Kitchen Hack: How to Get Stubborn Brown Stains Off Your Pans

September 3, 2015

How can you tell an experienced chef from an amateur? A chef will have a kitchen as clean as his or her food is tasty.

Okay, okay, maybe we got that from Ratatouillebut the idea behind it is true. Any chef worth his salt knows that taking care of your equipment is half the battle. The pristine pots and pans in your kitchen says just as much about your cooking abilities as the food you serve your guests.

For the most part, keeping your kitchen in tip-top shape is easy. Sharp knives just require a little regular maintenance, and cleaning your oven really isn’t as difficult as it sounds. But even washing your pans carefully after each use can’t protect you from one common cooking conundrum: brown stains on the sides and bottoms of your pans.

Over time, oil and grease can stain your pots and pans brown. They’ll still work just fine, but if you’re all about keeping your kitchen sparkling clean, the stains have got to go.

But scrubbing with a little bit of soap and water often just doesn’t do the trick. For those stubborn, cooked-on stains, you’ve got to get creative. Different cooks recommend different methods, so you might have to try a few of these to find out which works best on your pots and pans.

Perhaps the simplest solution is scrubbing away the stains with some crumpled up aluminum foil. The harsher surface can sometimes get off the gunk that a normal sponge can’t.

If that doesn’t work, you can try making a paste from baking soda and water. Wet the baking soda just enough to create a thick paste, and cover the stains in it. Wait a few minutes, and wipe it off with a heavy duty steel scrubbing pad. The grease and oil should start to come off. Rubbing the stains with a cloth dipped in undiluted white vinegar can also be effective.

If DIY cleaning isn’t really your style, you can always turn to an old favorite: Bon Ami. This nontoxic cleaning powder is surprisingly powerful, and combined with steel scrubbing pads, can get rid of almost any stain.

With these tips in your cleaning arsenal, your pans will be looking as good as new in no time.

Photo credit: Trinette Reed via Stocksy

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Annalise Mantz

Annalise is a foodie, Brussels sprouts lover, grammar nerd, and political pet aficionado.

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