How To Clean Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

updated Jun 8, 2019
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(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

They look so bright and shiny when you first buy them, but over time stainless steel cookware can acquire brown spots and discolored areas that won’t go away with routine dish washing. This type of staining is fairly common for stainless steel, but it’s a little unsightly, particularly if left untreated.

Thankfully, no matter how stained your pot is, there is a super cheap and easy way to get it looking new again. It will require a fair amount of elbow grease, but the payoff is worth it.

The secret to cleaning stainless steel cookware? Bar Keepers Friend. You can pick up this non-abrasive, non-bleach cleaner for around $2 at most hardware stores. Combined with a little water and a good scrubbing pad, it does an amazing job at cleaning up stainless steel pots and pans!

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How to Clean Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

What You Need

Bar Keepers Friend
Scrubbing pad (a Dobie pad or non-abrasive sponge is ideal to minimize scratches)
Rubber gloves (optional, but recommended)


  1. Pour a very small amount of water into the pot, then add a few generous shakes of Bar Keepers Friend.
  2. Mix the water and powder together. (My mixture was more watery, but you can use less water for more of a paste texture, too.)

  3. Using a sponge, spread the mixture up the sides and all around the pot.
  4. Now apply some vigorous elbow grease and scrub away at the stains! This could take you anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes. Add more Bar Keepers Friend to your sponge for determined stains.
  5. Repeat for the outside of the pot.
  6. Rinse and dry!

Note: For those of you wondering where the writing went on the bottom of the pot, I can promise you that this is the same pot. The All-Clad label that’s so clearly visible on the bottom is still there, although it’s very light now, probably due in part to the Bar Keepers Friend and the rough scrubbing pad I used in this particular case. It doesn’t really bother me that the label isn’t that visible anymore, but word to the wise: definitely opt for a Dobie pad or a non-abrasive scrubbing pad if you want to maintain the label on the bottom and minimize scratching.

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