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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

Best Sponge for Stainless Steel Cookware



Which sponge will get your dirty stainless steel back to a mirror shine?
Which sponge will get your dirty stainless steel back to a mirror shine?

Stainless steel cookware is one of the best kitchen investments you can make. That being said, you want to make sure it’ll last as long as possible!

One of the most common mistakes that leads to premature damage of stainless steel cookware is improper cleaning.

Avoid this problem by using my favorite sponge for stainless steel cookware! Find it at Amazon.

Conventional advice suggests that stainless steel pots and pans need to be soaked for lengthy periods before being cleaned. This is, in fact, incorrect. Prolonged soaking can lead to stains from hard water, which may ruin the aesthetics of your cookware.

We often need to clean our pots and pans quickly to reuse them. This means getting them under some hot water and giving them a scrub with some dish soap and a sponge. But, in this inflated market of sponges, what’s the best and most suitable sponge to use on a stainless steel piece of cookware?

Things to avoid

Although brown markings can appear on stainless steel pots and pans, you should not use an abrasive sponge to try and remove these stains, as they will scratch the pot or pan. You should use a soft pad sponge, hot water, and a non-abrasive bleach. Steel wool pads may do a good job of removing burnt-on food, but will ultimately damage the surface with frequent use.

Find out what’s the best bleach to clean coffee pots.

Tips on cleaning stainless steel

white kitchen with stainless steel appliances
Don’t forget: the sponges can clean more than stainless steel cookware!

The best way to clean your stainless steel cookware is to soak it, but not for too long, as this will lead to permanent watermarks. Soak it in hot and soapy water just long enough to loosen any burnt-on food.

Add some baking soda to a soft, moistened sponge and lightly scrub the pot. This will remove any remaining dirt while avoiding the scratches that come with the use of a steel wool pad. The baking soda will help remove stains and give your pot a nice shine. Once you’ve scrubbed it thoroughly, rinse in warm water. Dry it immediately with a cloth, or these eco-friendly paper towels, to prevent any lingering water spots or marks.

Also, make sure to allow the cookware to cool down completely before washing it. Submerging a hot stainless steel pot or pan immediately in cold water could cause unsightly warping, which makes the cookware unusable.

If you’re trying to deal with discoloration on your stainless steel pot or pan, you can wash your cookware with vinegar, or cook a high-acid dish in it (like tomato sauce). This discoloration often results from overheating, but it’s relatively easy to get rid of.

You might also want to learn how to use baking soda to clean your oven.

Steel Wool versus Regular Sponges

hand holding soapy sponge
Which kind of sponge is best for cleaning stainless steel cookware?

There are two types of sponges most people typically use for cleaning their cookware: steel wool and regular sponges, typically a combination of an abrasive side and a soft side. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, so let’s clear the air on this debate.

Steel wool, or wire sponges, are usually bundles of fine, flexible threads of steel. They’re the most effective type of cleaning device for the toughest messes, meaning baked or burnt on food. However, many people get concerned that using this type of material can damage their cookware. This is only true if you use it frequently. Hopefully, you don’t have these types of messes too often. As long as you’re not using steel wool as your everyday sponge, it won’t damage your cookware, and it’ll be effective at removing that once-in-a-while mess.

Combination sponges (with both abrasive and soft sides) are obviously more versatile, as they can be used for baked on, tough messes, and for regular cleaning. However, some people find the abrasive side not quite tough enough for some cleaning jobs, especially after a few uses when that material starts to break down. Conveniently, these typically come in packs of 3 or 4, so you can replace them whenever you need.

What people usually forget about is something called a Dobie sponge. This is my personal favorite type of cleaning device because it is versatile enough to handle those tough messes fit for steel wool, but gentle enough for everyday cleaning as well! You can’t go wrong with this type of sponge.

You might also like this post on the best espresso makers.

