Non-Toxic Way To Clean Stainless Steel Pans

how to clean burnt stainless steel pan by ecokarenAll my pots and pans are stainless steel. I ditched all the non-stick Teflon pans years ago because of PFOA – perfluorooctanoic acid – a solvent used to make Teflon coated pans that are toxic to our health. I’ll admit; it took months of getting used to stainless steel pans because, as you can imagine, everything sticks to the pan if I’m not careful. But time to time, I get distracted and things DO stick on the bottom. And what’s worse, the stain gets baked into the pan. And no matter how much I scrub, it does not come off….unless I use Brillo pads, which I hate to use because I don’t like the soap that comes with Brillo pads. I even tried using copper scouring pads but it didn’t work either. It just scratched the pan. Boo Hoo! So, I decided to try the Non-Toxic Silver Polishing method, except, I replaced the Salt with Vinegar. The stain was worse than this when I started but I stopped the process so that I can take the photos for you to see.

What you’ll need:

Size and amount will vary depending on the size of your pans and the stains

  • 1/2 C White Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Soda
  • 6″ Square Aluminum Foil


Pour the vinegar and place the aluminum foil piece in the pan. Add baking soda. Swirl the pan around so that baking soda gets evenly distributed. While the solution is bubbling, gently rub the stain with the aluminum foil without scratching the pan’s surface/finish. Rinse with water and dry thoroughly with dish towel. Voila! The scratches were already there as I was using the copper pads earlier. ;( I wish I thought of using this solution before I did that.

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  1. says

    I am going to give this a try! I have all stainless pots and pans too. I usually let them soak overnight. Everything comes off pretty easily in the morning. Your pan is sparkly :)

  2. says

    I have telepathy…..:P

    Oh, just make sure not to scrub so hard with the foil. Let the solution do its trick. If you need to scrub, try it with a rough non-scratching type of a pad…or maybe even wooden spatula’s edge.

  3. says

    Lori, I do soak my pans for a couple of hours – not even overnight – and most of the time, they all come off. But I don’t know what happened with this one. The stain was just baked in. I think the oil got burnt. But this worked like magic!! Let me know if it works on yours.

  4. stacy hancock says

    i loooooooove vinegar and baking soda! works on cookie sheets, too!

  5. says

    Thanks so much for this information. I can’t wait to try it (never thought I’d look forward to cleaning pots!!)
    I also got rid of my teflon and fortunately have never used abrasives on my stainless steel. I use either Bon Ami or Mrs. Meyer’s Surface Scrub. They both work, but I’d like to try your method for some tough stains.

  6. tommy says

    I used thick tactic and yes it works. So I cleaned all of my cookware now with easy. So I find myself cooking more with no fear. Thank You..

  7. says

    That’s great Tommy! So glad it worked.

    Don’t worry about running out of things to clean. I can send you some of mine. :) Thanks for giving us your feedback.