There's nothing more daunting than facing a goopy, stuck-on cheesy pan of lasagna after a big Italian meal. But putting off cleaning that pan will only make your situation worse. This article will provide helpful tips and guidelines for cleaning all your cookware and serving ware, from cast iron pans to crystal glasses.
Before we delve into each specific surface, here are some great tips for general cleaning of serving ware and cookware.
- Basic care for all cookware and serving ware 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.
- To protect aluminum cookware from discoloration, never wash it in a dishwasher or let it soak in soapy water for long periods of time.
- To remove interior discoloration, fill the pan with water, add 1 tablespoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon lemon juice per quart of water, and simmer until the discoloration is gone. Complete the process by scouring the pan with a steel-wool soap pad. Caution: Wear rubber gloves.
- Use a steel-wool soap pad to remove burned-on food on cast-aluminum cookware.
- Liquid nonabrasive bathroom cleanser or a paste of baking soda and water used with a synthetic scouring pad will polish both cast and sheet aluminum.
Now let's take a look at cleaning cast iron without removing its seasoning.
Cleaning Cast Iron
- Cast-iron cookware has a tendency to rust if it is not kept properly seasoned. Some cast-iron cooking utensils come from the factory already sealed, but most will have to be seasoned before their first use. Season cast-iron cookware in the traditional way: Scour cast-iron pots with a steel-wool soap pad, rinse, then wipe the inside of the pot with vegetable oil, place it in a warm oven for two hours, and wipe off the excess oil. Repeat this procedure periodically and whenever rust spots appear.
- Wash cast-iron cookware in hot sudsy water, then dry it thoroughly, and store in a dry cupboard without its lid in place.
- Never wash cast-iron cookware in the dishwasher; it will remove the seasoning and cause rust.
Like cast iron, clay and enamel cookware has some unique cleaning requirements. Read on to find some good tips for cleaning clay and enamel.
Cleaning Clay and Enamel
- Soak new clay cookware in water for about 1/2 hour before using it for the first time. Be sure to soak both the top and the bottom, then scrub them well with a stiff brush to remove any clay dust.
- Line the cooker with parchment paper to prevent the porous surface from absorbing food stains and strong flavors.
- If your clay pot becomes stained or takes on pungent odors, fill the cooker with water, add 1 to 4 tablespoons baking soda, and let it stand.
- Never put hot clay cookware on a cold surface -- it might crack.
- Never wash clay cookware in the dishwasher or scrub it with a steel-wool soap pad.
- Carefully dry the cooker before storing it to prevent mold. Store clay cookware with its lid off.
- If mold spots appear on a clay cooker, brush the surface with a paste made of equal parts baking soda and water. Let stand 30 minutes, preferably in strong sunlight; brush the paste away, rinse well in clear water, and dry.
- Always let enamel cookware cool before washing. Rapid changes in temperature can crack the enamel coating.
- If necessary, soak a dirty pot to loosen cooked-on foods.
- Use a synthetic scouring pad -- never abrasive cleansers or steel wool -- to scrub stubborn soil.
- Enamelware can be washed safely in the dishwasher.
Like aluminum, copper cookware changes color without proper cleaning and polishing. Take a look at the tips on the next page for cleaning copper.
Copper darkens with use and exposure to air. If you prefer shiny copper, you can clean and polish it easily with commercial copper cleaner.Copper PolishTo clean a discolored copper pot, use a paste of 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon flour. Caution: Wear rubber gloves. Because the vinegar is acid, wash the pot in hot soapy water and rinse it before vigorously buffing for shiny results. You'll have the same success with a paste made of 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon salt.
- Copper cookware is lined with some other metal, usually tin or steel, to prevent harmful chemical reactions with food. Use only wood, nylon, or nonstick-coated spoons for stirring to prevent scratches.
- Some copper cookware comes with a protective lacquer coating that must be removed before the utensil is heated. Follow the manufacturer's instructions or place in a solution of 1 cup baking soda and 2 gallons boiling water. Let it stand until the water is cool, peel off the coating, wash, rinse, and dry.
- Protect copper pans from scorching by making sure there is always liquid or fat in the pan before it is placed on the heat.
