20 Easy Ways to Clean Pots and Pans

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Say so long to scouring those stubborn stains off your ovenproof glass cookware. Just fill the container with water, add up to six Alka-Seltzer tablets, and let it soak for an hour. The stains should easily scrub away.

Aluminum Foil
Don’t have a scrub pad? Crumple up a handful of aluminum foil and use it to scrub your pots.
Baking Soda
Looking for a more powerful dishwashing liquid? Try adding 2 tablespoons baking soda to the usual amount of liquid you use, and watch it cut through grease like a hot knife!
Club Soda
Food tastes delicious when it’s cooked in cast iron, but cleaning those heavy pots and pans with the sticky mess inside is no fun at all. You can make the cleanup a lot easier by pouring some club soda in the pan while it’s still warm. The bubbly soda will keep the mess from sticking.
Cream of Tartar
Discolored aluminum pots will sparkle again if you clean them with a mixture of 2 tablespoons cream of tartar dissolved into 1 quart (1 liter) water. Bring the mixture to a boil inside the pot and boil for 10 minutes.
Denture Tablets
Stains on enamel cookware are a natural for the denture tablet cleaning solution. Fill the pot or pan with warm water and drop in a tablet or two, depending on its size. Wait a bit — once the fizzing has stopped, your cookware will be clean.
Fabric Softener
Forget scrubbing. Instead, soak burned-on foods from casseroles with liquid fabric softener. Fill the casserole with water, add a squirt of liquid fabric softener, and soak for an hour, or until residue wipes easily away.
Your favorite pot has been left on the stove too long, and now you’ve got a burned-on mess to clean up. Place the pot in the freezer for a couple of hours. When the burned food becomes frozen, it will be easier to remove.
When copper pots and pans — or decorative molds — get dull and tarnished, brighten them with ketchup. It’s cheaper than commercial tarnish removers and safe to apply without gloves. Coat the copper surface with a thin layer of the condiment. Let it sit for five to thirty minutes. Acids in the ketchup will react with the tarnish and remove it. Rinse the pan and dry immediately.
Make those dull pots and pans sparkle, inside and out. Just rub the cut side of half a lemon all over them and buff with a soft cloth.
Oven Cleaner
You’ve tried everything to scrub those baked-on stains off your Pyrex or CorningWare cookware. Now try this: Put on rubber gloves and cover the cookware with oven cleaner. Then place the cookware in a heavy-duty garbage bag, close it tightly with twist ties, and leave overnight. Open the bag outdoors, keeping your face away from the dangerous fumes. Use rubber gloves to remove and wash the cookware.
Clean those stains off your nonstick cookware by making a do-it-yourself scrub pad. Crumple up a pair of clean old pantyhose, moisten it with a bit of warm water, add a couple of drops of liquid dishwashing detergent, and you’re good to go. You can also make terrific scrubbers for dishes — as well as walls and other nonporous surfaces — by cutting off the foot or toe section, fitting it over a sponge, and knotting off the end.
Plastic Lids
Drippy bottles and containers with leaks can create a big mess on your refrigerator shelves. Create coasters from plastic lids to keep things clean. Place the lids under food containers to stop any potential leaks. If they get dirty, throw them in the dishwasher, while your fridge shelves stay free of a sticky mess.
  • You can run out of elbow grease trying to scrub burned-on stains off enamel pans. Skip the sweat. Soak the pan overnight in salt water. Then boil salt water in the pan the next day. The stains should lift right off.
  • Burned milk is one of the toughest stains to remove, but salt makes it a lot easier. Wet the burned pan and sprinkle it with salt. Wait about 10 minutes, then scrub the pan. The salt absorbs that burned-milk odor too.
  • Grease can be tough to remove from iron pans, because it is not water-soluble. Shortcut the problem by sprinkling salt in the pan before you wash it. The pan will absorb most of the grease. Wipe the pan out and then wash as usual.
  • No matter how thoroughly you dry them, cast-iron woks tend to rust when you wash them in water. Instead, when you’re done cooking, but while your wok is still hot, pour in about 1/4 cup salt and scrub it with a stiff wire brush. Wipe it clean, then apply a light coating of sesame or vegetable oil before stowing it. Don’t clean a wok with a nonstick coating this way, because it will scratch the coating.
Nothing will do a better job than vinegar when it comes to removing stubborn stains on your cookware. Here’s how to put the power of vinegar to use:
  • Give those dark stains on your aluminum cookware (caused by cooking acidic foods) the heave-ho by mixing in 1 teaspoon white vinegar for every cup of water needed to cover the stains. Let it boil for a couple of minutes, then rinse with cold water.
  • To remove stains from your stainless steel pots and pans, soak them in 2 cups white vinegar for 30 minutes, then rinse them with hot, soapy water followed by a cold-water rinse.
  • To get cooked-on food stains off your glass ovenware, fill them with 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water, heat the mixture to a slow boil, and let it boil at a low level for five minutes. The stains should come off with some mild scrubbing once the mixture cools.
  • They call it nonstick, but no cookware is stainproof. For mineral stains on your nonstick cookware, rub the utensil with a cloth dipped in undiluted distilled vinegar. To loosen up stubborn stains, mix 2 tablespoons baking soda, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 1 cup water and let it boil for 10 minutes.
  • Remove burned-on grease and food stains from your stainless steel cookware by mixing 1 cup distilled vinegar in enough water to cover the stains (if they’re near the top of a large pot, you may need to increase the vinegar). Let it boil for five minutes. The stains should come off with some mild scrubbing when you wash the utensil.
  • Get that blackened, cooked-on grease off your broiler pan by softening it up with a solution of 1 cup apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar. Apply the mixture while the pan is still hot, and let it sit for an hour or so. Then watch in amazement as the grime slides off with a light scrubbing.

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