Tooling Around: Coming Clean

Image via Lehigh Valley with Love. Click for details.

I hate doing dishes. HATE it. It is, in fact, one of the reasons I decided to have a kid.

Okay, that last bit isn’t true. My husband is the one who does the dishes. You see, the rule in our house is “whoever cooks does not clean.” I do a large portion of the cooking, and while I try to rinse and tidy as I go, I mostly avoid the responsibility of post-meal cleanup. I know; it’s a pretty good gig.

But, if you’ve been following along, you know our recently purchased stainless steel cookware has prompted some change in our approach to many kitchen matters. We’re re-learning how to cook, and we’re mastering a new way to clean.

Don’t wait to wash.

Remember all that scientific stuff I shared about preheating pans to close the pores in the steel? Good, because I’m going to talk about it some more. Steel holds heat (shocking, I know) and that is lucky for us because hot steel is a lot easier to clean than cool steel. By taking the time to scrape the miscellaneous food boogers out of your pans the instant you remove the food, there is no time for the pores to re-open and grab onto those sticky bits and pieces.

Can’t scrape right away? That’s understandable, but don’t give those food particles a chance to get comfortable. Take a second to pour some dish soap and water into your pan so it can soak while you eat. I don’t recommend soaking for more than an hour unless you enjoy those tiny flies that like to play around the sink.

Get an arm workout.

Apparently, stainless steel cookware is dishwasher safe, but we’re always a bit wary of the dishwasher in our rental house. It only gets the job done about two-thirds of the time and we really want to give these pots and pans the type of care that will help them last.

Whether we scrape or soak after the food is prepped, we (usually my husband) scrub after dinner. Start with hot water, dish soap, and a dish rag or sponge. Grasp the pot with one hand and, while it is submerged in sudsy water, rub the pot’s surface with the rag/sponge using a circular motion. Do the whole pan, inside, sides, handle, and bottom. If you do this nightly, those little circles will really have an impact on your bingo wings.

Once your cookware is spic and span, rinse off the suds. I find that cool water works best for rinsing because it tends to calm the soap bubbles, while warm to hot water activates the suds.

Polish your way to shiny pots and some muscle tone.

Did you notice how I didn’t tell you to dry your now-clean pots? That’s because it is time to give them some polish.

In all our web searches about stainless steel cookware it was almost unanimously recommended that we get ourselves some Bar Keepers Friend. One container sets me back $1.99 at the grocery store. So far, our culinary adventures have required us to polish our cookware after every use, but I’ve been led to believe some people only polish a few times a year.

You don’t really have to polish the entire pan; just the spots with areas with stubborn scorch marks or other residue. Here’s how it works. Sprinkle a generous amount of the powder onto one area of the pan. Using the same circular motion as above and a bit of pressure, scrub the offending area. BKF instructs you only to work for 90 seconds before rinsing (this is why you only want to pour it on the area you will be working on). Repeat the sprinkle, polish, rinse cycle until you’ve achieved a shine you can be proud of.

NWA Foodie is a proponent of Bar Keepers Friend. Click image for details.
Two tips:

  1. When I say “generous amount” I mean generous amount.  We found being sparse with the powder translated to more repetitions of the polish cycle and/or spots and scorch marks that lived to see another meal.
  2. You want your dish rag or sponge to make good contact with the surface of the pan. For us, the mesh scrubby sponges just couldn’t get the job done. Let BFK do the scrubbing, you provide the elbow grease. Again, you can do the dishes and tone up your arms. Win-win.

Ready, set, dry!

Line-dryable dishes; oh yes they did. Click image for details.

Really, this shouldn’t take any instruction. Your pans are washed, polished, and rinsed. All that is left is for water to evaporate. My grandmother actually washes all of her dishes by hand then loads them into the dishwasher to dry on the racks. Then she sighs happily about all the modern amenities in homes today. Other people have a drying rack on their counter or, like my mom, spread out a clean towel and artistically arrange the pans that need to air dry.

We, however, have disgustingly hard water. Hard water + air drying = nasty, cloudy spots. I did not polish my pots just to have them develop a case of stainless steel chickenpox. Therefore, we wipe our dishes dry. Before you giggle over the thought of me looking very Betty Draper while drying dishes, I’ll have you know my husband looks very cute standing over the sink sipping a martini and drying pans.

One thought on “Tooling Around: Coming Clean

  1. You can certainly see your enthusiasm within the article you write.

    The arena hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe.
    Always go after your heart.

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