You've just finished a delicious, filling meal. Good food, good company -- what more could you ask for? How about someone to clean up all those dirty pots and pans?

This article can't provide the "someone," but it does offer some great tips and guidelines for making your cookware cleanup easier.

Before we delve into each specific surface, here are some great tips for general cleaning of cookware.

  • Basic care for all cookware starts with reading the manufacturer's care instructions.

  • Wash all pots and pans thoroughly inside and out soon after use.

  • If baked-on food requires washing the pan in soapsuds, dry it thoroughly after washing over a warm burner and rub vegetable oil into the pan with a paper towel.

  • Prevent heat stains on the outside of pans by keeping gas flames low so that they cannot lick up the side of the pot.

  • Do not subject cookware to sudden temperature changes; allow all cookware to cool before washing or soaking.

Aluminum cookware has the added problem of becoming discolored. Let's find out more.