How to Clean Hard Anodized Cookware

anodized cookware

Hard anodized aluminum is one of the most popular cookware materials in the world, for good reason. It’s safe, durable, and easy to care for. While it’s important to use gentle cleaning methods on hard anodized cookware, it is not as delicate as many nonstick options, and can last for many years. Let’s look at how to clean hard anodized cookware.

Hard anodized aluminum is an excellent material for cookware. It is usually made with aluminum, which is a lightweight, strong, affordable metal. The aluminum is then anodized, which means it is immersed in a chemical solution and an electrical current is applied to the solution, causing oxides to bond with the surface of the aluminum.

Anodizing makes the aluminum more corrosion-resistant, stronger, and prevents it from reacting to acidic foods. Hard anodized aluminum is as strong as stainless steel, with a surface that is less prone to sticking (although it is not usually nonstick, unless it has an additional nonstick coating).

As a result, hard anodized cookware has a number of advantages:

Lightweight

Pots and pans that are lighter in weight are easier to use and handle than large, heavy ones

Heat Conductive

Pots and pans that are lighter in weight are easier to use and handle than large, heavy ones

Durable

Hard anodized cookware is hard and durable, resistant to chipping or scratching.

Non-Reactive

Some metal cookware reacts to acidic foods like tomato or lemon juices, but anodizing prevents these reactions.

It’s important to remember that not all hard anodized cookware is made in the same way, and many companies also layer other materials into their pots and pans. This means that some hard anodized cookware will be more nonstick than others, or require different utensils, heat levels, or cleaning methods.

It’s also important to read the manufacturer’s recommendations in the owner’s manual or instructions, not just what is said in the advertisement.

For example, some companies will claim their cookware is dishwasher safe, but then recommend hand washing, or claim that you can use metal cooking utensils, but recommend wood or silicone. Following these recommendations will help your cookware perform better and last longer.

How NOT to Clean Hard Anodized Cookware

As mentioned above, it’s always important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning your hard anodized cookware. Different anodizing methods create different properties in the pan, and your pan may also have additional layers or coatings that change how it should be cleaned and cared for.

These are general instructions, but your pan may have specific recommendations. As a general rule, here are some guidelines for what to avoid when cleaning hard anodized cookware:

Do Not Use a Dishwasher

Dishwashing detergents can discolor the cookware and damage its surface. Typically, even if anodized cookware is “dishwasher safe,” manufacturer’s recommend hand washing to prolong the life of your cookware.

Do Not Use Harsh Scrubbers Like Steel Wool

Anodized cookware can scratch or scrape, which reduces any nonstick properties, and cannot be repaired. Use gentle sponges and dish clothes only.

Do Not Use Abrasive Cleaning Agents

Some of the most effective cleaners for removing cooked-on, burnt food, are abrasive scouring agents. These should never be used on hard anodized cookware, because the surface will scratch. Choose gentle, nonabrasive cleaners instead, and avoid cleaners with bleach or acidic ingredients. 

How to Clean Brand New Hard Anodized Cookware

If you have just removed your cookware from the packaging, follow these steps to clean it for the first time:

  1. Remove any stickers or labels that may be on the cookware. Peel up the stickers gently, using a fingernail or a nonmetal utensil. If any residue remains, you may remove it by gently rubbing it with coconut oil.
  2. Wash the cookware. Give the cookware a quick wash in warm water with mild soap.
  3. Dry with a towel.

Season Your New Hard Anodized Cookware

While seasoning isn’t strictly necessary, seasoning hard anodized cookware helps to prevent food from sticking to your pans, and prepares your cookware for first use.

To season a hard anodized pan, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the new pan is clean and dry.
  2. Place the pan on the cooktop and add any kind of cooking oil.
  3. Using a cloth or sponge, spread the oil around the inner surface of the pan, leaving a layer on the entire inside of the pan.
  4. Turn the cooktop up to high heat.
  5. Allow the oiled pan to heat until the oil begins to produce wisps of smoke.
  6. Turn the cooktop off and remove the pan from the heat.
  7. Allow the pan to cool to room temperature.
  8. Use a paper towel and wipe away any excess oil.
  9. Store the pan until you are ready to cook with it.

