Hard-anodized cookware is everywhere. Brands such as Calphalon and Circulon are masters of this sturdy material. You’d be smart to choose hard-anodized cookware as it’s tough, safe and easy to clean…but let’s get into that later!

If you’ve just welcomed a new hard-anodized cookware item or whole set into your kitchen, you need to know how to clean it. Proper cleaning techniques will preserve the quality of your cookware for longer, so let’s learn how to clean hard-anodized cookware…

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How to clean hard-anodized cookware

Allow to cool

Don’t give in to the temptation to cast your freshly-hot pan into a sink of dishwater or run it under the faucet. Wait until the pan has cooled down considerably before plunging it into the water. This is to protect the pan from warping and disturbing that satisfyingly even surface. Leave it to cool on the stove before cleaning (i.e. load the dishwasher and get the rest of the handwashing done first, then you’ll be good to go).

Rinse

Give your pot or pan a rinse to remove large or loose particles. Use a mild dishwashing detergent to help break down any grease or oils. Calphalon specifies the detergent brand “Dawn” as being one of the best for hard-anodized cookware.

Wipe

Use a soft-bristled brush or sponge to clean your pan with the help of the soapy, hot water. This should be enough to restore your pan to cleanliness, but if you’re having issues with stuck food… 

Soak if need be

For stuck-on or burnt food, don’t be tempted to take to it with a steel wool scrubber or metal utensil. Instead, fill the pot or pan with hot water and leave to soak. This will soften the hardened food so you can gently scrape it off with a soft brush or spatula.

Avoid going down the baking soda paste route. Some cookware materials can stand it, but hard-anodized aluminum should be treated with a little more caution when it comes to the substances you use on it.

It’s generally agreed that the only thing you should use is a mild detergent and that’s all. This is a little controversial because some people do claim that baking soda is totally fine. But I would always try the handy old soaking technique before adding any other substances.

Dry

You can either leave the pot or pan to air dry, or hand dry it to prevent any water spots from forming.

What is hard-anodized cookware?

Hard-anodized cookware is made from aluminum which has been put through the ringer to come out the other side far tougher. The process of hard-anodization is actually pretty cool once you look into it.

The electrochemical process of hard-anodizing results in a super tough surface, often marketed proudly as “harder than stainless steel”. It can withstand super high heats (subject to the non-stick coating, of course) and is non-reactive. But while it won’t chip or dent, it still needs to be treated carefully in the cleaning process, as we’ve learnt.

Brands like Calphalon, Circulon, Anolon and Tefal all have a huge range of hard-anodized cookware with various finishes (i.e. non-stick coatings or stainless steel features).

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What are the benefits of hard-anodized cookware?

Durable: hard-anodized aluminum is harder than stainless steel and resists knocks and dents really well. The electrochemical process builds up the surface to make a super durable cooking surface which won’t chip off into your food.

Non-reactive: the hard surface created during the anodizing process is non-reactive which means it won’t react with acidic foods. When this happens, the metal can find its way into your food.

Stick-resistant: hard-anodized aluminum cookware surfaces are non-stick, even without the usual added layer of non-stick coating.

Heat friendly: hard-anodized aluminum can withstand high heat, and also distributes the heat really evenly across the pan’s surface. This is a big plus for cookware, as hotspots are hard to contend with when trying to get an even result. (This might be altered by any added non-stick coatings, but that’s when the manual comes in handy).

Can I put hard-anodized cookware in the dishwasher?

Well, not really. The reason for this vague answer is that some brands do state that their hard-anodized cookware is dishwasher safe. However, it’s actually commonly advised that hard-anodized cookware should be hand-washed only.

Most hard-anodized cookware is coated with a non-stick coating which should always be cleaned with more caution than you might think. You don’t want to risk damaging the non-stick coating as it can cause chipping, peeling and reduced effectiveness.

The heat, the water pressure and the detergents are all pretty intense when it comes to dishwashers, and we can’t know for certain what they’ll do to a pot or pan till we try it. Once or twice may be fine, but over time it might undermine the effectiveness, quality and aesthetic of hard-anodized cookware.

I think the overall consensus is that while the dishwasher won’t ruin your hard-anodized cookware, it does risk causing wear and tear faster. It might cause tarnishing or damage to the non-stick surface, and you might run into warranty issues too…so it’s best to stick to good old manual washing.

Conclusion

Hard-anodized cookware is tough and has many impressive benefits, but it still needs to be treated with some TLC. If your hard-anodized cookware has been coated with a non-stick coating, you need to take even more care when cleaning.

It really comes down to being gentle and using tried-and-true methods of hand washing and soaking to remove burnt patches. Stick to soft tools and mild soap and you’ll be giving your hard-anodized cookware a long and effective life.

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