Tips to Clean Stainless Steel Cookware & How to Remove a Rainbow Stain

I truly love to prepare a healthy home-cooked meal for my family as much as possible, but what I don’t love is the clean-up after the meal is done and everyone else has left the kitchen. A few years ago I got an amazing deal on a beautiful set of Cuisinart stainless steel pots and pans, my first time ever having high quality cookware in my kitchen. While I was, and still am, grateful to have this gorgeous set of pans, they require a bit more love and attention to keep them looking all pretty and shiny. It’s worth it, though, and much easier than you might think! First and foremost, if you are like me and hate to clean up the kitchen all by yourself after a family dinner, it is important to create a positive and fun environment to get yourself through this necessary chore. CRANK UP THE TUNES! I always grab my iPad, bring it with me to the kitchen, and turn on the Pandora music app. Nothing makes work a bit more tolerable than some really great music.

Tips to Clean Stainless Steel Cookware

I have heard people say, on more than one occasion, that they also love their stainless steel pots and pans, but they get frustrated when it comes to cleaning them. The key is to be patient and follow a few simple steps and your cookware will always look like it just came out of the box!

Here’s what one of my pans looked like right after dinner last night:

Dirty pan

Lovely, right? What with all that stuck on goodness that remained from my homemade Spanish Rice. Here’s the thing. If I tried to get that clean right away, I’d get frustrated because it would take forever to scrub everything out of that pan, so the first thing I do is fill the pan with hot, soapy water and set it aside while I get started on cleaning everything else.


How to Clean Stainless Steel Cookware

After about fifteen minutes something truly magical happens. All of the yucky stuff begins to lift away from the pan and I can easily wipe it away with a sponge! The only problem is that then I am often left with a pan that looks like this, especially if anything tomato-based has been prepared.

How to Remove a "Rainbow" Stain from Stainless Steel Pans

 Do have pans that look like this? Have you ever thought, “how the heck do I get rid of that ugly rainbow in the bottom of my beautiful pan?” I have the answer that will literally change your life. I’m not kidding, IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

How to Remove a “Rainbow” Stain in Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

Okay, listen. Sometimes I get really excited about big things in life, like hearing my name called to Come on Down on The Price is Right, but things like that just don’t happen every day so I also get really excited about the little things that make my life easier and my stainless steel pots and pans prettier. And now for my tip that will change your life, like big time. After you scrub and clean a pan and grumble to yourself about how that ugly prism-looking stain seemingly came from out of nowhere, there’s a trick to make it disappear in nearly an instant.

  1. First, I leave enough warm water in the pan just to cover the bottom.
  2. Then I add a splash of white vinegar and allow it to sit for a minute or two.
  3. Finally, I rinse out the pan and dry it and voila! It looks as good as new. I wish I had another picture for you, but I don’t. I promise it works, though. Just use your imagination and envision a shiny, silvery pan that looks at good as the day you purchased it!

Oh, one more thing. If you have more than one pan with the rainbow stain, just follow the steps above, but instead of rinsing out the pan, just transfer the water/vinegar mixture to your other stained pot. Can you believe the secret is something as simple as vinegar, which you probably already have in your kitchen?!?! Truly though, you don’t have to thank me because it is my pleasure to share my expert advice with you. I mean, my head might burst if I kept all that wisdom bottled up inside.




  1. Gloria Armstrong says:

    Well, thought my stainless steel pots& pans were ruined forever. Thank you..????

  2. I have been panicking too, already threw away few pots and noticed my new once are having exactly the same problem. So huge thanks for this, especially because do not have to use any harsh chemicals.
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  3. That worked so well! Thank you =)

  4. THANK YOU…THANK YOU in saving my favorite cooking pans.
    We novice parties appreciate the “help/assistance” you bestow us !

  5. I have always used Cameo cleanser. It’s non-abrasive and specially formulated for stainless steel. My pots look almost new and they’re 8 yrs old. It’s great for removing black burnt on stains from cooking with a gas stove.

  6. I was looking for a way to clean a Cuisinart pot that had a rainbow in the inside of the bottom of the pot. My sister had cooked some cabbage in the said pot. I googled and there was your tip. I tried the warm water and splash of vinegar and guess what it worked. The pot looks new again. Thanks.

  7. Omg! It really worked, I’m so happy

  8. Omg I hope this works….just bought my first stainless steal pot set on Jan2…used the fry pan last night for dinner… Rinsed and wiped it out placed in dishwasher and ran…got up this morning took it out of dishwasher and saw rainbow…was mad about to pack it back up and return but then I read this….plz let it work…updated after…

    • YES….it worked… Ty Ty Ty…hundred times Thank You….

      • Hi Christa! Thank you so much for your initial comment and especially for your update! I’m so very glad this worked for you and that you didn’t have to return your beautiful new pots and pans. Thanks again for stopping by and for taking the time to leave a comment.

  9. Yes, thank you so much! Another site said to use Bar Keeper’s Friend, but the vinegar trick is so much easier! Fabulous!

  10. suzanne says:

    Thank you ,,it Work ,I was happy that it Work with vinegar

  11. Wayne Pettigrew says:

    Hi Cathy,
    Any suggestions for when I get the stainless steel pans over heated or burn a sauce . The challenges to remove a blackened burnt on surface is driving me crazy. I know that chef in a restaurant just say the pan is now seasoned. what If I want pans that look new as the day of purchase . Any suggestions?

  12. I can’t thank you enough just purchased 4steller stainless Steele pans cost£175 used ones and got the rainbow inside I could have cried then I seen your post alls well again thank you .

  13. Mary Coones says:

    My husband purchased my Cuisinart Pots and Pan set in the late 70’s. It is still beautiful and has had much use. It has a 50 year warranty and still looks new. A friend of mine used the small pot to cook a sweet potato. She forgot it and burned it real bad. I am now struggling to get it cleaned. I have burned a number of times but this is the worst. I’m hoping it will come clean. I am using white vinegar and scouring it.

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