View Full Version : Semi OT - Polishing Stainless Kitchen Pans

01-19-2012, 12:08 AM
Somewhere in the past I thought I had seen an article on here about cleaning and polishing "stainless" kitchen pots and pans, but cannot find it now so thought I would ask others opinions on the best way to approach this.

I cannot say enough good things about SWMBO. She helps out with almost everything I do, goes on "tool retrieval expeditions" both near and far with me, generally puts up with me, and does all of the usual womanly duties in the kitchen. Over the last year she has been also going back to school full time and working simultaneously which has put her time at a premium, and I have noticed that our pots and pans have suffered a bit. We are both really careful about getting the inside of them clean (I do help to a minor extent), but the outside of them have gotten covered in burned-on food "boogers" that are a royal PITA to clean off. The pots/pans in question are mostly newer Farberware "stainless" with the anti-stick teflon coating inside, with a few completely "stainless" Revere (older US, not newer Chinese).

The question is, how is the best way to remove the boogers from the non-food contact areas on a large scale basis? I was thinking of experimenting with the buffer, but dont really care to ruin the appearance of (relatively) expensive cookware. Would I be better off with a chemical cleaner, or do I have nothing to fear about the "stainless" becoming discolored? Do I need to be concerned much about what I use, being that these are food contacting items, but the cleaning is on non-food-contacting areas?

I would really like to surprise her sometime by cleaning them all up while she is out, so any help is appreciated.

Pete F
01-19-2012, 01:00 AM
Bar Keepers Friend (http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=bartender%27s+friend&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=3998048785&ref=pd_sl_161h76ni9i_e) is your friend too. Try it.


01-19-2012, 01:42 AM
I've found the expanded melamine foam (such as Mr. Clean Magic Eraser) does a great job of pulling out stains on pans that I couldn't even get out with Comet.

01-19-2012, 06:36 AM
Oven cleaner.

Warm the pan, soak it with oven cleaner, let it sit for a while, wash it off, and hand buff any stains that might be left.

Gary Gill
01-19-2012, 06:39 AM
glass bead blast?

01-19-2012, 09:39 AM
Hit your local restaurant supply store. Can't think of the trade name offhand but some one there should be able to help. Up here, Gordon Food Service carries some good gubbin cleanser.

01-19-2012, 09:46 AM
Zep Stainless Steel cleaner-


Can usually be found at Homedespot and other fine big box stores.$5-7/can

01-19-2012, 10:02 AM
Water is the "universal solvent". Soaking in water for an hour or two should make everything come of fairly easily, maybe with a little Scotchbrite. Hot water should do even better.

john hobdeclipe
01-19-2012, 10:55 AM
+ 1 on the Barkeepers Friend

01-19-2012, 12:35 PM
Lemon juice can be used to clean stainless.


Black Forest
01-19-2012, 12:58 PM
Take them out to your shop and leave them there. Buy her new ones exactly the same. Use the old ones to collect stuff or to soak things.

Less work and you will have some brownie points and some pots in your shop!

01-19-2012, 01:10 PM
We like the stainless steel wads for scrubbing things. It may somewhat dull the finish, but we've never seen it to be of concern. We throw the wads into the dishwasher to clean them and they keep on going.

01-19-2012, 01:23 PM
Harbor Freight sells "non-woven abrasive" balls that fit in your drill. They work ok but you need to finish with the finest grade and then buff because they do leave scratches. I have done this on her All-Clad.

This will also work but is usually more than I want to do (we keep the pans up pretty good).

get a lawn/leaf plastic bag.
put pans in it along with a bunch of ammonia and tie off real good
leave overnight.

01-19-2012, 02:32 PM
ALL of the various "scrubbers" will give a texture to the surface that is somewhat different from the originall finish. If it is dried or cooked-on food, NOT BURNED-ON, then I recommend a thorough soaking in warm water with a couple of tablespoons of TSP added. Leave them an hour or so. Then, with rubber gloves, (TSP will strip the oil out of your skin,) and elbow grease and a rough cloth, you should get the lumps off.
As for that "new-pan" shine, there are several stainless steel cleaners. I believe that the industry uses a citric acid based cleaner.

01-19-2012, 04:12 PM
ALL of the various "scrubbers" will give a texture to the surface that is somewhat different from the originall finish.

Does that include the melamine foam erasers? I am dubious it is hard enough to appreciably change the finish - unless I've been using it wrong?

01-19-2012, 04:39 PM
To polish up our 40 year old stainless (she wanted new) I used a scotch bight pad for the bottoms Internal making up the bottoming brushes took the time, and mop for the rest then changed for sisal mops and went through the 2 grit grades in the soap bars as I call them then changed to cotton mops for the fine finish soap bar finishing with industrial talcum powder I then polished the bakelite handles and knobs with 1200 grit wet and dry sandpaper she thought had gone out and bought her a new set and I still had the dosh to buy the Dividing Head

01-19-2012, 07:02 PM
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Unfortunately, I dont think plain water, lemon juice or the lower strength solutions will work in this instance. The reason I considered buffing or other chemicals is because Ive tried soaking combined with scrubbing several of these with green scotchbrite and various "all purpose" and other cleaners, which had the effect of wearing out my arm and not doing much, if any good.

I am going to try several of the stronger suggested cleaners, then may revisit the harsh abrasive/hand and soft abrasive/power methods to include kiwi's method.

Thanks again.

01-22-2012, 09:58 AM
Thanks for the suggestions everyone..

Let us know what ended up working; or not.

I've cooked in stainless pans for quite a few years and I'm pretty good at it. In ye olde bachelor years it was cook or starve, and I ended up fat, so do the math there.

You know how after you pan fry a steak in a SS fry pan, the pan is impressively filthy, then you deglaze the hot pan with a shot or two of cheap whiskey to make the base of a tasty sauce, maybe saute the mushrooms and onions while the steak "rests" and somehow the pan is instantly almost clean enough to put back on the shelf whereever the booze hit the hot pan? Ethanol is a great food grade polar solvent. You may want to try the worlds cheapest vodka for cleaning. Do not use anything you wouldn't drink, because you'll be inhaling all the fumes, so no isopropyl/rubbing alcohol, etc.

You really need to cook a couple batches of bananas foster to get used to fireballs in the kitchen, then assume your cleaning project will turn out much worse, then when something bad happens, but not as bad as you planned for, its all good. To start with, small batches are the key to survival. Can only guess at how many ambulance and fire truck calls due to that particular recipe; but it sure tastes good over (homemade) ice cream.

This post is making me way too hungry.