Sleek finish, even heating, and solid construction, stainless steel cookware is an excellent option for most kitchens. But, the main concern most home cooks face is whether to put stainless steel cookware in a dishwasher or manual washing is better. If you have the same question, here’s the answer:
Stainless steel cookware is dishwasher safe, especially when it’s non-coated. If you have good-quality steel cookware, load it in the dishwasher with other utensils/flatware and let the machine do its job. Sure, there are some protocols you should follow (more on that later), but most steel cookware sets don’t get scratched or corroded when you put them in a dishwasher
However, this is not the end; several other factors also impact your stainless steel cookware’s performance and usability. We’ve compiled this guide to bust some myths related to stainless steel cookware and share a few bits that’ll help your kitchen tasks.
Read on if you want to handle your cookware better!
Stainless Steel Cookware – Beaten for Decades and still Good-to-go.
The next time you visit a restaurant, try and see what cookware the professional chefs use. It’ll either be stainless steel, copper, or cast-iron, mainly because these three materials are durable.
When your cookware is durable, you don’t have to baby it, and you can cook anything you like without worrying about the clean-up phase; easy breezy.
Stainless steel cookware is a staple in most home kitchens, thanks to its timeless look and easy handling. If you’re setting up a kitchen and wish to know if your new (or even old) steel cookware will be friends with a dishwasher, stop worrying.
You can use non-coated stainless steel cookware however you want, and it’ll stand solid.
How is Stainless Steel Cookware Made?
We all know Iron is prone to rusting; it reacts with air and moisture pretty quickly.
Therefore, steel manufacturers introduced this technique of combining Iron with other trace elements to form a reliable alloy that is heat-proof, corrosion-resistant, and durable, i.e., stainless steel. This alloy includes elements like Chromium, Nickel, Carbon, and Silicone, each in different percentages.
During the steel manufacturing process, Chromium reacts with Oxygen, eventually forming an inert layer called Chromium Oxide. This layer prevents the metal core from rusting, hence the name stainless.
Chefs and cookware geeks prefer stainless steel for its even heating and strength; you can invest in stainless steel, it won’t fail your expectations.
What Is the Best Stainless Steel Alloy For Cookware?
Here’s a catch, stainless steel cookware isn’t the same everywhere. Several steel alloys are being used in cookware manufacturing, depending upon the manufacturer in question.
To know your steel pot/pan’s alloy, turn it upside down and search for some engraved words left by the manufacturer. You’ll see marks like 18/8, 18/10, or 18/0 if the cookware is fairly used; otherwise, these markings might have faded.
Want to know more about these percentages? Here’s an easy breakdown for you:
If you see 18/10 written under a steel pot, it has 18% Chromium and 10% Nickel. Chromium reacts with oxygen to form a protective layer, while Nickel adds to the alloy’s corrosion-resistant capacity. 18/10 is a solid steel alloy that doesn’t rust easily; anything below this will be more prone to rusting and discolouration.
Can Stainless Steel Cookware Go in the Dishwasher Every Day?
Stainless steel cookware is designed to take all the beating thrown its way; you don’t have to worry about it.
However, be mindful that steel pots and pans get discoloured due to regular usage; you’ll have to maintain a reasonable cleaning schedule to prevent this.
If your steel knives, forks, and pots have lost their shine over time, use white vinegar or baking soda to fight these stains. White stains, pitting, and rusting are common with regularly used cookware, but the good news is, you can deal with them.
How to Deal With Stains that Just Won’t Come Off?
Bare stainless steel gets stained pretty easily, sometimes even from boiling water. Luckily removing these stains doesn’t require much effort; here are some quick tips to help you:
White Stains/Calcium Deposits
If you’re wondering how your steel got white stains, here’s the answer. Tap water contains calcium deposits, and when you boil it, Calcium Bicarbonate breaks into chalk/Calcium Carbonate; this substance leaves hazy stains inside your steel cookware.
Although these white stains aren’t harmful, they sure ruin your cookware’s look. And the sad part is a dishwasher won’t altogether remove these stains; you’ll need some elbow grease.
