How To Clean Discolored Stainless Steel Pots

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Stainless steel pots are one of the most popular choices when it comes to pans. They are great as they are able to maintain heat when you are cooking. Our stainless steel pots and pans do a lot for us, which is why they deserve to be properly looked after. 

One thing most people don’t realize is that stainless steel pots and pans need to be cared for properly. Otherwise, you’ll start to notice that your pots do not look as good as they once did. In fact, your stainless steel pots will become discolored. 

If your stainless steel pots are already showing signs of discoloration, then you’ve come to the right place for a solution. In this guide, we are going to walk you through the steps to take so you know how to clean discolored stainless steel pots. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are Your Stainless Steel Pots Discolored?

Washing your stainless steel pots and finding an odd stain at the bottom can be quite confusing. Especially, since that stain looks a bit like an oil spill with all the colors in it.
What is worse, is that no matter how hard you wash your pot, this color doesn’t disappear. This is because your stainless steel pot is now discolored. 
So, why does this happen? Well, science has the answer. Stainless steel pots are known for not rusting and this is due to them containing chromium. Chromium is a hard metal that is known for having a high resistance to corrosion. 
However, when you mix chromium and oxygen together it results in a rainbow pattern. So, when chromium is mixed with oxygen it forms a protective layer on your pain. Though, as you heat up the pan the protective layer thickens and you end up with that rainbow pattern. The good news is that this layer is completely safe, but we understand that you want to get rid of it. 

How To Remove The Rainbow Discoloration

There are a few ways you can remove discoloration from your stainless steel pots. We are going to walk you through two methods that work to get rid of any discoloration and stains. 

Method One: Using Vinegar

In the cleaning world, vinegar is a lifesaver. Vinegar is an incredibly efficient solution for cleaning things that have stains or are discolored. Using vinegar for cleaning stainless steel pots is no exception. 

Vinegar works to remove the rainbow discoloration and stains from your stainless steel pot as the acidity of the vinegar breaks down the thickened layer. 

In order to remove the rainbow discoloration stains from your stainless steel pot, you need to dilute some white vinegar with water. Then with this diluted vinegar solution, you want to wash the pan.

To do this, use a sponge that is not abrasive and scrub the pot. It is important not to use an abrasive scrub as it will scratch the surface of your pot.

After you have scrubbed the stainless steel pot entirely with the vinegar solution, you can rinse the pot with soapy water. Then go ahead and dry the stainless steel pot. This method should leave your stainless steel pot looking clean and silvery. 

Vinegar can also be used to help remove any white calcium stains that have built up in your stainless steel pot. If this is a problem you are having, then mix three parts of water with one part of vinegar. 

When you have mixed this solution, you need to bring it to a boil in the stainless steel pot with the calcium stains. Let the mixture cool down completely before removing it from the stainless steel pot. Then wash the stainless steel pot and your white calcium stains should be removed. 

Method Two: Tomato Sauce

Many people are skeptical about tomato sauce to clean with. After all, it is one of the things we tend to find ourselves trying to remove from our clothes. 

However, tomato sauce can actually help with removing stains and discoloration from stainless steel pots. In the same way that the acidity from vinegar breaks down the thickened layer, the acidity from the tomato sauce does the same. 

The first thing you need to do to use tomato sauce to remove discoloration is to fill the stainless steel pot with the tomato sauce. Make sure that all of the areas where this is discoloration are completely covered by the tomato sauce. 

Then heat the tomato sauce until it is gently simmering. You want to keep it simmering for around 10 minutes. If the sauce evaporates, add some water to it. 

Finally, remove the tomato sauce from the pan and wash it as you normally would. Make sure to gently scrub the areas where the discoloration was occurring. 

How To Remove Burn Marks

Since keeping your stainless steel pots clean is so important, here are some tips on how you can remove burn marks from the pot. 

Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is another holy grail in the cleaning community. All you need to do is pour baking soda into a dry pan. You can mix the baking soda with water if you would prefer it to be a paste.

Then scrub the baking soda into the pan. You should be able to see the burn marks being removed. Wash the pan as you normally would. 

If the burn marks are particularly tricky to remove, add dish soap to the baking soda. Then leave this paste on the areas that are affected for a few hours. 


Discoloration can ruin the way our stainless steel pots look. They make them appear as though they are dirty, even when washed.

The methods above are effective in removing discoloration and stains on stainless steel pots. If the discoloration is particularly bad, it might require trying these methods multiple times. 

We hope this guide has helped you understand how to clean discolored stainless steel pots. Please share this information with others who might be interested.

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