The Ultimate Cookware Cleaning & Care Guide
Copper: Sprinkle tarnished area with salt then drizzle fresh lemon juice to cover. Gently rub clean, rinse then towel dry. You can also try mixing equal parts flour, salt and vinegar to make a thick scouring paste (Source).
Cast Iron: To remove rust, slice a fresh potato in half and cover the cut end in liquid dish detergent. Rub the rust spots away with the potato, rinse, dry, then apply a light layer of oil to the surface (you’ll find more tips for cast iron items below).
Roasting Pans: Sprinkle the bottom with powdered laundry detergent (about a cup), or one or two dryer sheets (like Bounce). Add hot water to fully cover. Allow to soak for a few hours or overnight, then scrub (more tips found below).
Grungy Baking Sheets & Muffin Pans: Same method as roasting pans above. If there are no edges to your cookie sheets, try applying a laundry detergent & water paste. Allow to soak for a few hours then scrub.
Aluminum: Boil 3 TBS cream of tartar per 1 quart of water in the cookware for 15 minutes. Allow to cool before scrubbing.
Enamel: Mix 3 TBS baking soda per quart of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool before cleaning (more tips found below).
Getting Rid Of White Residue: Caused from mineral deposits…boil 1/3 to 1/2 mix of vinegar and water for 10 minutes (liquid must be higher than the stain line). Allow to cool then scrub.
Crusty Spots: Fill with warm water near to the top then drop in one or two denture tablets. Allow to fizz and soak for at least an hour before cleaning.
Casserole Dishes: Use 50/50 vinegar and cream of tartar, this miracle paste also takes care of old splatters and caked on gunk that casserole dishes and lids sometimes accumulate over time. Leave sit on the stain for an hour or two if the marks don’t come off easily the first application.
Another tip: Fill dish with warm water high enough to cover burned crust line. Add a generous teaspoon of bicarb and let sit. After awhile burned crust should loosen easily.
Cake & Pie Pan Edges: Dip a raw potato into scouring powder to work on the rusted corners and edges of cake and pie pans. You could also try using baking soda with a few drops of lemon juice.
*First published August, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization
Keep your eyes open for neglected pieces of cast iron offered at garage sales and auctions. With a little elbow grease you can bring them back to gleaming shape and they will last a lifetime with proper care, the tips below will help clean, season and prepare these pieces.
- Wash in hot soapsuds and rinse thoroughly.
- If food bits stick or have burned into the pan, soak in hot water with a bit of washing soda sprinkled on the spot. Bring to a boil if the burned food sticks stubbornly. Wash in hot soapsuds.
- Use a little baking soda in the final rinse to help prevent rust formation.
- Make sure item is completely dry before putting away (helps prevent rust).
- Re-season with oil as needed to protect against rust.
- If ironware is stored for long periods of time with little use, give the piece a light coating of mineral oil or paraffin inside and out as a protection against rust.
- Work on it with a nylon pad or fine steel wool. Can also sprinkle scouring powder over top if stains are stubborn.
- Cut a potato in half, drizzle a bit of liquid dish detergent or scouring powder on the surface, then scrub with the cut side of the potato.
After rust is gone, wash and season pan before storing away (seasoning tips below).
- Try table salt, bicarb or kosher salt as a scouring powder.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals since the cookware could absorb them.
- To strip the piece right down, soak in a 50/50 water and vinegar solution for about 6 hours. Wash well then season. Also, another tip I’ve collected suggests soaking the piece in Coca-Cola to strip off the rust.
- For especially caked on, rusted pieces: you may have to heat the item till it’s piping hot (fireplace, fire pit, oven), and then scrub. Be careful not to get burned, and be aware that heating it too fast or too hot may cause cracking.
- Never put it in the dishwasher.
- The more you use it, the better it gets :).
- If you invested in new pieces, your best bet is to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
How To Season
Here’s how to keep that favorite iron skillet in perfect condition.
- A fine scouring powder can be used to remove its lacquer coating.
- Rinse and dry it thoroughly and then coat it generously over the inside with unsalted fat or vegetable oil.
- Let it stand over a low flame for two or three hours, rubbing on more fat evenly at intervals of 20 or 25 minutes. Can also warm first on stovetop then place in a 350 degree oven to do this.
- Use a cloth or paper towel to wipe out the grease, wipe with hot soapsuds, rinse and dry it thoroughly.
- For the first dozen or so times the pan is used, rub the inside with oil or fat and it will gradually become fully seasoned.
- After the first seasoning, try preparing dishes with animal fats or deep fried and sauteed items. This will help the seasoning process and develop a non-stick surface over time.
- You can use shortening, grape seed oil, lard, bacon grease, non-stick spray, to grease and season the piece.
- Acidic foods such as lemons, vinegar and wine can strip the seasoning. Watch and re-season if necessary.
If you invested in new cookware, your best bet is to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Credit: Some of the information above was collected from Woman’s Home Companion Household Book (1948)
*First published August 1, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization
After completing one of the steps below, dump and wash as you normally would.
- Fill enamel pot 3/4 full with water, toss in a bunch of peels from lemons and/or oranges. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Apply a baking soda/water paste to stains and let sit for an hour. Fill with water (leaving paste inside pot), stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve the bicarb. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Fill with water and add a good splash of bleach. Stir then allow to soak overnight.
- Fill with water and stir in a small handful of salt. Soak overnight. The next day boil the mixture for about 20 minutes.
- Make a paste from fresh lemon juice and baking soda. Apply to stains and set aside for a couple hours. Fill with water, toss in lemon peels and boil for 20 minutes.
- Simmer 4 or 5 unpeeled potatoes (do not clean first) in a pot full of water until most of it evaporates. Refill and boil down again, repeating the process 4 times. Allow to sit overnight.
*First published March 21, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization
Here are a few different methods for tackling roasting pans with seriously cooked on crud that won’t budge. These aren’t recommended for non-stick pans, try just soaking those overnight (use a bit of dish soap too).
- Fill the pan a couple inches deep with warm water, add a cup of laundry detergent (powdered) and soak for several hours or even overnight. You can also heat on stove top for 10 to 15 minutes (medium heat) if it’s an especially tough job.
- Sprinkle pan generously with bicarb, pour hot water over top about an inch or two deep and soak for a couple hours. Try boiling for a few minutes first if the mess is bad.
- Fill the roaster with warm water about 1 inch deep, bring to boil on stove top then add a tablespoon of cream of tartar and a tablespoon of vinegar. After 2 or 3 minutes, drain. At this point the mess should lift up more easily.
- Fill with warm water an inch or two deep and add a cup of powdered dishwasher detergent. Allow to soak overnight, then drain and wash as usual.
- First wash the pan as best you can, then make a paste with vinegar and cream of tartar. Apply to stubborn spots and let sit for a few minutes. Scrub away. Repeat if needed.