How to Clean Dirty Pan Bottoms

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Dear Home-ec 101,

I hang pans up above the stove and cruddy looking, stained bottoms look bad.

I bought two new shiny ones and the smaller one looks like heck after
just one run through the dishwasher. The packaging did NOT say to avoid
the dishwasher so what happened? It said it was “professional grade”
with non-stick coating and 3004 aluminum alloy bottoms with cast
stainless steel handles. Any suggestion on how to restore that shiny look?

A buddy suggested I just hang them with the non-stick surface showing.

Chapped in Charleston

Heather says:

Unfortunately some pans require handwashing. Aluminum alloys will oxidize and eventually pit. This can be a big problem if you use a smooth top stove as it will reduce the contact surface and create uneven heating.

hanging frying pans As far as returning the shine, you had me stumped at first and then I thought to ask my husband who is a bit of a car nut. (He likes shiny things.) According to him, the answer is surprisingly easy. Find some jeweler’s rouge and mineral oil. Crumble a tablespoon or two of the jeweler’s rouge and mix with enough mineral oil to give the consistency of dish soap. Wipe onto the pan with a clean rag, wait until it turns black, then remove with a soft lint free cloth. You may have to apply a second coat, but this should restore the shine to your pans. And dear, don’t chuck those pans into the dishwasher again.

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4 thoughts on “How to Clean Dirty Pan Bottoms”

  1. Hi… love the blog by the way.

    I also “display” my pots and pans by necessity in my small kitchen. I invested in quality stainless (no nonstick allowed because of its adverse effects on the pet birds), and its still shining after over 5 years.

    I would suggest a) never put them in the dishwasher… many dish washing detergents have phosphates that can etch your fine glassware and your cookware b)hand wash (right away!) with regular dish washing liquid and a NON ABRASIVE sponge (Dobie pads were suggested by Calphalon but any regular sponge works also), and c) then use Your friend and mine… Barkeeper’s friend will work wonders. just sprinkle it on, add enough water to make it soupy, and use the same soft sponge. For stubborn or cooked on stains add a little extra water and let the solution work for a few minutes (though leaving the acid in Barkeeper’s friend too long will also cause a sort of etching).

    One other thing I’ve noticed on the bottom of pans, which could possibly be part of the problem, is that if you have hard water, and you heat the pan while the bottom is wet, the minerals will be left when the water dries leaving brown or white stains on the bottom. These also usually require Barkeeper’s friend to remove.

  2. I have a pot that I have burned the heck out of (repeatedly) on my flat stove [it is really because I can not keep straight which knob goes to which burner!] The INSIDE bottom of the pot looked horrible. I usually do pretty well on the outside bottom…go figure. Anyway, I got really tired of it one day and rummaged around in the cleanser cabinet. I grabbed the bottle of stuff that I use to clean the flat stove. It worked great! I rubbed it around for a minute to coat the entire bottom. I then let it sit for awhile. When I came back to it and scrubbed it a little with the sponge…voila! Clean pot! Yea!

  3. As I read the post my first throught was “Bar Keepers Friend”.  I am still devoted to Bon Ami for keeping my stainless steel pans shinny without scratching them, but when it comes to the bottom of the pan use the “Friend”.


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