How to Clean and Maintain Non-Stick Cookware

Nonstick pans are designed to prevent food and other materials from adhering to a cooking surface, helping reduce oil usage in low-calorie recipes and making life easier for kitchen staff to prepare nutritious meals and clean their dishes afterwards.

Effective use of nonstick pans extends their longevity. Instead of using harsh scouring pads or metal scrubbers which could damage their coatings, opt for using soft bristle brushes with hot water to wash your pan.


Nonstick pans are kitchen workhorses that make egg scrambling, fish frying and pancake flipping effortless. When used properly and cleaned regularly they can last years; their non-stick surface keeps food and other substances from adhering to it and sticking.

To keep your pans in tip-top condition, please follow these general guidelines for cooking, cleaning and storing them. Also be sure to refer back to manufacturer recommendations for specific products.

Before using a brand-new nonstick pan, be sure to wash it with hot soapy water to rid yourself of oils and residue that have collected during manufacturing or shipping. Rinse and dry afterward before preseasoning by applying an even layer of oil using paper towel or cloth.

Metal utensils should not be used with nonstick pans as they can scratch the Teflon surface, damaging its nonstick qualities over time. Instead, choose plastic, bamboo or silicone utensils; never use metal scouring pads or scrubbers, which could further compromise nonstick properties and cause further disrepair of nonstick surface.

Nonstick coatings can also be damaged by overheating. To preserve its surface and prevent sudden temperature shifts from warping your pan, always use medium or low settings when cooking nonstick foods and try not to expose sudden temperature shifts; sudden temperature changes could warp it and prevent its even distribution of heat in future uses.

Good Housekeeping advises caution with high heat settings because this can cause nonstick coatings to release toxic fumes, or chip or flake off – signs it’s time for an upgrade!

Nonstick coatings are typically constructed of polytetrafluoroethylene, commonly referred to as PTFE, which has earned itself a bad rap due to its association with perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA.

Major manufacturers were required by the Environmental Protection Agency to phase out PFOA-containing pans from production lines; many currently available nonstick pans on sale do not contain it – however, when buying used nonstick pans from discount stores it could contain hazardous levels of this chemical and present a health risk.


Nonstick cookware can help make dishes lighter and healthier by cutting back on fat content in recipes, but improper care in cleaning and storage could damage it quickly – saving both time and money in maintenance costs for your staff. By following certain techniques for maintaining this type of pans, they should last much longer in service to save both staff time and money!

At home, always use warm soapy water when cleaning nonstick pans. Submerging hot pans into cold water may warp their coating and render it useless, so be careful when doing this. Use sponges or cloths rather than steel wool or any abrasive materials when cleaning cookware; if necessary use nonabrasive metal cleaners instead.

After every use, be sure to thoroughly rinse and dry your pans. Nonstick surfaces are vulnerable to moisture build-up and must be completely dried out before being reused again. To speed up this process and make it simpler, a towel or paper napkin can help cover your pans as they cool.

Avoid steel wool and scouring pads on nonstick cookware to prevent them from scratching the surface, which makes cleaning more challenging and may eventually cause its nonstick coating to wear away. Instead, opt for nonabrasive nylon scrubbers.

Avoid dishwashing liquid that contains bleach or chlorine as this will compromise its nonstick coating, causing it to become dull and less efficient over time. Instead, opt for mild detergent designed specifically to cut grease.

Contrary to claims by certain manufacturers, nonstick pans should never be put in the dishwasher without first consulting its instructions first. The detergent used will scratch the surface and remove its nonstick coating; hand washing your nonstick pans can often be much faster and simpler.

When not cooking with nonstick, avoid placing it on high heat settings as this could damage its coating and begin degrading over time. Calphalon suggests doing a “butter test”: using medium heat setting on your pan, add one pat of butter, wait 10 seconds and see if bubbles form; otherwise lower heat accordingly.

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Nonstick pans should be regularly wiped down with a damp sponge or dishcloth after each use to avoid food residue buildup that reduces their effectiveness, such as steel wool and scouring pads that may damage their coating. Most companies recommend hand-washing nonstick cookware; however, some provide dishwasher-safe options; always refer to your manual for specific instructions.

Before running water over your nonstick pan, allow it to completely cool before submerging it in cold water; immersing a hot pan into cold water can warp its metal structure and compromise its nonstick surface. It is best to use either lukewarm or warm water, as hot water may cause its coating to warp and lose its stickiness, potentially ruining its nonstick properties altogether.

Your nonstick pan should never go in the oven unless it was specifically designed to do so, as heat can damage its nonstick surface and produce toxic fumes when heated too high. If your nonstick pan becomes scratched or worn down it is time for replacement.

Never use metal utensils in nonstick pans as this could damage their protective coating and scratch off pieces of the bottom metal surface. Instead, wooden, plastic, or rubber cooking utensils should be preferred; never use metal foil or any other items that could scrape away at its coating and scratch its metal foundation.

Even if your nonstick pans are in great condition, they should still be cleaned regularly to keep them working their best. A bit of cooking oil goes a long way toward preventing sticking and prolonging their lives; add one drop when cleaning your nonstick pan to help protect its coating from becoming sticky and grimy.

If your nonstick pan has become burned, soak it for 10 to 15 minutes in hot soapy water with baking soda added, to loosen burnt-on food particles and restore stickiness of its nonstick surface. After that, rinse, dry, and season the pan again using some cooking oil before seasoning again with another drizzle.


Setting yourself up with healthy practices will extend the life and performance of nonstick cookware. Treating it properly will also save money and keep your kitchen equipped with reliable pans.

Modern nonstick cookware may not contain harmful PFOAs that have been linked to cancer and immune disorders; however, its coating will eventually wear away over time and should be replaced every couple of years or whenever its coating begins to show signs of wear and tear.

Good Housekeeping reports that one of the first indicators of nonstick pan deterioration is when its surface starts to scratch or flake, exposing its interior surface and potentially emitting toxic fumes when heated.

To maintain top condition with your nonstick pans, it is wise to store them appropriately after each use. Stacking can cause friction which damages their inner layers and decrease performance; to protect their internal surfaces if you must stack, add layers of paper towel or cloth between each one before stacking.

Be sure to store leftovers from nonstick pans in containers designed specifically for storage and reheating, such as an oven or refrigerator. Doing otherwise could put unnecessary stress on their interior surfaces and accelerate their deterioration.

An easy way to extend the lifespan of nonstick cookware is avoiding using cooking sprays, which leave behind residue on pan interiors that shortens its life span. When choosing oils for cooking purposes, choose avocado or grapeseed oils that have higher smoke points like avocado or grapeseed oils over lower smoke point oils such as extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).

Be wary when using nonstick pans to prepare acidic dishes like tomato sauce and marinades; their acids could corrode away at their nonstick surface over time. Instead, stainless steel or cast iron pans would work better in these instances.