Mix Bar Keeper’s Friend of White Vinegar (both contain acids that dissolve stains) with water and coat your pot/pan with it. The oxidation process will remove white stains, ensuring your cookware looks shiny like before.
Salt causes pit stains to appear on steel cookware; a scouring agent works fine with these. Mix a strong scouring powder with water and coat the pot/pan’s surface with this thick paste.
Wait for 25-30 minutes (or until the paste dries), and use a wooden/nylon spatula to remove the paste. This technique will remove most pit stains, and the remaining ones will come off after regular washing (you don’t have to do it one go, it can scratch the pan/pot).
Stainless steel flatware gets rusted when put in the dishwasher as it’s made from a different alloy than pots and pans. Use baking soda paste, and it’ll help you retain your steel cookware’s shine. Baking soda and Vinegar are safe for regular cookware cleaning and polishing; you can rely on them.
What Should You Not Use With Stainless Steel Cookware?
If you’re a busy home or commercial cook, you can trust a dishwasher with your favourite stainless steel cookware. However, that doesn’t mean you become oblivious to the care instructions. Remember these points to improve your cookware’ usability:
I have relied on steel wool to clean stains and rust for a considerable time, but once I realized the long-term damage this practice did to my pan, I stopped. Sure, fast, vigorous scrubbing saves your cleaning time, but it can ruin your cookware’s shine.
Steel wool, in particular, leaves small particles inside your cookware that rust over time. Rusting looks bad and affects your cookware’s heat distribution; wrong in both ways.
Brushes With Sharp Bristles
Most of us have steel brushes to clean stubborn stains, but it’s not the best practice, according to cookware manufacturers. Even if food burns in your pan and removing it seems tiring, don’t use brushes with sharp bristles. These bristles will slowly scrap your cookware’s insides, making it sticky in the long run.
Nylon or spaghetti sponges are better for cookware cleaning. If you use warm water and a soft brush/sponge, cleaning doesn’t feel that tiresome.
Chlorine bleach is deemed as a quick-fix for most staining problems, but you shouldn’t make this mistake with your cookware. Harsh chemicals scratch metallic surfaces, eventually finding their way to the deeper layers, and it’s harmful to your food.
How to remove rust from my stainless steel cookware?
Although stainless steel is corrosion-resistant, it can still rust. Luckily, overcoming this problem is easy; you need baking soda, water, and a toothbrush to deal with rust. Mix baking soda with water, make a thick paste; apply it to your cookware with a toothbrush, and leave it for 10-15 minutes. Baking soda will dissolve rust and pit stains without impacting your cookware’s quality.
Does Vinegar remove rust from stainless steel cookware?
Yes, Vinegar is a reliable cookware shiner and corrosion remover. If you frequently use your stainless steel cookware, coat it in a thin vinegar layer weekly or bi-weekly. Vinegar has acetic acid, which eats away rust and dirt, ensuring your cookware is always shiny. You can either use a kitchen towel or a buff to evenly spread Vinegar and keep rust at bay with minimal effort.
Why does food stick to my stainless steel pan?
Stainless steel has pores that expand upon heating. If you add raw food to a cold stainless steel pan, it sticks to the bottom, leaving you with a mess.
Therefore, chefs recommend you let a steel pan preheat before adding anything to it. This way, heat will expand the pores, and the food won’t leach into them.
If you are unsure about the pan’s temperature, add some water to it. If the water sizzles and floats to the side, your steel pan is ready to cook, and the food won’t stick to it.
You might see people recommending manual washing because it keeps the cookware safe, but this rule doesn’t apply to stainless steel. Steel is a rough-tough metal meant to endure rigorous kitchen use.
Get a high-quality steel set, i.e., All-Clad 18/10 cookware, and it will stay in your kitchen for decades. But if you already have stainless steel cookware, keep it away from harsh cleaners, and you’re free to put it in the dishwasher. You know your cookware best; if it needs gentle scrubbing, do it. And if a dishwasher round will clean the steel cookware’s interiors, no need to work extra hard.