How to Clean All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware (Step-by-Step)

How to clean All Clad stainless steel cookware

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In this guide, I’m going to teach you exactly how to clean All-Clad cookware.

You’ll learn:

  • Why you shouldn’t clean All-Clad in the dishwasher
  • How to care for it before, during, and after cooking
  • How to remove stubborn stains, discoloration, and brown spots
  • How to clean a badly burnt pan
  • Preventative measures to minimize sticking, staining, and burning

The methods I share are guaranteed to work, and I have the before and after pictures to prove it.

Let’s get started!


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Is All-Clad Cookware Dishwasher-Safe?

If you’re gazing a pile of dirty pots and pans right now, you might be wondering:

Can I clean All-Clad cookware in the dishwasher?

Technically, yes. Within its user manual and on its website, All-Clad claims that its stainless steel cookware is dishwasher-safe.

Cleaning All Clad in the dishwasher

There are two exceptions—the C4 Copper and Master Chef collections are not dishwasher-safe.

These collections have copper and brushed-aluminum exterior layers that will tarnish in the dishwasher.

Although All-Clad says it’s safe to clean the majority of its cookware in the dishwasher, I recommend always washing it by hand, regardless of the collection.

Here’s why:

  • You can ensure all food particles are completely removed
  • Unintended contact with sharp utensils during a wash cycle could cause scratches
  • Exposure to harsh detergents that could cause the stainless steel exterior to discolor and degrade
  • High heat could potentially melt plastic kitchen tools and transfer the melted material to your cookware

All-Clad is known for its durability. But, if you regularly wash your cookware in the dishwasher, the harsh detergents, high temperatures, and contact with sharp utensils will tarnish and degrade the exterior.

Plus, once you learn the techniques I’m about to share in the next sections, you’ll realize there’s no need to fill up your dishwasher with pots and pans.

If you decide to use the dishwasher on occasion, here are the pre-wash steps you should take:

  • Use a wooden or silicone spatula to gently scrape off large pieces of food while the pan is still warm
  • Use a long-handled dish brush, warm water and a mild detergent such as Dawn to remove smaller, stuck-on food bits
  • Rinse the pan in hot water to remove excess oil
  • Use mild detergents without chlorine, phosphates, or chlorides. A great option is Biokleen Automatic Dish Powder, which you can get on Amazon.
  • Sprinkle a quarter-cup of Borax on the bottom of your dishwasher before running the cycle; it has anti-streaking and spotting agents

Bottom line—your All-Clad stainless steel cookware will get clean and stay intact if you use the dishwasher on occasion, but for everyday cleaning, hands-on attention is a must.

Everyday Cleaning and Care

Knowing how to clean All-Clad starts with how to use All-Clad.

These simple tips on how to care for pans before, during, and after cooking will minimize the time you need to spend scrubbing and keep your pans looking like new.

Before Cooking

Preheat the pot or pan before adding oil.

Why?

If you add the oil first, it’s exposed to heat for longer and is more likely to overheat, break down, and form sticky polymers that will be a pain to remove.

Use a high smoke point oil that can handle high heat cooking without burning. If you use butter, go easy on the heat or use it in combination with a high smoke point oil to prevent it from burning.

It’s important to add enough oil to the pan to prevent food from sticking. All-Clad recommends one to two teaspoons of oil.

During Cooking

The number one rule when cooking with All-Clad: never overheat your pan.

All-Clad stainless steel cookware is fully-clad, which means it’s constructed with a core layer of highly-conductive aluminum sandwiched between two stainless steel exterior layers.

The aluminum core quickly and evenly distributes heat, making it unnecessary to cook with the burners on high.

High-heat is only necessary for boiling.

Another reason to turn the burner down to medium—overheating can cause your pans to form splotchy blue stains that are referred to as heat tint.

Heat Tint on Stainless Steel Cookware
Heat Tint on All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware

As I mentioned in a recent post, when you overheat a stainless steel pan, trace amounts of chromium in the steel form a thick oxidized layer that reflects light at a different wavelength, causing heat tint.

But don’t you need to cook on high heat to sear meat?

No. With All-Clad, you can achieve a perfectly crisp sear on medium heat.

When searing, take a set-it-and-forget-it approach. Leave the meat alone and let your fully-clad All-Clad pan do its job.

As the pan heats up, tiny pores on its surface expand. At first, the meat sinks into those pores and adheres to the surface of the pan.

When you give the meat enough time to sear, the crust forms a barrier, which releases the meat from the cooking surface, allowing you to move it without sticking.

Constant turning and mashing of meat not only displaces juices, but it also increases sticking, making cleaning the pan much more difficult.

Deglazing your pan also helps with loosening food bits for easier cleaning.

Avoid adding salt to your pan until food begins cooking or water is boiling as it may cause small white dots, known as pitting to form.

After Cooking

As soon as your pans have cooled enough to handle, hand wash them with soap and water and dry thoroughly.

All-Clad handles are designed to stay cool on cooktops, but always use caution, especially when you’re cooking in your oven.

