Consumer Reports shows to how care for your cookware

Whether you're creative with cast iron, a wonder with a wok, or you sizzle with stainless steel, once you're done cooking, it's time to clean the pans! But you have to do it the right way or you could damage them. The experts at Consumer Reports offer cleaning tips to keep all of your cookware in terrific condition.

Consumer Reports says it's not always as easy as soap and water. Overall, the sooner you tend to the mess, the easier it is to clean. But different materials require different types of care.

When it comes to cast iron, a little effort after cooking goes a long way: Rinse with plain water and dry thoroughly. For tough messes, you can add water to the pan, simmer for a minute, then drain the water and wipe the skillet clean. Or scrub the pan with coarse salt and a little water. No matter how you clean it, you want to make sure your cast-iron skillet is dried thoroughly to prevent rust. And once it's dry, rub the cooking surface with a little vegetable oil to keep the pan properly seasoned.

For stainless steel and cookware coated with porcelain enamel, CR says to avoid abrasives and instead use a nylon sponge and some dish detergent. Cleaning stainless steel immediately after you're done using it really does help reduce the chance of stains and water spots building up. You can also use a stainless steel cleaner to remove that rainbowlike discoloration that sometimes happens.

You should have an easier time when it comes to nonstick cookware. Most nonstick fry pans are labeled dishwasher-safe, but CR has found that cleaning them by hand with hot soapy water is a cinch!

You can clean up your bakeware like a pro, too, says CR. It's usually best to simply wash bakeware with detergent and a damp sponge. Soak it in a solution of water and a little baking soda to loosen stubborn deposits. If they remain, remove them with a plastic-edged scraper, not a knife. And avoid steel wool and abrasive cleaners.