In a busy kitchen, pots and pans get plenty of use. But how do you take care of them to keep them looking beautiful – and performing at their best? It just takes a little bit of know-how (and learning what works for each type of cookware). So check out these tips from our resident kitchen guru, Zach, to keep your pots and pans looking just like new.
Knowing how to take care of your pots and pans will keep them looking great – and lasting longer. You just need to know what each different material needs (and what it doesn’t). So try these simple tips and tricks for non-stick, cast iron, stainless steel, copper, and enamel – and you can make them last for many years to come!
These are probably the most popular type of pots and pans on the market right now due to how easy they are to use. The problem is there’s plenty of things that can damage the nonstick coating.
Rule #1 is to never use metal utensils with a nonstick pan. Doing so will scratch the coating and expose the metal underneath. What’s the point of having nonstick if you scrape off the coating that keeps things from sticking? You want to use wood or silicone utensils anytime you’re cooking with a nonstick pan. That also means not using steel wool to clean it.
When cleaning a nonstick pan you want to use hot soapy water and then dry it well. You should NEVER put it in the dishwasher. The high heat and water combo will wear away at the nonstick coating and shorten its lifespan by a lot. Seasoning your pan after drying can also help extend its life. Put a few drops of oil in the pan and then use a dry paper towel to spread it around.
You also want to be careful when storing it. Don’t stack it under any heavy cast iron or steel pans because they can scratch the surface of your nonstick pan.
These pans are great conductors, making them perfect for high heat cooking. They’re also naturally nonstick. The problem is they can be tougher to take care of. Metal utensils are fine on cast iron since there’s no coating to worry about, but cleaning it is where you have to be more specific.
When washing a cast iron pan you want to use salt and a paper towel or sponge. The coarse salt will help get off any food or grime in the pan. You can use water to clean it, but you want to dry it immediately after. Letting any moisture sit on the pan, even for just a few hours, can lead to rust. That also means you don’t want to put these in a dishwasher. Steel wool is also a no-go as it’s too abrasive.
You also want to “season” the pan after every use. Just like with the nonstick you want to rub a little bit of oil into the pan. Then put it on the stove at medium-low heat for a few minutes to help the oil seep in. This will keep it from rusting and extend the life of the pan so that you’ll be passing it down from generation to generation.
Like cast iron, metal tools on stainless steel are totally fine. You can also put these in the dishwasher, making cleaning a whole lot easier! If you are cleaning it by hand then us a non abrasive brush or sponge and hot soapy water. You still want to make sure it’s completely dry before putting it away, especially if you store it near nonstick or cast iron.
You’ll also want to shine your stainless steel every once in a while to keep it looking great, especially if you’re a fan of open shelving or hanging your pots and pans. A polish like Bar Keeper’s Friend is perfect for bringing out that shine.
Copper is a great conductor for high heat, but it’s also very reactive to chemicals. Dishwasher detergent will discolor and ruin your copper pots and pans so avoid that. Hand washing is best, just a little soap and water is all you need. After cleaning you’ll want to use a little polish like Bar Keeper’s Friend that we mentioned above.
Another trick for polishing your copper cookware is to mix lemon juice or vinegar with a little baking soda. Rub in all over the surface of the cookware to fix discoloration and then rinse and dry well. You can also use salt instead of baking soda, but some experts warn that it might be too abrasive.
Everyone who owns enamel cookware loves to show it off. So making sure it always looks its best is key. While enamel can technically be put in the dishwasher (Le Creuset even says so on their website), I still don’t reccomend it. The reason is that it’s more susceptible to chipping that way. I like to hand wash it just to be safe. Warm water and dish soap will do the job perfectly well.
A Few More Tips…
We’ve all been there, you’re cooking something and get distracted only to come back to burnt food stuck to your pan. The first step to getting those burnt bits off is to not waste any time. Get off what you can and then let your pan cool and immediately wash it. You should be able to get most of it off if you put a little strength into it.
If you still can’t get all those burnt bits off then sprinkle some baking soda into it and then pour on some vinegar. Then grab a sponge and get to work!