How to Clean Old Pots

Five Methods:CopperStainless SteelEnameled PansGlass PansIron Pans or Skillets

There are five types of pots, pans, and skillets that can be reused after cleaning up old baked-on grime. Copper, stainless steel, enameled, glass, and iron are the five that are reusable and safe to clean. In this article, you will learn how to clean them.

Method 1

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    If your copper pans are lined with stainless steel, use the directions for cleaning stainless for the interior of the pans.
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    Clean the outside of the pan with a good grease-cutting cleanser, such as a citrus-based product. Citrus removes tacky grease from surfaces.
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    After removing the tacky grease from the pans, use a paste made of dish soap mixed with scouring powder (such as Comet, Zud, or Ajax) to clean off hard deposits. Mix the paste, smear on the pan, let it dry, and rub it with a cloth until the stains are gone.
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    Finally, use a copper cleaner, such as the paste type. The paste type usually leaves a protective film on the surface after cleaning, but there are many excellent liquids that will clean with no rubbing on your part.

Method 2
Stainless Steel

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    Mix a paste of scouring powder and dish soap and use with a Brillo or other metal scouring pad, not steel wool. Scrub hard until they are clean.
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    If there are any remaining stains, use a steel wool cleaning pad to finish up your work.

Method 3
Enameled Pans

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    Use oven cleaner to clean these. It may lighten the colors and/or remove the hard coating, but it will clean them up very well.
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    Wash the pan with a vinegar and water solution to remove any cleaner left behind. Then give the pan a good hot water and dish soap bath to finish the cleaning process.

Method 4
Glass Pans

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    Use a thick paste of soda and water or soda, dish soap, and water. Add very little water. Rub the stains with a cloth, sponge, or paper towel that has been moistened with the mixture.
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    Wash the pan thoroughly with soap and hot water after cleaning.

Method 5
Iron Pans or Skillets

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    Never let iron pans or skillets soak in dishwater; it may cause rust in the sink and on the pan.
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    Remove all old buildup from an iron pan. You can either throw it into a hot coal fire or put it in a self-cleaning oven for the same period of time as you would clean the oven. This will turn all the buildup into ash, and the pan will be like new again. Note: If you use this method - allow the pan to cool completely before touching. It could be hot enough to melt even a potholder. Let it cool first!
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    After cleaning the pan, pour about a tablespoon of oil into the pan and a teaspoon of salt. Rub the pan thoroughly with this mixture with a paper towel until you have a clean paper towel. (This leaves a good finish on the pan, protects it, and keeps food from sticking to it.)
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    Finally, when you use the pan again, utilize the oil and salt treatment each time after cleaning. Some people believe that iron pans should never be cleaned any other way, such as with soap and water.


  • For very thick baked-on buildup on pans, you can use a window scraper to remove the worst of it. Do not use on glass or enamel, for it will scratch and tarnish the surface.


  • Never, under any circumstance, mix a bleach base with an ammonia base; it can create a gas that can cause permanent damage to your health.
  • Read all cleaning supply labels for any warnings posted.

Article Info

Categories: Pots and Pans