Recommended sponges for your cookware

There are a number of quality sponges on the market, but they generally gather food debris and deteriorate over the course of a few days, depending on how much washing up you’re doing. You should replace a sponge every week or two for this reason. This can be costly when you are replacing your sponges every week over the course of a year. You need to find a balance between quality and price.

Scotch-Brite Dobie All-Purpose Cleaning Pads are quality sponges that are great for more than just stainless steel surfaces. They are highly absorbent, come in a variety of sizes, and are long-lasting. It’s this durability that makes them the sponge of choice for cleaning stainless steel.

Why use Scotch Brite Dobie Cleaning Pads?

Your pots take quite a beating, so be kind and use non-abrasive sponges to clean them!
Your pots take quite a beating, so be kind and use non-abrasive sponges to clean them!

If you own stainless steel cookware, you’ll no doubt be aware of how often you use them, and how often they require cleaning. A quality Dobie Pad from Scotch-Brite will offer you a single sponge that can be used over and over again. It will last much longer than a cheaper alternative.

As previously mentioned, you should be replacing a sponge once a week or so, because they will deteriorate after a few uses. The quality Scotch-Brite variety may cost more than other brands, but they last longer. In the long run, you’ll be spending less money on new sponges to keep your stainless steel pots and pans clean and shiny with this sponge.

Now that you know the best way to clean them, use that pot to make soup. Here are my picks for immersion blenders.

These sponges come in a variety of colors and sizes. It’s often a good idea to color coordinate your sponges, because of the various bacteria in the kitchen. A chef will color coordinate his chopping boards for meats and vegetables. Likewise, a sponge in the home shouldn’t be used on pots and pans if it has just been scrubbing raw chicken residue off a chopping board.

See the best cutting boards for meat.

They can also be used for other jobs around the house, like cleaning windows or surfaces, making them more versatile than competing brands.

Get that mirror shine!

Used with a non-abrasive bleach, Scotch-Brite sponges mean you’ll have brilliantly shiny stainless steel cookware that looks as good as it did the day you bought it!

You can also try 3M Scotch-Brite Stainless Steel Scouring Pads if you’d rather have a stainless steel brush if you frequently have tough, baked-on messes to tackle. They’re completely rust-proof, so they will last for at least months to come. They’re also ergonomically designed with a ball type shape so they’re easy to hold and won’t hurt your hand as you’re doing the tough scrubbing. This is a great choice if you use a lot of stainless steel of pots, pans, grills, or other tough material in your cooking that needs a deep clean every now and then.

Scotch-Brite Stainless Steel Scrubber, Dish Scrubbers for Cleaning Kitchen and Household, Steel Scrubbers for Cleaning Dishes, 3 Scrubbers

View on Amazon

If you’d rather have a more traditional sponge for everyday cleaning, but that can still handle some tough messes on stainless steel cookware, 3M 223 Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Scour Pads are a great option. Although they’re not made out of stainless steel, they still have a sturdy, durable build. They’re also highly absorbent, which is a major advantage over traditional stainless steel scouring pads. These scouring pads also come in all types of sizes, colors, and patterns to fit into any kitchen. If aesthetics are a factor for you, this is your pick.

3M Scotch-Brite 223 Heavy Duty Scour Pad, 6" X 3.8", 3-Pack

View on Amazon

For more cleaning product reviews, head on over to these posts on the best garbage disposals for septic waste systems and dish soap for baby bottles. You might also like this article on the best oven cleaner. Your kitchen will be sparkling clean and ready to cook delicious cast iron steak and more!

It’s not only the right sponge that protects your stainless steel cookware, you need the right utensils too.

Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Natalie M. and Gail F.

Photo by Cleyder Duque from Pexels

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Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Rose Reinhard

Rose Reinhard is a Thai-American foodie from Chiang Mai, Thailand. She's been a creative writer since she could speak and enjoys making vegetarian/vegan dishes and reading about food science. She claims her air-fryer is the best purchase she’s ever made to date.

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