If you are hosting this Christmas, more than likely your guests will either help you in the kitchen, or at least watch you cook. You chat together over chopping up the vegetables and then, you bring out your stained, dirty-looking cookware. Your guest visibly cringes but quickly covers up her reaction and continues the conversation. At least, that is how the scenario plays out in my head. Let's prevent any judgement. Often we neglect these guys and they take an absolute beating, so let's give them a deep clean.
For the inside of the pot/pan, all you need is -
a few drops of dish soap
2 tablespoons baking soda
cleaning toothbrush/double-sided sponge
For stainless steel cookware: To start, add a few drops of dish soap to the dirty pan. Next, you'll need to add 1T of baking soda and fill the pan ¼ of the way with water. Put the pan on high and let it simmer for a while. Once the pot has simmered for a few minutes, pour the hot liquid down the drain. BE CAREFUL! The pot will be very hot. Add another tablespoon of baking soda to the pan and use either the cleaning toothbrush or the double-sided sponge to scrape away stuck on grease. Rinse with water and enjoy your sparkly clean pan!
For a casserole dish: Put it in the oven for a few minutes until it starts to simmer. The heat will speed up the process of breaking down the cooked on dirt.
For the outside (burnt bottom) of the pot/pan, all you do is make a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water, and leave it on the bottom of the pan for about 10 minutes, then scrub with a non-scratch sponge. Most marks should come off and some elbow grease is required here, but the results are nice on both the stainless steel and cast iron pan bottoms.
For really, really burnt on stains, you may need Barkeeper's Friend. Follow the instructions and check your cookware care guide, but I applied a paste of BKF to the bottom of the pan (1 part water, 3 parts Barkeeper's Friend), and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then, took the non-scratch sponge and without really even trying, scrubbed. The stains lifted off beautifully.
How to Organise Your Pots and Pans
There are so many variables to what Pots and Pans you have and what your storage receptacle is like (drawer vs cupboard vs shelf). It is difficult for me to provide advice here.
But what I can suggest, is to declutter. We upgraded out pots and pans and for a few years, kept the old set. Why? Well, partly because we were hoping to use them camping but for the once-a-year trip we took, but is it really worth the prime kitchen real estate? We didn't think so and once a wind storm shredded our tent, we gave up camping anyway!
If you're unsure about decluttering your cookware, put what you think you might not need in a box for a month, or until after Christmas. If you don't use it over this time, let it go.
Pro Tip: Whatever your pots and pans sit on, put drawer liner down first.