After seasoning, clean the pan with warm water only. If soap or detergent is used, you may need to season it again.

To prepare a hard anodized pot for its first use:

  1. Fill the pot with water and place it on the cooktop.
  2. Bring the water to a hard boil and let it boil for 30 minutes.
  3. Let the water cool.
  4. If the water is discolored, discard and repeat the process.
  5. Store the pot until you are ready to cook in it.

How to Clean Burnt or Sticky Food from a Hard Anodized Pan

If your hard anodized pan has debris that is tougher to remove, you may need to wash it with soap, and then re-season it after washing and drying. Follow these steps:

  1. First, clean the pan with warm water and mild dishwashing soap.
  2. If you have spots that need scrubbing, use a gentle sponge, cloth, or nylon pad to scrub.
  3. If your pan is stained, or still has troublesome spots, make a paste of cream of tartar and water.
  4. Apply the paste to the inside of your pan and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Use a soft sponge to scrub away the paste and any food residue.
  6. Wash the pan again with mild soap and dry it.

How to Clean Hard Anodized Pans

If you have seasoned your pans and want to preserve the seasoning, follow these steps:

  1. Immediately after cooking, use a wooden or silicone utensil to sweep any food debris out of the pan and discard it.
  2. Allow the pan to cool until it is just warm.
  3. Use a paper towel to wipe the inside of the pan, removing food debris and residue.
  4. Allow the pan to cool completely.
  5. Rinse the pan in warm water, using a sponge and mild soap to wipe down the handle and bottom of the pan. Do not use soap on the inside cooking surface of the pan.
  6. Dry the pan with a towel.
  7. Store it until its next use.

How to Clean Hard Anodized Pots

  1. Hand wash hard anodized pots using mild soap and warm water.
  2. If you have spots that need scrubbing, use a gentle sponge, cloth, or nylon pad to scrub.
  3. Rinse and dry the pot.

How to Clean Burnt or Sticky Food from a Hard Anodized Pot

If your hard anodized pot has food residue, stains, or is tough to clean, follow these steps:

  1. Fill the pot with a solution of ½ vinegar and ½ water.
  2. Place the pot on the cooktop and bring it to a simmer or low boil.
  3. Turn off the heat.
  4. Cover the pot and allow it to cool.
  5. After 20-30 minutes, empty the pot.
  6. Scrub it with mild soap and a gentle sponge, cloth, or pad.
  7. Rinse and dry the pot.

How to Clean the Outside of Hard Anodized Cookware

When cleaning the inside of your cookware, you should always use your mild soap and gentle sponge to clean the handle and the outside and bottom of the pot as well. However, the outside of a pot may build up stains and residue that is tough to clean. If the outside of your hard anodized cookware has become stained or coated with residue, you can clean it with a paste of baking soda and water.

For tougher stains, the fastest solution is to use Barkeeper’s Friend Cookware Formula to restore shine and polish. Barkeeper’s Friend should never be used on the inside cooking surface of hard anodized cookware but is a great way to clean and polish the outside.

Conclusion

Hard anodized cookware is a great solution for the affordable, durable, nonstick, easy to clean cookware that most people are looking for.

 While it isn’t dishwasher safe, it’s not that hard to clean, provided that you use gentle cleansers and take your time. Keeping a hard anodized pan well-seasoned makes it nonstick and even easier to clean, so it’s a great solution for cooking tough, sticky foods.

Drying your cookware after washing preserves seasoning, prevents water spots, and prolongs the life of your cookware, so it’s always a good idea to dry it gently with a towel before putting it away.

With proper care, high quality hard anodized cookware can last for many years, making it a great investment in your time and money.

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