Hand-wash or Not? Are You Cleaning Your Cookware All Wrong?

A definitive guide to cleaning your pots and pans
Hand-wash or Not? Are You Cleaning Your Cookware All Wrong?


Clean your cookware with confidence using this handy guide.

There are few things as frustrating as buying a new pan or a special piece of cookware and then finding out — after you wash it for the first time — that it requires special care. 

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Whether it was a roasting pan whose enameled coating was chipped or a cast-iron skillet that started to rust, the odds are good that you have accidentally damaged one of your pots and pans with soap, water, or a scouring pad — and, if not, you probably know someone who has.

Despite their differences, the various types of cookware are all relatively easy to clean — you just need to know which method is best for your particular pots and pans. When you purchase a new piece of cookware it generally comes with detailed cleaning instructions — defer to the manufacturer’s instructions if you have them. If not, try this handy guide — it will help you clean seven common types of cookware.



Most aluminum cookware can be divided into one of two categories: aluminum alloy cookware (fortified with metals like magnesium, copper, or bronze for added strength) and anodized aluminum cookware (which reacts less with acidic foods). Anodized aluminum cookware is generally dishwasher safe, but aluminum alloy cookware should be washed by hand.

Need to remove a stain from your aluminum cookware? Make a cleaning solution by mixing two teaspoons of white vinegar with two cups of water. Pour the solution into the pot, bring it to a boil for two minutes, and then rinse the pot with lukewarm water.

Cast Iron


The key to keeping cast iron clean and rust-free is to clean the pan while it is still warm and to buff it with a very thin layer of oil after cleaning. Start by washing your cast-iron cookware in hot water (no soap needed) with a stiff brush or a durable sponge. Don’t use steel wool, as it can ruin the seasoning on your pan. Then, dry the pan thoroughly with a clean towel before rubbing a thin layer of vegetable oil over the surface of the pan. Buff off any excess oil with a paper towel and store your cast-iron pan in a dry place.

Need to remove stuck-on pieces of food? Try boiling a small amount of water in your cast-iron cookware before cleaning it.

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Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

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