If a quick scrub doesn’t remove all the stains, don’t worry. I’ll get into the nitty-gritty of how to tackle tough stains, spots, and discoloration in the next section.

Unless they are designed for nesting (such as the All-Clad D3 Compact collection), store each pot and pan individually.

If space is a challenge, purchase pan protectors to allow nesting without causing damage to the cooking surface or place them in an organizer or on a rack.

Removing Stains, Brown Spots, and Discoloration

In this section, I show you how to transform stained, spotted, and discolored All-Clad pans that look like this:

Brown spots around the All-Clad logo
Brown spots around the All-Clad logo
Stained All-Clad skillet
Stained All-Clad skillet

Into clean, shiny, and pristine pans that look like this:

Clean All-Clad logo
Clean All-Clad logo
Clean All-Clad Skillet
Clean All-Clad Skillet

You might be wondering: how can a stainless steel pan stain?

Well, it’s designed to resist stains. But, hard water, overheating, using harsh cleansers, and food buildup cause changes in the appearance over time.

Additionally, food particles and oil lead to grime on the exterior, around the rivets, and caked in the All-Clad logo.

When it comes to tackling stains, spots, and discoloration on your All-Clad stainless steel cookware, all you need is patience, the right tools, and the proper techniques.

Tools and Products

Let me address the elephant right now. I do not recommend chemical solutions for removing stains and grime, so put the oven cleaner away.

Remember, you’ll be cooking food, and there’s no guarantee that those chemicals won’t be left behind after cleaning.

Below is my recommended list of cleaning products and tools for your All-Clad stainless steel, but they work on any high-quality stainless steel cookware:

  • Bar Keeper’s Friend is a tried and true standard, and a must-have product if you own All-Clad. In All-Clad’s FAQ documents, Bar Keepers Friend is the one product the company consistently recommends. It comes in liquid or powdered cleanser, and it’s fantastic.
Bar Keepers Friend
Bar Keepers Friend (see on Amazon)

Techniques

There’s more than one way to remove stains, discoloration, and brown spots from All-Clad cookware.

But, in my experience, these are the best performing restorative techniques.

Keep in mind; sometimes, you need a combination of techniques to get the job done.

Soaking the Pan in a Cleansing Mixture:

  1. Sprinkle your powdered cleansing agent such as Bar Keeper’s Friend, baking soda, or cream of tartar across the surface of the pan.
  2. Add enough hot water to the pan to create a paste-like consistency.
  3. Soak at least 30 minutes and then use a non-abrasive sponge or brush to scrub the pan.
  4. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
Soaking All-Clad in a cleansing mixture
Soaking All-Clad in a cleansing mixture

Buffing a Dry Pan:

  1. Cover the surface of the dry pan with your powdered cleansing agent.
  2. Take a non-abrasive cloth and buff the interior from the center outward.
  3. Rinse the pan and dry thoroughly.
Buffing a dry All-Clad pan
Buffing a dry All-Clad pan

Scrubbing a Wet Pan:

  1. Using hot, soapy water, gently scrub with a non-abrasive sponge or brush in a circular motion.
  2. Rinse and dry the pan thoroughly.
Scrubbing All-Clad with soap and water
Scrubbing All-Clad with soap and water

Boiling a Cleansing Mixture:

  1. Bring a mixture of powdered cleanser and water to boil in a pan and allow it to simmer for about 30 minutes, adding water as needed.
  2. Pour out the mixture, rinse, and scrub the pan with a non-abrasive sponge or brush.
  3. Dry thoroughly.
  4. See the section of this article on how to clean a burnt pan for more detailed information.

Wiping the Pan with a Cleansing Agent:

  1. Dip a sponge in fresh lemon juice or white vinegar and simply wipe the liquid across the pan to remove stains.
  2. Finish up with a quick wash in warm or hot soapy water and dry thoroughly to eliminate streaks.

Rubbing the Surface with Half of a Lemon:

  1. Cut a lemon in half and rub directly on the pan. You can also sprinkle in baking soda or cream of tartar first, and then use the lemon as a scrubber.
  2. Rinse with water and dry thoroughly.

Making a Paste:

  1. Try using Bar Keeper’s friend or make a paste of equal parts of mild dish soap and baking soda, baking soda and vinegar, or even baking soda and water.
  2. Apply the paste to the surface and use a non-abrasive sponge or brush to scrub the affected areas.
  3. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Tackling Streaks:

  1. Dip a sponge in club soda and rub it on the surface.
  2. Then, dry thoroughly.

Concentrating on Hard to Reach Areas:

  1. To get the grime that settles around rivets or the All-Clad logo, try using an old toothbrush and a toothpick and a powdered cleaner like Bon Ami or make a paste with a tablespoon of baking soda and teaspoon of white vinegar.
  2. Work the toothbrush and toothpick around the affected areas until the grime is removed.
Cleaning All-Clad cookware with a toothbrush
Cleaning All-Clad cookware with a toothbrush

Boiling Your Entire Pan in Baking Soda and Water:

  1. Choose a pot large enough for you to submerge your entire pan. Roasters or large stock pots work best.
  2. Add water to cover the pan and a half-cup of baking soda.
  3. Place the pan in the water and bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15 to 30 minutes.
  4. Be careful removing the pan from the water.
  5. Give it a good scrub while the pan is still hot with more baking soda and a non-abrasive, heat resistant brush.

