Though not as hardy as cast iron, copper, or carbon steel pots and pans, nonstick cookware can last for years with proper care and maintenance. While it’s never a bad idea to consult the manufacturer’s care instructions for your particular pot or pan, here are some additional cleaning guidelines to keep in mind.
Nonstick Cookware Care Dos
- Be sure to allow your pan to cool completely before cleaning. Submerging a hot pan in cold water or even running cool water over hot nonstick cookware can warp a pan, creating an uneven, wonky surface that will heat unevenly. (This applies to all pots and pans, but especially nonstick cookware which is often of lighter-weight construction, and thus, is more prone to warping.)
- Thoroughly clean your pot or pan after use. Merely rinsing or wiping out visible residue will not remove oils from the surface. Lingering residue can oxidize, creating off flavors the next time you cook, or worse, burn onto your pan and become nearlyimpossible to clean off, marring the pan’s appearance and nonstick properties. Once clean, be sure to also wipe your pan dry with a soft cloth before storing.
Nonstick Cookware Care Don’ts
- No matter how tempted you are, don’t use steel wool or other harsh, abrasive cleaning materials or cleansers to wash your nonstick pan. (Even hardier, next-generation nonstick surfaces may scratch if improperly cared for.) Instead, use gentle dishwashing liquid and a soft sponge, cleaning cloth, or gentle scrub brush. If your pan is proving particularly difficult to clean, soak it in warm, soapy water for a couple hours (or even overnight), then make a second attempt at removing the persistent residue. If you’re still having trouble getting the pan clean, a paste of coarse kosher salt and water can be used as a gentle abrasive.
- Be wary of the dishwasher. Avoid the dishwasher entirely if your cookware doesn’t come with claims to be dishwasher safe. And while many nonstick pans are technically dishwasher safe, we highly recommend hand washing with warm soapy water, as it is easy to do—slick nonstick surfaces are a breeze to clean up—and will prolong your pan’s life. Dishwashers spray extremely hot water to sanitize surfaces, which will gradually wear away at the pan’s surface and may even warp the surface of lightweight pans.
Other Nonstick Cookware Cleaning Tips
How to Clean Nonstick Cookware for the First Time
Before using nonstick cookware for the very first time, be sure to wash it: use a dish soap and hot water, rinse well, and dry thoroughly with a cloth or paper towel. You can follow this with a step called “preseasoning”—rubbing the pot or pan with a bit of oil using a disposable paper towel.
How to Clean a Nonstick Pan
- After use, let your pan return to room temperature.
- Rinse your pan with warm water, using a sponge, soft-bristled brush or wet cloth to remove any residue, and a few drops of dishwashing liquid to cut through any remaining grease.
- Rinse off with warm water and towel dry.
What to Do When Your Nonstick Coating is Coming Off
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if your nonstick pan is deeply-scratched, flaking, or no longer nonstick, it is time to replace it. If the coating is flaking off, small amounts may end up in your food, and the pan itself will no longer excel at the task it’s meant to do. Unfortunately, nonstick pans have a shorter lifespan than cast iron, stainless steel, and carbon steel (typically around five years, if properly maintained). If you’re in the market for a new nonstick pot or pan, choose a durable one (we like Zwilling Forte) that checks off all the boxes by being PFOA-free, dishwasher safe, induction compatible and metal utensil-safe.