What Should You Not Use on Stainless Steel 12″ Cookware?

A well-maintained stainless steel cookware set looks sleek, durable, and responds incredibly well to natural cleaners. It can be tempting to use abrasive cleaners and scrubbers, but it’s a sure way to scratch and dull the metal and ruin its appearance.

Similarly, using bleach or cleaning compounds that contain chlorine will cause surface corrosion (pitting). These reactions aren’t only unsightly; they can also render the metal unusable.

Vinegar is a great non-toxic, gentle, and effective stainless steel cleaner. It is safe for babies, children, and people with chronic illness to come into contact with. However, it’s important to be cautious when using vinegar if it’s sprayed or used in an enclosed space. Its acetic acid is an eye and lung irritant, so it’s best to use it in a well-ventilated area or outdoors. Vinegar can also etch the surface of some surfaces, so it’s not recommended for marble countertops or tile backsplashes.

Strong acids destabilize the passive layer that protects stainless steel. Acids like hydrochloric and sulfuric acid degrade the metal by oxidizing it. Undiluted hydrochloric acid is often used as a descaling agent, and more diluted sulfuric acid can be found in drain cleaners. These chemicals can corrode stainless steel, cause chemical burns, and damage the skin.

Never preheat stainless steel on high heat. SS is effective at holding heat, but high temperatures can cause it to overheat and warp the pan’s structure. Instead, heat the pan on low to moderate heat until water dances on the surface.

Do not add salt to the pan until the water is boiling. Adding it prematurely can pit the metal and leave white dried calcium spots on the surface of the pan.

Using abrasive scrubbers or coarse sponges can scratch and damage the luster of stainless steel. They can also create tiny scratches on the surface of the metal that can rust and pit the surface over time. Avoid these cleaning tools and instead rely on soft sponges, nylon scrubbers, or steel wool to remove stuck-on food particles.

Never submerge hot stainless steel cookware in cold water or leave it to soak. The sudden temperature change can cause the metal to warp and become brittle or pit. Instead, rinse with warm or distilled water and dry the cookware immediately to prevent water spots. Adding a little vinegar or baking soda to the final rinse can help to prevent streaking and add a glossy shine. After washing a pan, drying it with a microfiber cloth dipped in warm water will help to prevent water spots and add a streak-free shine. You can also try Branch Basics All-Purpose or Bathroom to spray directly on your stainless steel and wash in a basin, respectively.