When treated properly, a beautiful pan should last you a lifetime. Innovations like ceramic non-stick interiors and design-forward finishes have made quality cookware must-have equipment for home cooks. But there’s nothing worse than marring your beautiful new Dutch oven with cooked-on stains and scratches, or ruining a perfectly-seasoned cast iron pan.
It’s important to use a non-scratch sponge for most, like the Scotch-Brite™ Brand’s line of Scrub Dots Non-Scratch Sponges, though some scenarios call for a more heavy-duty pass with a bristle brush. Here’s a handy dishwashing guide to help you keep your pots and pans at their most effective and most sparkling.
A Classic Cast Iron
Cast iron pans are kitchen workhorses—they’re inexpensive, incredibly sturdy, and heat evenly. They do need a little extra love to keep them well-seasoned and rust-free. Yours should never go in the dishwasher or be left to soak for any period of time.
First, never heat your pan without at least a little oil in it, which will help build up a polymer finish that’s practically non-stick. Then after cooking, brush your pan free of food residue using an ergonomic wand with bristles, like Scotch-Brite™ Brand’s version that’s designed to dispense dish soap as needed. (Contrary to popular belief, soap won’t ruin your seasoning — it’s water that’s the true enemy here).
If you can, take a few extra moments to wipe your pan dry after washing to avoid prolonged contact with moisture. If your pan starts to look dull or rusty, wash it thoroughly, then dry it over low heat on a burner. Apply a neutral oil to the pan when cool, which will restore the glossy, protective finish.
Your Centerpiece Dutch Oven
Perfect for braises or big batches of baked pasta, a Dutch oven is an investment piece that’s as useful as it is beautiful. Most have enameled interiors, and they come in a rainbow of sophisticated exterior shades (chances are you’ve seen some vibrant new options popping up in your friends’ kitchens).
Though they’re infinitely useful, these pots do present a little bit of a cleaning catch-22 — as with any enamel surface, you want to avoid cleaning with anything too harsh, but the heavy-duty cooking these pans are suited for often requires a little extra elbow grease. The right sponge is key to banishing things like cooked-on cheese without ruining the finish. Look for one with a wider surface area, like the Scotch-Brite® Advanced Scrub Dots Non-Scratch Scrubbers, which also has an angled shape that handily gets into corners. Soaking is also okay in this case, if you completely forgot to take that ziti out of the oven.
Timeless Stainless Steel
Lightweight, available in a variety of price points, and designed to heat up quickly, there’s many reasons why stainless steel pans are the go-to choice for professional chefs and a staple for home cooks. The downside? Things like scorched tomato sauce can be a pain to scrub off and ruin that mirror-shiny finish. For everyday cleaning, a sturdy sponge should be enough to do the trick.
When those really stuck-on messes pop-up, try filling the pan with water and a spoonful of white vinegar then bringing to a simmer. Allow to cool and empty the water mixture — you should find that any remaining gunk is softened and scrubs away easily. For exterior spills, rely on a non-scratch scrubber over harsh options like steel wool, which can leave permanent marks. And in good news, air drying works just fine here.
The New Non-Stick
There are many non-toxic, non-stick finishes available, and ceramic options are quickly gaining popularity due to their increased heat tolerance, some up to 500 degrees F, reports the Good Housekeeping Appliances and Technology lab. Some non-stick pans are dishwasher safe, but since they easily release every type of food, a gentle wipe is often all you need.
The unique texture of the Scotch-Brite® Scrub Dots Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge is effective and non-scratch—use the soft side to wipe the pan clear, and the scrubby one for the rare spot of leftover egg or melted cheese—nothing will stick to the surface, which rinses clean for your next round of washing up. The most important rule of thumb? Never stack your non-stick cookware after cleaning. The bottoms of other pans and cookware are often the source of those annoying surface scratches that seem to appear out of nowhere.
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