Green Living

Clean your Pots and Pans like a Pro

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Years ago when I did not like to cook or really even know how, part of the reason I hated cooking was because I could never clean my pots and pans all the way. Or it took an hour to scrub it spotless.

So it would take mountains of inspiration to get in the kitchen and try something because I dreaded the dish washing aftermath that awaited me. And back then my husband was not the official dishwasher of the house like he is now. I figured if I wasn’t able to cook anything that was actually edible or enjoyable then it wasn’t fair to make him wash the dishes. The dishes were my personally imposed punishment for not being good enough in the kitchen.

Now I realize this is old hat to some folks, but to others it just might blow your mind like it did mine when I first learned this trick from a neighbor. It literally changed my life.

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After you have cooked your meal and your pot is all brown and crazy looking at the bottom, you have two options. You can make a yummy sauce by doing something that is called deglazing. Where you add some stock or wine, turn up the heat and then use a wooden spatula or spoon to scrape up the brown bits at the bottom. You can add some arrowroot flour or all purpose gluten free flour to thicken it up if you want too.

But if you are not making a sauce and just want to straight up clean up your pot, then just add water, turn up the heat and scrap away. Dump your gunky water once to see what is left and repeat the process till your pot is clean!

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BAM! Clean pot!!

Then I usually do a quick run with soap and water once the pot is cooled down. I even use a tiny amount of Bar Keeper’s Friend on my nice All Clad pots and pans if there is a particularly hard to clean spot. This product is in no way shape or form natural or chemical free. I do the same 80/20 rule for cleaning products and my contact with chemicals as I do with food. 80% of everything under my sink is Seventh Generation or homemade, but I ain’t got no problem with some tough stuff on rare occasions. Most of the time plain old baking soda will do the trick but I pull out the big guns when I need to.

I have a post coming up soon about cast iron skillets but just FYI, I try not cook bacon or fry anything with lard in my cast iron skillet (I use my stainless steel All Clad pans for that because its easier to clean up). I just use butter or olive oil in my cast iron skillet and clean it out with a towel and then it rinse it with water and wipe it again. This is the old school way to wash a cast iron skillet and keeps your skillet in good condition and “seasoned”. I have two cast iron skillets – one big and one small. The big one belonged to my father’s mother and I love having it in the kitchen with me. If you take care of a cast iron skillet they will literally last forever.

The hot water cleaning tip will work on any pot or pan. Give it a try, you will be amazed!

Finally, another quick tip for slow cookers: clean them out immediately after cooking when the slow cooker is warm, but not hot, and it’s super easy. For any tough left over spots, try a little baking soda first and then bring out the big guns only if you really need to.

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  • Andrea
    February 21, 2013 at 3:37 AM

    The first paragraph could have been describing me. I didn’t enjoy cooking because of the cleaning. Plus when we got married- the hub got home earlier then me and always cooked. While that was great and all- I usually got stuck with the aftermath and that guy could (and still can) wreck a kitchen! I dreaded cleaning all the stupid pots and pans because my husbands idea of cleaning is cramming the dishwasher full and thinking it all got clean. lol HA! Yep- the deglazing totally works! It will shine your pots up like nobody’s business! Funny thing is that it’s only been lately that I’ve discovered that on my own, since it’s only been the last year I’ve been the main cook and cleaner… 🙂

    • Stephanie
      February 22, 2013 at 2:56 AM

      Glad I am not the only one!

  • Amanda
    February 21, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Try Bon-ami as a big gun instead. VERY effective. I find mine at whole food and the co-op.

    • Stephanie
      February 21, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      Will check that out thanks!

  • TexasLea
    February 21, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    Before you break out the big guns another thing to try is adding a little plain white vinegar to the hot water. That’s my first line of attack on my all clad pots and if that doesn’t work I bring out the big guns too.

    On another note, have you ever baked your bacon? A friend showed me this trick a year or so ago and I haven’t cooked bacon in a skillet since! I just place the slices in an rectangular pyrex dish and bake it at 400 until it’s crispy. It’s awesome because the glass pyrex is so easy to clean afterwards and I don’t have bacon splatters all over my cook top.

    • Stephanie
      February 22, 2013 at 2:54 AM

      Great tip, thanks! I have, but I like to cook it in the skillet so I can get the grease to use for cooking other things.

  • Julie
    February 25, 2013 at 3:18 AM

    Appreciate these tips! Would you have any advice for cleaning a burned stainless steel pot? I tried hot water & vinegar but that hasn’t done it. I’m wondering if I’ve completely ruined it. Thanks!

    • Stephanie
      February 26, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      oooh, that is a good question. I have no idea! Sorry! Let me know when you find out, I am curious to know. I wonder if you could call the company that makes the pot??

      • Julie
        February 27, 2013 at 5:44 AM

        No worries! Thanks for trying the answer the question of a “burnt out” cook!

        • Nicole
          March 7, 2013 at 4:36 PM

          Bar Keepers Friend will work magic!

  • Jacqueline Hanson
    March 21, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    Ah, yes. This makes me think of the first time I burnt the heck out of the nice new set of pans hubby got me. I, too, will declare my love for the deglazing method of cleaning, but I’ve had some real doozies. My favorite all-natural cleaning work horse? Norwex Cleaning Paste. It’s comprised of fine marble “flour” (marble that’s been ground down into a fine dust), chalk, natural soap, and traces of coconut oil. It comes in a 2 lb tub, looks like a brick of soap. You rub a kitchen cloth (a fine mesh non-abrasive cloth that has replaced all of my sponges for the greater good) to collect some paste, rub it onto the burnt on bad guys and rinse. Presto. I HIGHLY recommend it!