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How to clean and care for nonstick cookware

Here's how to make your pots and pans last.

What You Need:

  • Soft sponge
  • Dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • Vegetable oil
  • Paper towel

Time Needed:

5-20 minutes




  1. Hand-wash cookware gently with a soft sponge, warm water, and dish soap. Soak first in warm, soapy water if necessary.
  2. If any burnt spots or oil residue remain, make a paste of one part baking soda and one part water. Dab some of the paste onto stubborn spots and let it stand for 15 minutes. Rinse and dry.
  3. Pour a small amount of vegetable oil onto a paper towel and rub into the surface of the cookware.
  4. Store carefully. If you must stack, place a napkin or paper towel between different pieces of cookware to protect the nonstick coating.

Anyone who’s ever struggled to scrub scrambled egg gunk off a stainless-steel pan knows nonstick cookware can be a godsend. Whether that nonstick coating is ceramic or Teflon, it’s sure to make cleanup easier. long as you clean up correctly, that is.

Nonstick coatings can be fragile, and if you’re too rough with your cleaning, cooking, or storage, you can ruin them for good. At best, this could mean your ceramic pan loses some of its non-stickiness; at worst, you could end up with toxic Teflon flaking into your food.

So listen up: If you’re using nonstick pans, you should know how to clean and care for them. Here’s what we recommend.

Cleaningcastiron hero


How to clean and maintain your cast iron skillet

1. Gently wash the cookware by hand

It may seem obvious, but once you’ve used your cookware, your first line of defense against ordinary food deposits is good ol’ dish soap and water.

Sponge with water
Credit: / Kyle Looney
Your first line of defense against ordinary food deposits is an ordinary sponge loaded up with soap and water.

Because nonstick coating requires a gentle hand, you’ll want to make sure you use a soft sponge—nothing harsh or overly abrasive. If you’re having trouble getting rid of tougher stains, you can give the pan a good soak in warm, soapy water. Just steer clear of the dishwasher. Your nonstick cookware can’t handle the heat.

2. Break out the baking soda

Scrubbing nonstick pan
Credit: / Kyle Looney
If you can't get the pan clean using an ordinary soapy sponge, you may have to try washing with baking soda.

Baking soda is truly one of the home’s most versatile tools. Not only does it do a great job leavening your baked goods, but it also makes an excellent cleaning agent.

It comes in particularly handy when you’re fighting resilient, burnt-on food on a nonstick pan. If soap, water, and gentle scrubbing won’t do the trick, there’s no need to risk ruining your pan with an abrasive sponge. Baking soda to the rescue!

Make a paste out of one part baking soda and one part water, then dab it onto the dirty areas of the pan. Let it stand for 15 minutes, then rinse it away and dry the pan. The unwanted food bits should easily wash away.

3. Season your cookware

It’s common knowledge that you’re supposed to season your cast iron skillet—essentially, build up a protective layer of polymerized oil on its surface. This keeps it smooth, reducing its stickiness and preventing it from rusting. But did you know that you should also season your nonstick cookware?

Yep, it's true. Many nonstick pans even say so, right on the label.

Use vegetable oil to lightly season your pan and protect the nonstick coating.

If your nonstick cookware is ceramic, you can skip this step. Otherwise, try pouring a small amount of oil on a paper towel and rubbing the inside of the pan after each use. Unlike cast iron, nonstick coating can’t withstand extremely high heat, so don't heat the pan after oiling it. Simply rubbing it in will do enough, combined regular use and careful cleaning.

4. Store carefully, use carefully

Take care during cleaning is important, but it's only one part of the equation. If you want your nonstick cookware to last, you should also be careful not to damage the surface when you’re cooking and storing it.

Take care not to scratch or gouge your nonstick cookware. Tweet It

When you’re cooking, use wooden spoons or soft silicone spatulas rather than metal utensils. You’d be surprised how easy it is to scratch a pan with a metal spoon.

When it comes time to put nonstick cookware away, don’t stack pots and pans carelessly on top of each other. The bottom of one pan can scratch the top of another. Instead, place a napkin or paper towel between each pot or pan before stacking them.

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