I know this question has been asked before in some form or another, but I can't seem to find a definitive answer. I've looked on SA, chowhound, martha stewart, about.com, etc., and answers seem to vary. Answers that I've seen vary from using vinegar to washing using special stainless steel soaps (which I'm not very keen on using) to only using soft sponges and hot water.

The one thing I always do is wash my stainless steel with warm soapy water and a soft sponge. If there's burned food stuck on the cookware, I scrape it off with a wood pot scraper (lightly, of course). And I always dry with a soft cloth immediately after washing. Yet I still get stains!

I'd like to get a general consensus on how to prevent those white and rainbow colored stains as well as minimizing corrosion.

8 Answers 8


These are just mineral (calcium) stains from your water source. They will not affect the stainless steel.

The quickest way to clean stainless steel from burnt on oil, food, and water stains is to use a polyprop/ester scouring pad (e.g. 3M's branded as Scotch-Brite).

Use a little liquid dish wash soap, a poly scourer pad, and a generous serve of elbow grease. It's cheaper than going to the gym :-)

Stainless steel is a hardy material, and does not need delicate handling.

  • 2
    I've read (from multiple sources) that that using a scouring pad is one thing you should not do to stainless steel cookware.
    – MarkE
    Jul 29, 2013 at 3:23
  • 4
    For what reason? Stainless steel is a very hard material. I have used them on pots and pans for more than 40 years, not seen any problems?
    – TFD
    Jul 29, 2013 at 10:02
  • I second this. Stainless steel is the least problematic material for pots and pans, that's why commercial kitchens use them. If you don't buy the absolute cheapest ones, they may well last 20 years with some care.
    – John Doe
    May 28, 2020 at 11:20

For the rainbow colored stains and white stains, try a drop or two of lemon juice, its mildly acidic and as far as I know doesnt damage stainless steel.



I used Colgate or any brand toothpaste and a cotton ball scrubbed, then scrubbed with the rough side of a soapy sponge BINGO it did the trick..nice and clean!!!


I dont't know how to prevent those white stains but i've taken my stainless steel pots through the wringer and baking soda, tiny bit of dish soap and a soft sponge always gets them sparkling clean.


I can't say much more than Lagostina USA does themselves on this subject. They don't exactly mention the rainbow effect, which I find is caused by higher heats on the pan. I have a shaker of the Lagostina SS cleaner and use it sometimes to clean the pans up. I don't suspect that I'll have to do that as much now that I have switched to using an induction hob. (Once I learn what settings to use!)


I learned a trick from my mother many many years ago to clean stuck or burnt on food from stainless steel. When done cooking or burning immediately pour about two cups of hot, not cold, water into the pan and allow to simmer a minute or two. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula and the food will come off. Some burned food may take a little longer to come off but letting the water simmer a little longer usually does the trick, then clean as usual. Be careful of the steam when pouring the water into the hot pan.

  • Welcome Nicksmom - Your post doesn't really answer the original question. Is there anything you could add that applies to the staining?
    – Debbie M.
    Nov 29, 2015 at 16:19

Cooking with a high-quality piece of stainless steel cookware can be a little... unnerving. There are also scale-removing products on the market (like http://www.thejuzz.com/Stainless-Steel-Cookware/), but you'd want to check to be sure they won't damage your cookware before using them.


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