You've Been Cleaning Your Stainless Steel Pans The Wrong Way This Whole Time

Stainless steel cookware is a favorite among the pros and home cooks alike. Though safe at high temperatures and sleek to look at, these silver pots and pans may be subject to other high-temp casualties like stuck-on messes. Rather than grabbing your steel wool or doing the age-old "soaking" technique, only to come back to a sink full of dishes, there's a better way to prolong the life of your items while cleaning them with ease. In fact, the technique involves putting your dirty pan back on the burner.

According to Real Simple, once you've placed the food on a plate and the pan is empty, it's time to put it back on the stove to reheat any stuck-on messes. With the burner turned on, wait for the pan to heat back up to a point where a drop of water sizzles when you put it in. Once the pan is at this point, pour a cup of water into the dish. The outlet then recommends grabbing a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape the now-loosened bits of food that may have been burnt on the surface before. From here, let the pan cool and add dish soap to brush off any remaining spots.

For tougher messes, grab the baking soda

If your pans have burnt-on stains that won't budge, this process will still work — you just need an extra ingredient. The New York Times recommends cleaning your stainless steel pans as soon after using them as possible. After you've tried the "cooking" technique listed above and used your wooden utensil to carefully scrape the surface, grab your baking soda for heavy-duty cleaning.

Keeping the bottom of the pan damp, add a layer of baking soda over the stains and mix with water to create a paste, the Times recommends. Let the mixture sit on top of the stain for a few minutes for maximum strength, then rub over it with a scouring sponge. If the spot still won't come out, repeat the process a few times. Just avoid steel wool, which can damage the surface and decrease the longevity of your pans. Furthermore, old, tough stains may require you to boil the baking soda mixture first (per As you boil the mixture, the film should help loosen the stains to a point at which you can easily remove them.

So, when it comes to cleaning your stainless steel, stop, drop, and step away from the steel wool. Follow the steps above for a scratch-less, easy clean.