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How To Clean The Outside Of Pots And Pans: A Step-By-Step Guide

Taking the time to properly clean your pots and pans is well worth the effort. When you spend money on a set of cookware, you want it to stand the test of time.

Most people clean the inside and forget about the outside, but have you ever thought about how to clean the outside of pots and pans?

Washing your cookware in a sink full of hot, soapy water is a great start, but sometimes that isn’t enough to remove any burnt-on stains or hard-water deposits.

Depending on the type of cookware you have, here are some great tips on how to make the outside of your pots and pans shine once again.


Products to avoid using on your aluminum pans:

  • Ammonia can make spots worse and create dents on the surface
  • Strong alkali, a corrosive substance that can cause discoloration
  • Chlorine bleach will corrode the aluminum material and will cause discoloration

Aluminum scratches easily; the detergents used in dishwashers are unforgiving, so hand wash your cookware. To remove stains, soak your pan in hot water then gently rub away the burnt food.

To restore discoloration and remove any remaining stubborn stains, cut a lemon in half and cover with salt as you rub the outside of the cookware. Rinse off the salt and then wash and dry as usual.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel Pans And Pots

This material is sturdier and can handle the rougher side of a sponge. Coat any stains on the bottom of the pan with some baking soda and scrub it fiercely with a non-abrasive pad. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Similar to baking soda is a product called Barkeepers FriendOpens in a new tab. (link to Amazon). It is non-abrasive and contains no bleach. It can be found at many hardware stores, or even ordered online and can also remove stains.

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Pots And Pans Made From Copper

In your sink, with the pot turned upside-down, pour salt over the bottom of the pan. Drizzle vinegar, or lemon juice, on top of the salt. Let it sit for about 15 seconds, then with the rough side of a two-sided sponge, proceed to give it a good scrub all over.

You can add some extra vinegar directly into the sponge and keep scrubbing until all the stains are gone. After, give the pot a good rinse underwater and make sure to properly dry it off.

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Cast Iron

Cast iron pans require special treatment; they are less about cleaning with soap and water and more about maintaining. Although burnt-on stains and water residue are less of an issue with this type of cookware, rust is a big problem that can ruin a pan.

If you find that you made the mistake of washing your cast iron cookware and see that it is now covered in rust, you can still save it.

Pour half a cup of coarse salt into your pan. Cut a potato in half and rub the open side of the potato with the salt over every visible inch.

Place the pan on medium heat on your stove for ten minutes to remove any lingering moisture. In order to season it for use, rub cooking oil over every inch of it. Bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour and let it cool.

Try any of these tricks to remove even the toughest stains and residue from the outside of your pots and pans. Keep them looking their best and help maintain their longevity in your kitchen.

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