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10 Eco-friendly Tips for Getting Pots & Pans Clean (Finally)!

Remove Tough Stuck-On Food, Burnt Food, & Grease Using Green Methods


Tired of spending too much time scrubbing your pots and pans? Well, instead of using harsh cleaning chemicals to get the job done, consider some eco-friendly alternatives that work just as well and won’t leave you breathing in harsh fumes or fuming away at how much time you spend cleaning! All natural ingredients, such as ketchup, for example, can help you get the job done right and save the planet while you’re at it. Now that’s green cleaning!

1. Harness the Power of H2O

Water Coming Out of Blue Garden Fountain with Green Ferns in Background
Photo © Karen Peltier
Getting in the habit of simply soaking pots and pans in a little hot water before you clean them often does wonders for easily removing grease and stuck-on food. Plus, it saves you time scrubbing! Finish with a little elbow grease using green dish detergent and an environmentally friendly scrubbing tool, such as one of those mentioned in “Top 10 Eco-Friendly Tools for Scrubbing Dishes, Pots, & Pans Clean.”

2. Battle Stuck-On Foods with Baking Soda

Photo of Economy Size Baking Soda
Photo © Karen Peltier
Shake in a little baking soda or this DIY aromatherapy cleanser to the bottom of pots and pans and scour away. If the stuck on food isn’t budging, add in some vinegar. Let it sit for a while and then get to work scrubbing with a little green dish soap! Note: Don’t use straight baking soda with non-stick cookware since it may scratch the surface. Instead, try using a solution of equal parts water and baking soda for several minutes.

3. Remove Burnt-On Foods with Lime and Salt

Lime Wedges with Salt
Photo © Karen Peltier
Ever burn something in a pan so badly that it seemed destined for the trash bin, or rather, the recycling bin? Well, before giving up on it, try soaking it with a mixture of fresh lime juice and salt for several minutes. Then scrub away with more salt. You’ll be amazed at how easily the burnt-on food lifts away. For more tips, check out "10 Green Tips & Tricks for Cleaning Burnt Stainless Steel Pots & Pans."

4. Clean Stainless Steel Effortlessly

Drop of Dish Soap Going into Stainless Steel Pan Full of Water
Photo © Karen Peltier
Add some water with a touch of green dish soap to your pan and bring it to a boil. Then let it cool a little and clean the pan. You’ll notice that it will cut down dramatically on cleaning time and leave your stainless steel pots and pans sparkly and shiny!

5. Keep Copper Cookware Shining

Photograph of Ketchup Bottle for Cleaning
Photo © Karen Peltier
Slather some ketchup (which works well since it contains vinegar) or a mixture of water, salt, and lemon juice. over copper pots and pans and then rinse well. Buff dry and notice that beautiful, brilliant shine.

6. Wash Iron Pans Earnestly

Use salt to scrub iron pans clean.
Photo © Karen Peltier
The debate over how to clean iron is earnest, so here are three green methods: (1) Scour with coarse salt and then rinse well; (2) Use only water and a green scrubbing tool (but what about rancid oils?); (3) Use hot water and a little dish soap. What there is no debate over is that to prevent rusting, iron pans should be dried thoroughly and then wiped lightly with a vegetable oil, such as sunflower or coconut oil.

7. Properly Remove Stains from Porcelain

Ecover Non-Chlorine Bleach Bottle
Photo © Karen Peltier
Soak your cookware in a mixture of hot water and one of the following: oxygen bleach, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, or vinegar.  Note: Avoid mixing vinegar with chlorine bleach or it will create toxic chlorine gas as About.com Chemistry Guide, Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., explains in her article "Why People Mix Bleach and Vinegar."

8. Use Water for Woks

Water Coming Out of Faucet
Photo © Karen Peltier
To clean your wok and still keep it seasoned, skip the soap and simply use hot water and an ecofriendly scrub brush like a Japanese Tawashi, which is a natural brush made of coir, to scrape away food bits. Dry and then follow with a light oil wiping.

9. Cut Grease with Vinegar

Heinz Distilled White Vinegar
Photo © Karen Peltier
Vinegar is great at breaking down grease on grimy, sticky pots and pans. Simply spray your pans with a shot of an all-purpose vinegar spray. Then wash with green dish detergent. Voilà! No more greasy residue.

10. Soak Up Oil with Baking Soda

Baking Soda Soaks Up Excess Oil
Photo © Karen Peltier
If you have a little too much grease left in your pan, sprinkle in some baking soda. The oils will adhere to it and clumps will form, making for easy disposal in the trash can. You will also prevent future drain clog issues!
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