- When melting butter, swirl it around in the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Lower the heat as soon as the contents of the pot reach the boiling point.
Let's take a break from cleaning the different types of cookware and turn to tips for cleaning dinnerware.
- To make short work of cleaning dinnerware, remove food residue as quickly as possible. Scrape dishes with a rubber scraper or plastic brush to prevent scratches. Never scrape plates with knives or other sharp objects.
- Rinse out cups before residues have a chance to stain them.
- Acidic foods, such as tomatoes, vinegar, and wine, allowed to remain on glazed dinnerware can pit the surface.
- To protect glass and china from breaking while you are washing it, use a plastic dish pan or rubber sink mat. You can also pad the bottom of the sink with a towel.
- Do not wash delicate, hand-painted, gold- or silver-trimmed, or antique dinnerware in the dishwasher. Metal-trimmed dinnerware should also not be soaked in soapy water for long periods of time; this will damage the trim.
What goes great with dinnerware? Utensils, of course! Find tips for cleaning flatware and cutlery on the next page.
Flatware and Cutlery
- Most people wash knives, forks, and spoons along with other dishes. If washing by hand, wash flatware after the glasses and before the plates.
- Cutlery (knives and other cutting instruments) can be cleaned in the same way as flatware, but observe the manufacturer's instructions to be sure that the cutlery is dishwasher-safe.
- Always wash gold-plate flatware by hand and buff to bring up the shine and prevent water spots.
- Sterling-silver and silver-plate flatware may be washed in the dishwasher, but will need to be polished less often if it is washed by hand.
- Rinse salt and acidic food off flatware as soon as possible to avoid stains.
- Clean streaks on your everyday flatware by rubbing with a soft cloth sprinkled with a little olive oil. Use a second cloth to buff.
- Make a paste of cornstarch and water and apply to tarnished silverware. Let dry; wipe clean with a dry cloth.
- Mix a solution of 5 ounces dry milk powder, 12 ounces water, and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Pour into a 9x13-inch cake pan. Drop in tarnished silverware, and let it sit overnight. Rinse and dry all pieces thoroughly.
- Store silverware in rolls, bags, or cases made with special tarnish-resistant cloth.
- Place 1 or 2 pieces of white chalk in your silverware chest to prevent tarnishing.
- Do not allow stainless-steel flatware to touch anything made of silver in the dishwasher. It will set up an electrolytic action that pits the stainless steel and leaves black spots on the silver.
Now your flatware and cutlery are sparkling clean. Let's move on and give some shine to that glassware in your cabinet.
- Most glassware can be safely washed in the dishwasher, but gilt- and silver-trim glass, delicate crystal, milk glass, and ornamental glass must be washed by hand. If you have soft water, wash all glassware by hand -- the combination of soft water and detergent will etch and permanently dull glassware.
- Before you wash glassware, cushion the bottom of the sink with a towel or rubber mat.
- Add vinegar to the wash water or rinse water for more sparkle; ammonia in the wash water will cut grease on glassware.
- Slowly slide stemware into the water, holding the glass by the base; if you push a glass into the water bottom first, it is likely to crack.
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Hold glasses by the base when submerging them in water.
- Glass and Ceramic Glass CookwareJust like glassware, glass and ceramic cookware requires tender loving care. Here are some tips for cleaning glass and ceramic glass.
heat-resistant glass and ceramic-glass cookware is designed for oven use
only, but some can be used on stovetops.
the manufacturer's instructions carefully to make sure that you use your
glass and ceramic-glass cookware is dishwasher-safe.
cookware that is allowed to boil dry is likely to shatter. If a pot
boils dry, turn off the heat and leave the pot where it is until it has
- Remove mineral deposits from glass coffeepots and teapots by boiling full-strength cider vinegar in the container for 15 minutes.
Remove dirt from crevices with a soft brush; remove stains by rubbing with a cut lemon or washing in a vinegar solution.
- Most heat-resistant glass and ceramic-glass cookware is designed for oven use only, but some can be used on stovetops.
- Allow glassware to drip-dry upside down, or polish with a soft cloth.
