Starting to stock your kitchen with cookware? Or have you been collecting quality pots and pans for years? Either way, you want to make sure the pieces you invest in will last as long as possible. Since it can be difficult to understand the different coatings and specific care instructions for different kinds of pans, we asked the experts for their best tips on caring for enameled cast iron, cast iron, nonstick, and stainless steel pans.
Enameled Cast Iron
Do you have a cherished Dutch oven sitting on your stovetop? Do you use it everyday? You should! "For regular cleaning, even for stuck on food, warm water and dish soap are your best bet," recommends Nate Collier, Le Creuset's director of marketing communications. He suggests "scrubbing with a scouring sponge [anything but steel wool] to remove food residue." What about stubborn scraps that you just can't seem to get off? "Bring a small amount of baking powder and water to a slow simmer, turn it off, and once the water is cool, drain and clean again with a scrubbing sponge," he says.
If you worry about rust forming on your cast iron, you're not alone. However, maintaining a cast iron skillet is straightforward: A nylon scrub brush and cloth dish towel are best for removing grime—steel wool is too abrasive and can damage the pan. Using a little water is a perfectly safe way to clean cast iron, but the biggest mistake you can make? "Soaking cast iron in water over night," says Lodge Cast Iron's public relations manager Mark Kelly. To reseason cast iron after cleaning: "Wipe a small amount of oil over the skillet. Place in the oven or on the stovetop at medium to medium low for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the oils to seep in." says Kelly.
If you have a brand new nonstick pan, read the instructions before using it. Some nonstick pans can't go in the oven above a certain temperature or be cleaned in a dishwasher. Always let the pan cool down completely before submerging it in cold water. Otherwise, the drastic temperature difference can cause warping, notes the team at Calphalon.
Stainless Steel Cookware
If stainless steel pots and pans are stained, restore the shine with a stainless steel polish like Bar Keeper's Friend. For everyday cleaning, use a non-abrasive sponge and hot sudsy water to remove residual grime.