1. Anodized Aluminum
Aluminum cookware that’s coated with a nonreactive layer (so it’s safe to use with acidic foods, like tomatoes) is not dishwasher-safe. Hand-wash it with mild dishwashing liquid and a light-duty nylon sponge. Oily residue will cause food to stick to it, so be certain it’s totally clean before you cook.
Hard-anodized cookware covered saucepan, by Martha Stewart Collection, $180 for a 12-piece set, macys.com.
Putting this type of cookware in the dishwasher can dull its finish and cause chips (which can then react with acidic foods). So hand-wash it with a light-duty nylon sponge and mild dishwashing liquid. Dry it completely with a dish towel, especially the rim, where nicks and scratches—and thus rust—are most likely.
Enameled cast-iron round casserole, by Martha Stewart Collection, 6 qt., in White, $180, macys.com.
3. Stainless Steel
Stainless steel pots and pans are heavy, durable—and dishwasher-safe. Just be sure that no sterling-silver or silver-plated items are in the machine at the same time; mixing these metals can lead to a chemical reaction that pits the silver. If you handwash, then use a lightduty nylon sponge and mild dishwashing liquid.
Copper Accent covered stockpot, by Martha Stewart Collection, 8 qt., $100, macys.com.
Most nonstick pans are not dishwasher-safe; hand-wash them with a soft sponge and mild dishwashing liquid. Never scour them with anything abrasive—doing so can damage the nonstick layer. If the coating is scratched or peeling, discard the piece; a compromised coating can release toxic compounds.
Black Everyday ceramic nonstick pan, by GreenPan, $80, williamssonoma.com.
Hand-wash copper cookware as you would other pots and pans that aren’t nonstick. The inside is usually lined with tin or stainless steel (since copper reacts to acidic foods); tin can be allowed to darken naturally with use. To get the outside sparkling-clean, cut a lemon in half, sprinkle it with coarse salt, and rub it all over the exterior until it gleams.
Copper sauté pan, by Mauviel, 3½ qt., $350, williams-sonoma.com.
6. Cast Iron
Most cast-iron products need to be seasoned before being used for the first time. (Each pot or pan should come with instructions.) To clean a seasoned pan, wash it with a soft sponge and hot water only. Never use soap (or a dishwasher), which will strip the seasoned surface. To prevent rust, dry the pan with a towel or over a low flame on the stove top before storing.
Round fry pan, by Lodge, 12", $36, williams-sonoma.com.
How to Handle The Stubborn Stuff
With cast-iron cookware, simply pour coarse salt on it and scrub with a dishrag. For everything else, fill the pot or pan with water and ¼ cup baking soda. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove from heat, and let the pot soak for an hour. Then scrape the pot clean with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
Fill the pot or pan with cold water and 2 to 3 tablespoons salt. Let it soak overnight. In the morning, boil the water; the marks should disappear. (If not, repeat the process.) Soaking stainless steel, though, can pit it; instead, rub it with a dishrag dipped in white vinegar to remove burn marks.