If you're curious about getting your cookware looking like new and sparkling to the point of looking almost new, see our How-To below and bust out the gloves and sunglasses. Things are about to get real bright.
Probably the most frequently asked questions are in the mysteries around cleaning well-loved cast iron. To scrub or not to scrub? Should you clean with dish soap? Water only? Clean and reseason
How: Avoid using harsh detergents, soap, or steel wool, since these may strip the pan's seasoning, which you have worked long and hard to layer on. Scrub off stuck-on bits by using a soft nylon dish brush, wood kitchen tool or a chain mail scrubber. If food is really stuck on, scrub the pan with a paste of coarse kosher salt and warm water. Then rinse or wipe with a paper towel. Stubborn food residue can also be loosened by boiling water in the pan first, then scrub, rinse with warm water and dry with a paper towel making sure all the water is removed from the pan before storing.
Tips: Heating the pan after it has been cleaned, on the stovetop, is great for removing all moisture from the pan. This is important if you need to season your pan or are storing it. Excess water can leave rust-colored spots on the surface, particularly if the pan is new or has only a light seasoning on it.
Seasoning cast iron: While your clean pan is warm (warm it by placing in a warm oven or on a low burner), apply a thin coating of canola oil to the interior and exterior by wiping it all over with a paper towel. Return to the oven (350 degrees) or the burner (low heat) until the light oil is absorbed into the patina. Place the pan in the oven for an hour, upside down to prevent oil from pooling. Turn the oven off and let the pan cool as the oven cools. Remove and wipe all over with a lint-free towel or paper towel and store.
Seasoning not only gives your cookware that classic black patina, it also forms a natural, easy-release cooking surface and helps prevent your pan from rusting. It may take a little extra care, but a well-seasoned cast iron pan will last for generations.
Copper cookware is not only a dream to cook with, it is also truly a thing of beauty. Rooted in traditional French cooking and manufacturing, it can be a bit fussy to maintain (yup) or not. Depends on your personal style and preference.
How: Inside is easily cleanable with warm soapy water and a non-abrasive scrubber, nylon brush or sponge. If food is stuck on hard, warm the pan over low heat on the stove and use a nonabrasive tool. A wood spatula works great to remove the stuck bits. Rinse and dry with a soft absorbent towel.
The exterior is where you can decide which way you want your copper to look.
If a shiny surface is your desire, use a nonabrasive scrubbing agent to return your copper to its original shine. We like the creams sold by the copper manufacturers or Bar Keepers Friend.
Either is easy to use by wiping on with a lint-free cloth, rinsing in warm water and drying with an absorbent clean towel to avoid leaving water streaks.
If you prefer the natural patina of copper, simply wash with warm soapy water and dry immediately with a clean absorbent towel. The copper will turn dark and dull over time — also a good look in a well-loved kitchen.
Stainless steel is the workhorse of most kitchens and comes in a variety of finishes. All can be cleaned using the same methods, although brushed stainless steel exteriors can require a bit more elbow grease, since it is more susceptible to drips adhering to the porous texture.
How: Use warm soapy water and nonabrasive cleaners for the cooked-on grime. We love Bar Keepers Friend for most of our heavy lifting. It cleans without abrasion and is so incredibly easy to use. Sprinkle on a wet sponge and scrub away. Rinse with warm water and dry with a soft absorbent towel to avoid leaving water streaks. We also like the Liquid Bar Keepers Friendfor even easier application.
For super stuck-on food bits, warm water in the pan and gently scrub with a soft or wood kitchen tool, while the pan is on the stove until the stuck-on residue is loose, and complete the cleaning as above.
Stainless steel can also last a lifetime when it’s carefully maintained.
Find more tips, tricks and recipes here.