How to clean stainless steel pans with vinegar

How to clean stainless steel pans with vinegar

After a long day cooking those nice delicacies, it’s now cleanup time, and they’re not looking as shiny anymore.

And you know, sometimes, they can be a bit stubborn when it comes to cleaning. But don’t worry! You’ve got vinegar in your kitchen, right?

Let’s put that to use and get your pans shining bright like they’re brand new.

How to clean stainless steel pans with vinegar

You don’t just want to pour vinegar onto your pan and hope for the best. That’s not going to get the job done. There are steps you should follow and they’re quite simple. Let’s walk you through how it’s done step by step.

First things first, get some warm water and a little bit of dish soap.

What Giving your stainless steel pan a quick clean before using vinegar looks like

Give your pan a quick clean. This helps to remove any loose bits of food and grease. Don’t stress too much about the stuck-on stuff; that’s what the vinegar is for. Once you’ve done that, rinse it out and dry it off.

Next, pour enough vinegar into the pan to cover the bottom.

If the stains are up the sides, add a bit more. Now, this is important – you want to let it sit for about 15 minutes. That gives the vinegar time to do its thing and start breaking down those tough stains.

Once you’ve let it sit, you have to get a little elbow grease into it.

Take a non-abrasive scrubber – you definitely don’t want to scratch your pans – and start working on those stains. [You can check out the best scrubbers we recommended here] You’ll be surprised at how much easier they are to remove after soaking in the vinegar.

After you’ve scrubbed all the stains, rinse the pan out with warm water. If there are any stubborn spots left, repeat the process.

Finally, to prevent water spots or streaks, you must dry the pan immediately after rinsing. And that’s it! Your stainless steel pans are shiny and clean again. [Also check out our guide on how to clean your pots with baking soda]

Keep in mind that regular cleaning is key. The more you do this, the easier it’ll be to keep your pans looking new. And the best part? It’s all done with something you’ve got right there in your kitchen. Easy-peasy, right?

Is vinegar safe for stainless steel pans?

Many of us often worry that the acidic nature of vinegar could damage the material. But actually, vinegar is safe to use on your stainless steel pans.

It’s a fantastic, natural way to remove stubborn food residue, stains, and even that annoying rainbow discoloration that can sometimes happen when you cook on high heat.

Now, you may have heard some people warning not to use vinegar on stainless steel, and there’s a reason for that.

If vinegar, or any acid, is left on stainless steel for a long period, it could start to corrode the surface. But when we’re cleaning, we’re not leaving it on for hours at a time. We’re talking about a matter of minutes, and then we’re rinsing it off thoroughly. That’s not enough time to cause any damage.

Meanwhile, it’s always a good idea to do a small test on a small area of your pan first, especially if it’s a new brand or type you’ve never used before. That way, you can make sure the vinegar doesn’t cause any unexpected reactions.

Keep in mind that the trick is to rinse your pans well and dry them immediately after cleaning. That way, you’re making sure no vinegar is left behind to sit on the surface.

How long can I leave vinegar on stainless steel?

So, now we’ve established that vinegar is safe for your stainless steel pans, but for how long can you leave vinegar on stainless steel?

Well, while vinegar is a great cleaning agent for stainless steel, it doesn’t mean you can leave it on indefinitely. It may not be strong enough to cause immediate damage, but over time it could start to corrode the stainless steel if left on for too long.

What does ‘too long’ mean, though?

As a rule of thumb, you don’t want to leave vinegar sitting on your stainless steel pans for more than about 15-20 minutes. That’s enough time for the vinegar to work on loosening up food residue and stains without risking damage to the pan.

However, these numbers aren’t set in stone.

Different pans may react differently depending on the exact composition of the stainless steel, how worn they are, and even how concentrated your vinegar is. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s always a good idea to do a small test on your pan first to see how it reacts.

Also, make sure all the vinegar is washed off, and then dry your pan immediately to avoid water spots or streaks.


Cleaning your stainless steel pans with vinegar is a breeze. It’s safe, it’s simple, and it’ll keep your pans looking good as new. You just need to know and follow the golden rules: don’t let the vinegar sit for too long, rinse well, and dry immediately. Now, you can keep cooking up a storm, and leave the cleaning worries to vinegar!

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