All 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
- ½ C White Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon 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.
Not so fast with calling this "non-toxic". Aluminium is toxic and therefore even the German health administration advises people not to wrap acid food (e.g. tomatos, fruits etc.) into Alu foil any more, especially not for kids. I really doubt that aluminium in combinaton with vinegar and scubbing aluminium particles into the stainless steel pan is really better than cooking with teflon particles in your food. Take also a look at http://www.nutritionfacts.org with regard to aluminium and interference with human health (animals' too). There are other options like pads without soap or dergents. BTW: I have as well discarded all my teflon pans quite some time ago, but all aluminium pans and pots as well.
Dr. Karen says
Lukas, I totally agree about aluminum being bad for you. I don't recommend using aluminum with food at all so I don't recommend canned foods or wrapping ANY food in aluminum, not just acidic foods. Having said, the reaction aluminum with vinegar and baking soda in this formula for cleaning the surface of stainless steel pans gets washed off when you follow the directions. I'm sure there are scouring pads that can clean but (unfortunately) most people have aluminum foil wrap at home so using what you have at home was the point of this post. And I'm glad you stopped using teflon pans! Thx for your feedback!
Nice idea, but why not simply season the pan? Facilitates utilization of fond and aids against burning. Ounce of prevention.
Jann Forrest says
Unfortunately seasoning does not prevent sticking of some foods and the stains. I have used baking soda, tried the various other methods that did not work. That is why I really don't like aluminum. This is a pressure cooker that I use constantly.
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..
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.
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.
Lori Popkewitz Alper says
Burnt oil is so hard to scrub out (and that happens a lot over here!). I'll probably have to give this a shot tonight. Thanks again.
stacy hancock says
i loooooooove vinegar and baking soda! works on cookie sheets, too!
Yes, they do!
Lori Popkewitz Alper 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 🙂
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.
Lori Popkewitz Alper says
Tried it today and it was great! Thanks for the tip Karen.
Ha! Just saw your reply. So glad it worked!
This is just the info I needed! How did you know?! Such a great solution-thanks!
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.