil or fat and rub it onto the pan, making sure to cover the entire surface.
  • Put the pan in the oven and let it bake for 1 hour.
  • After 1 hour, turn off the heat and let the pan cool in the oven.
  • Repeat this process a couple of times to build up a good seasoning on your pan.

Keeping Your Nonstick Pans Clean and Shiny

Cleaning nonstick pans requires a different method than cleaning other types of cookware. Here are some key points to keep in mind when cleaning nonstick pans:

  • Always use warm, soapy water and a soft sponge or cloth to clean the surface of the pan.
  • Avoid using heavy-duty scrubbers or abrasive materials that can damage the nonstick surface.
  • Never use metal utensils on the nonstick surface, as they can cause scratches and damage the nonstick coating.
  • If you have burnt food or residue on the surface of the pan, soak it in warm, soapy water for a few hours before scrubbing it gently.

Quick and Easy Cleaning Methods

If you’re in a hurry and need to clean your nonstick pan quickly, here are some easy methods to try:

  • Mix baking soda and warm water to create a paste, then apply it to the surface of the pan and scrub gently with a soft sponge or cloth.
  • Pour a small amount of white vinegar onto the surface of the pan and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it clean with a damp cloth.
  • Add a few drops of dish soap to warm water and mix well, then use a sponge or cloth to scrub the surface of the pan.

Preventing Sticky Residue and Food Buildup

To prevent sticky residue and food buildup on your nonstick pans, follow these tips:

  • Use a small amount of oil or cooking spray when cooking to prevent food from sticking to the surface of the pan.
  • Stir food frequently while cooking to prevent it from sticking to the surface of the pan.
  • Allow the pan to cool before washing it to prevent warping or damage to the nonstick coating.
  • Dry the pan thoroughly after washing to prevent water spots and rust from forming.

Proper Maintenance for Long-Lasting Quality

Proper maintenance is essential for keeping your nonstick pans in good condition and saving you significant money in the long run. Here are some notes to keep in mind:

  • Avoid using metal utensils on the nonstick surface, as they can cause scratches and damage the nonstick coating.
  • Repeated exposure to high heat can cause the nonstick coating to break down over time, so it’s best to use low to medium heat when cooking with nonstick pans.
  • Never put nonstick pans in the dishwasher, as the high heat and harsh detergents can damage the nonstick coating.
  • Store nonstick pans carefully, either by hanging them or stacking them with a soft cloth or paper towel between the parts to prevent scratches and damage to the nonstick coating.

Mastering the Art of Cleaning Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel is a popular choice for cookware due to its durability and sleek appearance. However, cleaning it can be a bit difficult, especially when it comes to removing tough bits of food and sauce. The key to proper stainless steel cleaning is to follow a routine that is gentle yet effective. Here are some techniques to help you get started:

  • Start by scraping away any excess food bits with a plastic or wooden dish scraper.
  • Add a little bit of water to the dish and cover it with a lid or aluminum foil.
  • Bring the water to a boil and add a hearty pour of baking soda (about ¼ cup or ½ cup).
  • Carefully place your pan in the water and reduce the heat to a gentle boil.
  • Let the pan cook for about 15 to 30 minutes, flipping or rotating it if necessary, so that all the sides are boiled.
  • You should start to see brown residue flaking off.
  • Allow the mixture to cool and then pour it away.

Choosing the Best Cleaning Products for Stainless Steel

When it comes to cleaning stainless steel, it’s important to choose the right products to avoid damaging the surface. Here are some common cleaning products that work well:

  • White vinegar: This is a powerful cleaning agent that can remove tough stains and grease.
  • Baking soda: This is a gentle abrasive that can help remove stubborn food bits.
  • Dish soap: This is a simple way to clean your stainless steel cookware on a daily basis.
  • Stainless steel cleaner: This is a specially designed product that is formulated to clean and polish stainless steel cookware.

Using Proper Techniques to Clean Stainless Steel

Cleaning stainless steel requires specific techniques to ensure that the surface is evenly cleaned without causing damage. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Always clean with the grain of the stainless steel to avoid scratching the surface.
  • Use a soft cloth or sponge to gently clean the surface.
  • Avoid using abrasive cleaners or wire brushes that can scratch the surface.
  • Dry the cookware completely after cleaning to prevent water spots and rust.
  • Polish the cookware with a mixture of white vinegar and water to give it a shiny finish.


So, there you have it- all the tips and tricks you need to clean your cookware and make it look brand new again. 

Now you can banish fat cookware, enjoy your favorite fried foods, and be confident that your pans are clean and ready to use again. So, don’t be afraid to get cleaning!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.