Removing Water Stains:

Hard water has high levels of calcium, and regular exposure can result in white stains on your stainless steel. If your water supply has a high iron content, it may give your pans a reddish hue.

No matter the color of your stains, I’ve found this method works best:

  1. Add three parts water and one part white vinegar to your pot or pan.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil, remove from heat and let it cool completely.
  3. Pour out the mixture, wash the pan with hot water and a mild detergent.
  4. Dry the pan completely with a lint-free, absorbent towel.

Removing Brown Spots:

If you have brown spots on your All-Clad stainless steel cookware, you likely need to remove some film or grime to expose the luster of your pans underneath.

Removing brown spots on All-Clad
Removing brown spots on All-Clad

Below is the best method:

  1. Scrub the pan with hot soapy water. Depending on how long the spots have been there, you might need to apply significant pressure and scrub for several minutes.
  2. Rinse, then dry completely with a lint-free towel.
  3. Sprinkle flour (yes, baking flour) across the dry pan.
  4. Use a lint-free cloth or heavy-duty paper towel to buff the flour across the pan, using circular motions.
  5. Rinse and dry the pan thoroughly.

Cleaning Discoloration:

For general discoloration and darkening throughout your pan, try cleaning it with baking soda and water. Here’s how:

  1. Sprinkle a half-cup of baking soda in your pan.
  2. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.
  3. Let the pan sit for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Scrub the baking soda paste around the pan using a circular motion.
  5. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Cleaning a Burnt Pan

It can be a scary moment when you realize that you’ve overheated and scorched your favorite All-Clad pan.

You’ve spent a boatload of money on your All-Clad pan, and now you’re wondering whether you’ve ruined it for good.

It’s true, burnt oil and food particles cause some of the toughest stains to remove. But, the good news—you’re pan is not ruined. Not even close.

In most cases, the techniques I described in the previous section will do the trick. But if your pan is really scorched, take your time and use heat to attack the issue.

My preferred method here? Boiling and scrubbing.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Cover the entire surface of the pan with liquid. You can use water, white vinegar, or water mixed with baking soda or cream of tartar. Add enough liquid to reach all of the areas that need restoration.
  2. Bring your mixture to a boil and then turn down the heat and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes. Please note: boiling vinegar is not a pleasant smell, so keep the area well ventilated.
  3. Rinse out the pan with hot water and then use a non-abrasive sponge or brush to scrub the pan.
  4. Repeat, if necessary.

You can also try a baking soda and vinegar mixture that will sit on the affected area for a bit so you can let it fizz and penetrate the stains and then scrub it off (elbow grease required).

Polishing

After you’ve cleaned your All-Clad stainless steel cookware, you can further restore its original beauty with polish.

Polishing is a good idea, especially before hosting an event (like Thanksgiving) at your home since your guests are likely to see the cookware.

To polish your stainless steel pots and pans, use a polishing product such as All-Clad Cookware Cleaner and Polish, Brasso, or Bar Keeper’s Friend Polish (this product has a finer powder than the all-purpose cleaner).

Apply the polish according to product directions and buff to restore the sheen.

You may also find that the cleaning techniques used in this article are sufficient for restoring the luster to your pots and pans.

If so, simply use a dry, lint-free cloth to buff the cookware by rubbing the cloth back and forth across the surface.

Preventative Measures

I hope these tips have been helpful as you work on restoring your All-Clad pots and pans to their original beauty.

To wrap up, I want to leave you with some tips to minimize sticking food, burning, and staining:

  • Always preheat your pan before adding oil.
  • Make sure the oil is hot before adding your food, or the food will stick to the pan. Here’s a video to show you how to make sure your oil is hot but not too hot.
  • Only use oils with a high smoke point, which are less likely to burn.
  • Allow your meat to come to room temperature before cooking; avoid placing cold meat in a hot pan.
  • Unless boiling, avoid cooking on high heat.
  • Make sure the interior surface of your pan is clean before cooking.

All-Clad also recommends these everyday cleaning tips for stainless steel cookware to keep your pans looking good:

  • Avoid sharp temperature changes such as placing a hot pan under cold water as this may cause warping.
  • Rinse pans with warm or hot water after use.
  • Use mild detergents without chlorine, phosphates, or chlorides.
  • Immerse pan in warm water and use a long-handle nylon brush and mild detergent to gently scrub the pan in a circular motion from the center and outward.
  • Dry pan completely after washing to prevent water spots.
  • Use nylon scrubbers on the interior and a sponge or soft, lint-free cloth on the exterior
  • Don’t use abrasive cleansers, steel wool, or steel scouring pads.

Did these tips help you? Which method do you find to work best? Please comment below and let me know!

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