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Correct Cleaning & Sanitizing Procedures for Pots & Pans

Erin Maurer

Kitchen equipment, including pots and pans, commonly face exposure to bacteria, yeast, mold and other items found on uncooked food, which may contribute to food-borne illness. To keep a family healthy, understanding the proper way to clean pots and pans is important.

Pots and pans require a two-part process to remove grime and germs.

Not only must you remove dirt and grime, but sanitizing kitchen equipment also is essential to preserving a family's health.

Proper Cleaning and Sanitation Method

The proper way to clean and sanitize pots and pans is a two-step process that involves cleaning the dishes with a dish detergent. After cleaning, pots and pans must be sanitized with a sanitizing solution. The cleaning step removes dirt and grime while sanitizing removes bacteria and other germs.

Equipment and Materials

To properly clean and sanitize pots and pans at home, only basic kitchen equipment is needed. A homeowner needs a clean dishrag or sponge, a sink, hot water and dish soap. While a dishwasher is effective, properly perform a cleaning and sanitizing procedure is more important.


Begin the cleaning and sanitizing process by filling the sink with hot soapy water. Water between 170 and 180 degrees F is recommended for killing germs, according to the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension Program. Submerge pots and pans, scrubbing them with a clean sponge or dishrag. Once the cleaning is complete, rinse in water hot enough to kill germs to sanitize. Place in a dryer rack to air dry, which lessens bacteria's ability to multiply.

Benefits of Dishwashers

While hand washing procedures will effectively clean and sanitize pots and pans, using a dishwasher is beneficial. A dishwasher automatically performs the correct cleaning and sanitation procedure as it's programmed to complete those specific tasks. Additionally, water between 170 and 180 degrees F is uncomfortable for many people, and dishwashers protect hands from the heat. Dishwashers also include a drying cycle, which properly dries pots and pans in a manner that reduces bacteria multiplication. Read the pot's and pan's manufacturer guidelines as all materials are not dishwasher safe.