• Modern Hippie

Easy Clean a Stainless Steel Pan with Water Only

Updated: Nov 4, 2019

Stainless steel is a great option for cooking pans, but can seem a little tricky to clean. For those of us that stay away from Teflon coated non-stick pans for health reasons, stainless steel works well, and can be virtually non-stick, if seasoned and used properly. And cleaning is actually a breeze if you know the right tricks.

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Pan with Water Only

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You will need:

A dirty* stainless steel skillet


A stove

A metal spatula

(Optional) Steel wool scrubber

Directions to Clean Stainless Steel

Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan by about 1/2 inch or 1 cm.

Put the pan on a stove on high temperature.

When the water starts to simmer, use the metal spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan until all the bits are off. They should come off very easily. If they don't, let the water boil longer to loosen the bits before scraping.

To get at the sides above the waterline, bring some of the water up the sides with the spatula then quickly scrape those as well. They too should come clean easily.

When you feel you've gotten the pan as scraped clean as possible, turn off the heat, and rinse out the pan with hot tap water.

At this point you can either call it "clean enough" or scrub it spotless with a bit of warm water and a steel wool scrubber.

Rinse again, and voilà! Clean pan. Easy. Water only, no chemicals, not even any detergent.

Make sure you season it again with oil before using it.

*Did you know that some cooking techniques actually use the caramelized sticky pan bits in the recipe? It's called deglazing, and uses a smaller amount of liquids like wine, broth, vinegar, or water to remove the bits and create an intense, flavorful sauce.

Tips to Avoid Food Sticking to Stainless Steel:

Make sure the pan is heated up before adding your food.

Add enough fat and make sure it also is preheated before adding your food. Don't skimp on the fat - it's good for you and adds flavor!

Don't cook sugary foods in the pan unless you want that caramelization to deglaze later.

Use a properly seasoned pan, and make sure to season it after every cleaning, and after cooking acidic dishes, like marinara sauces and vinegars.

Alternative to Stainless Steel:

I love my cast iron skillets as well, but as my blood iron levels rose too high from using them daily for years and years, I have to use my stainless steel pans more and my cast iron less. But for those without iron issues (or those with low iron), cast iron is awesome and a fantastic alternative to stainless steel or Teflon.


This easy clean stainless steel method works well for cast iron too!

Further reading:

Toxic Teflon

The Ultimate Guide to Cast Iron

Switching to Safer Cookware

Learn How to Cook with Cast Iron

12 of the Best Ways to Get a Toxin Free Kitchen

How Cast Iron Can Get you Unstuck from Non-Stick

#chemicalfreecleaning #cleancastiron #cleanstainlesssteel #deglazestainlesspan #watercleanfryingpan

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