- Clean stained decanters by filling them with water and adding 1 cup ammonia or vinegar. Soak overnight.
Just because it's nonstick, doesn't necessary mean it's easy to clean. Go to the next page for tips on cleaning cookware with a nonstick finish.
Cleaning Nonstick Finishes
- Nonstick finishes or coatings are relatively thin and easily damaged. Use wood, nylon, or specially coated spoons and spatulas to prevent surface damage.
- Most nonstick cookware can be safely washed in the dishwasher.
- Wash new pans before using them, and lightly coat the inside with vegetable oil. Apply vegetable oil again after each washing in the dishwasher and after treating for stains.
- Do not soak pans in soapy water; the coating can retain a soap flavor.
- When you want to remove stains from nonstick cookware, mix 2 tablespoons baking soda with 1 cup water and 1/2 cup liquid bleach. Boil the solution in the pan for several minutes until the stains disappear, then wash as usual.
You wouldn't get much cooking done without dirtying up a utensil or two. Learn about cleaning plastic and rubber on the next page.
Cleaning Plastic and Rubber
- Plastic and rubber utensils and containers should never be exposed to high heat, because some plastics will melt and warp, and heat and sunlight can cause rubber products to crack.
- Check the manufacturer's instructions to see if an item is dishwasher-safe.
- Do not use solvents, harsh abrasives, or scouring pads to remove stains from plastic or rubber.
- A paste made of baking soda and water is very effective for removing stubborn soils and stains from plastic and rubber utensils. Apply the paste to plastic with a sponge or soft cloth; a synthetic scouring pad can be used on rubber.
- Remove odor from a plastic container by crumpling a piece of newspaper into the container. Secure the lid tightly, and leave it overnight. The paper will absorb the odor.
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Place crumpled newspaper in plastic containers to remove odors.
Finally! A surface that doesn't require much special attention. Read on to learn about cleaning stainless steel.
Cleaning Stainless Steel
- Stainless steel requires little special care. It is dishwasher-safe, but if you wash it by hand, dry it promptly to prevent water spots.
- Letting a pot boil over high heat for a long period of time will discolor stainless steel.
- Storing the cookware stacked with other pots and pans may cause surface scratches.
- To polish stainless steel, sprinkle baking soda on the wet surface of a pan, and scrub the metal with a synthetic scouring pad. Caution: Wear rubber gloves. After rinsing and drying, the pan will be bright as new.
From cutting boards to spoons, wood can be found throughout your kitchen. Learn how to best clean this surface on the next page.
Wood bowls, trays, rolling pins, spoons, salad utensils, and cutting boards need special care to prevent warping and cracking. Because wood is porous, it absorbs moisture. When it dries out, the wood may be rough because the water may have raised the grain. Periodically clean and oil cutting boards to restore their smooth surfaces and to protect them from moisture. Some salad bowls are finished with a waterproof varnish, but many people prefer to keep their bowls untreated to absorb seasonings and enhance the flavor of salad.
- Wipe wood immediately after use with a sponge or paper towel moistened in cold water.
- If the wood item needs to be washed, don't let it soak in water and never put it in the dishwasher.
- Remove stains with a solution of 1/4 cup chlorine bleach and 1 quart warm water. Rinse and dry, then coat with vegetable oil.
- Eliminate odors by rubbing the surface with a slice of lemon.
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Rub wood surfaces with a lemon slice to remove odors.
- Baking soda cleans and deodorizes wood. Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 1 quart warm water, and rub it on the wood surface. Caution: Wear rubber gloves.
- Use a synthetic scouring pad to clean a cutting board. Scour the gummy residue on the edges of the board. Rinse with clear water; blot the moisture with a towel, and air-dry.
- Bring back the natural finish by giving woodenware a coat of boiled linseed oil or vegetable oil, rubbed in with a synthetic scouring pad. Apply two thin coats 24 hours apart, wiping off the excess 1/2 hour after each application.
Now that you've cleaned every piece of cookware and serving ware in your kitchen, it's time to mess it up again with another meal! Luckily, if you follow the tips and guidelines mentioned in this article, keeping these pieces clean will be a snap.
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