Tips for Maintaining Non-Stick Cookware

Non-stick cookware, bakeware, and appliances need a little more TLC than ones made from aluminum, cast iron, ceramic, stainless steel, or carbon steel. It is because non-stick pans have this extra layer that makes the surface non-stick. With this type of coating, the cookware becomes more user-friendly and requires less oil.

Making sure that you are taking good care of your non-stick cookware will allow you to get the most out of your investment. Here are some general, helpful tips for maintaining non-stick cookware that you need to practice:

Use the right cooking utensils.

To keep the non-stick coating intact, avoid using metal cooking utensils, metal spoons, knives, etc., when turning or stirring your food in the pan because the sharp edges of the object can damage your pans. It means you should not turn your pancakes using metal spatulas, use metal knives or pizza cutters when cutting up your food on the pan, or using a metal whisk or fork when cooking gravies and soups.

Lean on the safe side by using wooden spoons or heat-resistant silicone utensils, spatulas, and spoons in non-stick pans. Once a coating gets a small scratch or nick, foods will stick and eventually cause the coating to peel. And when it peels, the cookware demands to be replaced.

Oil it up before use.

Even though non-stick pans are marketed to imply that no grease or oil is needed when cooking on them, it helps to keep foods from initially sticking if you use a tiny bit of oil, butter, or margarine. It will help the non-stick coating to last much longer. A teaspoon to half a tablespoon of oil will do the trick. Be careful not to pour oil or spread too much butter as it may add unnecessary fat to your meal, defeating the purpose of using a non-stick pan. You may want to use a paper towel soaked in oil instead, then wipe it around the non-stick coating.

Some higher-end brands of non-stick pans with enhanced coatings do well with no oil added. But over time, even the best pans seem to lose their non-stick ability because food residue or continuous exposure to heat has affected or marred the coating.

Do not use non-stick aerosol cooking spray.

It may come as a surprise, but non-stick cooking spray on non-stick pans can actually make food stick. Cooking sprays burn at a lower temperature than the non-stick coating, so they can end up damaging your pans. It builds up and stays while you cook, and it makes cleaning harder.

Avoid subjecting the pan to high heat.

If the coating starts to erode or come off due to cooking in high heat, it may not be safe to continue using the cookware as is. There’s no danger in the fumes – just a potential risk from the coating because if it’s peeling, it can leach in your food.  

Do not store foods in the pan.

Non-stick pans are not meant to be used as storage. Storing your food in the non-stick pan can cause the pan to degrade. Your food may also get a metallic taste when stored long enough in these types of cookware. Always put food in their proper serving or storage container after using the non-stick cookware for cooking.

Avoid cooking acidic foods.

Cooking acidic foods in your non-stick pans may peel off the non-stick coating. Acidic foods like tomatoes and lemons tend to loosen and promote flaking in a shallow coating. It usually doesn’t happen with hard, anodized pans that cost more, but for cheaper non-stick pans, it’s a problem. For some, these acidic foods can ruin non-stick coating after the first use.

Avoid drastic temperature changes.

Allow non-stick cookware to cool completely before immersing them in water for clean-up. Drastic changes in temperature can cause the pan to warp, affecting cooking performance and damaging the non-stick coating. A warped pan keeps the heat from distributing properly. This usually affects cheaper pans more than industrial-strength ones.

Wash it by hand.

Non-stick cookware lasts much longer when cleaned by hand. The slippery coating on these cookware deteriorates quicker when subject to the heat and harsh conditions of a hands-off appliance. Even if your non-stick pan is labeled “dishwasher safe,” exposure to harsh detergents and hot temperatures will break down the surface.

Before using a brand-new non-stick pan, hand wash it with warm water and mild detergent to remove any residues, dirt, and oils from manufacturing and shipping. Every time you use it, take the time to wash it by hand to preserve its life.

Clean using scratch-proof scouring pads.

When handwashing non-stick cookware, use a stiff sponge or a plastic scrub. Never use steel wool scrubbers, metal scouring pads, sharp scrapers, and harsh cleaning detergents. If food is stuck on the pan, allow it to soak on warm water for a bit. If you use metal scouring pads and steel wool scrubbers, it can wear off the coating bit by bit over time.

Clean immediately after use.

If you clean the pans right away, food won’t stick and harden on the pan and will be quickly rinsed off before washing with soap. The non-stick quality of the cookware that prevents food from sticking will also keep the debris from doing so if you address it immediately. If you can’t hand wash right away, let it soak with water so that food won’t harden.

Remove cooked-on grime using natural options.

If you happen to have difficult-to-remove grime and debris on your non-stick cookware, be careful not to use harsh household cleaners or to try to scrub too much to remove the residue. You can use vinegar or baking soda to help while keeping your pan away from cleaners that contain corrosive ingredients.

Add ½ cup vinegar to 1 ½ cup water to your non-stick pan. Cook it over medium heat for five to ten minutes, then allow it to cool. It can help soften cooked-on food and stains, so continue with washing it as usual.

You may choose to use baking soda with water. Mix the two ingredients until you reach the consistency of toothpaste. Use it as a scrubbing agent along with your sponge. This can even remove burnt-on grease.

Dry it thoroughly and store it properly after cleaning.

After cleaning the pan, dry it thoroughly using a washcloth, dish towel, or a microfiber cloth. It’s best to store these kinds of pans and cookware hanging, with plenty of space in between. If you don’t have a pots and pans hanger, store your cookware with plenty of space between them so that the bottom of one pan doesn’t scratch the coating of the other.

If you really need to stack them together, include a paper napkin between them. Do your best to keep them away from sharper corners and objects, and make sure they can be accessed without having to scrape the bottom of one cookware on top of another. Alternatively, use a pan or cookware organizer to make it more convenient.

If damaged, use non-stick cookware repair spray.

If your damaged non-stick pan becomes inefficient, but the damage is not as severe, it can still be revived. You can use food-grade silicone spray lubricants  to repair the non-stick coating in the pan. Once your pan is clean and there are no food residues on the surface, give it time to dry. Apply a good amount of the silicone spray and ensure that the pan gets thick and even coat on the inside to cover it completely.

Then, let the pan sit for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven for 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then put the pan inside and let it sit for 45 minutes. Turn it on after the time is up, then keep it inside the oven to cool down on its own. Once it dries, rewash it using dishwashing soap and a soft sponge. Let it dry before using it again.