By Kacey Bradley:
Stainless steel cookware probably is one of the most versatile tools that you can have in your kitchen. When properly cared for, it will provide even heat and a nice nonstick surface for your cooking for years to come. It’s easy to assume that, just because these pans are steel, you can do whatever you want with them; but they do require some special care to ensure that they last and keep their finish. Here are some of the most common stainless steel cookware mistakes and how to avoid them.
- Oil in a Cold Pan
If you’re deep frying, it’s pretty common practice to pour your oil into a cold pan, and let the oil and pan heat up together. You don’t want to do that with a stainless-steel pan, though. Metal expands as it heats up, and this rule also applies to your stainless steel cookware. Letting the pan heat before you add the oil gives you a better non-stick surfaceto cook on, and prevents the oil from getting burned on to the steel surface.
If you’re planning to do some deep frying, cast iron or enameled iron pans are your best option.
- Scrub with the Grain
If you look closely at your stainless steel pans, you’ll see that there is a grained pattern in the metal. This is caused by tiny lines in the metal when it was forged, and it gives each pan a unique look, almost like a fingerprint. It also will affect the way you clean your pans. Scrubbing with the grain — parallel with the lines in the metal — will get your pans cleaner and help them last longer. Don’t scrub across or “against” the grain when you’re washing your pans.
- Don’t Use Bleach
As of 2016, the majority of homeowners choose stainless steel appliancesrather than ones with traditional facades. They look great, but without proper care they can start to look dull quickly. If you use bleach or products that contain bleach to clean your home, keep them away from your stainless steel appliances and cookware. Bleach can stain and damage your stainless steel surfaces. Stick to non-chlorine-based cleansers — you can clean even stainless steel facades and cookware with vinegar if you prefer a greener option.
- Say No to Steel Wool
It’s tempting to grab the steel wool when you’re cleaning your stainless steel pans, especially if you’re dealing with baked on messes. Don’t use steel wool or steel brushes on your stainless steel pans. They can damage the finish and leave behind little pieces that can pit or damage the surface of your pans. Stick with sponges, plastic scrubbies or a soft cloth, depending on how much elbow grease your pan needs in order to be cleaned.
- Dry After Washing
Spots or streaks don’t look good on your pans, but your cleaner may not be at fault for these unsightly marks. Hard water can leave spots on your stainless steel if allowed to dry on the pans. To prevent these spots from showing up, make sure you dry your pans with a soft cloth instead of leaving them to drip-dry in the dish drainer.
Hard water marks might not be a problem, but they simply don’t look good. Drying your pans after you wash them is a quick and easy step to avoid those blots.
- Skip the Abrasive Cleaners
Abrasive cleaners like Comet and Ajax might seem like the best way to get stuck on food or other stains off your stainless steel pans, but they should be avoided. The abrasives in the cleansers can scratch and pitthe surface of your pans, leaving them open to rust and other damage. It’s also not recommended to use these cleaners on surfaces that come into contact with food, so they’ll work well for greasy stains on your stove top, but you should skip them for cleaning your pans.
A well maintained stainless steel pan or pot will serve you well for decades. Most of these mistakes are easy to avoid with a little bit of forethought. Stick with dish soap or vinegar for cleaning your pans, dry them once they’re clean, and don’t oil a cold pan. Your stainless steel will last for years to come.
Kacey Bradley is the lifestyle and travel blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing for her blog, she has written for sites like U.S. News, SUCCESS, Tripping.com and more!