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How to Clean a Non-Stick Pan Properly - Easy Methods that Work

Wondering how to clean a non-stick pan properly? Read on to discover our guide to ensure you can clean a non-stick pan safely and tackle any burnt bits.

Updated By Cleanipedia Team

A pan being cleaned in a kitchen sink
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Knowing how to clean a non-stick pan properly can save you both time and money. Plus, your pans will stay non-stick for longer, so you won’t have to spend ages cleaning them or spend your hard-earned money on new ones. Obviously it also means you’ll be able to enjoy perfectly cooked omelettes, pancakes and other meals without battling to get them out of the pan. So, what are you waiting for? Read on to discover how to restore a non-stick pan to its former glory, ready for cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

While they do tend to cost a little more than a regular pan, non-stick pans should last you for years. As long as you treat them nicely that is.

You will need:

  • Sponge
  • Hot water
  • Washing up liquid
  • White vinegar
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How to clean non-stick pans by hand

You want to do your pot wash while the pan is still warm. Too hot and you could burn yourself. Too cold and the food and oil is going to be harder to clean off.

  1. Empty the pan

    Use a plastic or wooden spatula to remove as much of the oil or food scraps as possible. Remember that you should never pour oil down the sink, as it can cause a blockage. So dispose of it in your food waste bin or regular rubbish bin.

  2. Rinse the pan

    Give the pan a quick rinse with hot water. This will help to dislodge a bit more oil and food waste before you start washing the saucepan. If there are lots of bits, empty the water through a slotted spoon or sieve to catch the bits before they make their way down your plughole.

  3. Remove oily residues

    Pour half a mug of white vinegar into the pan, and top it up with hot water so the pan is around two thirds full. Pop the pan on the hob and bring the liquid to the boil. You’ll see small, glistening bubbles of oil rising to the surface. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and drop an absorbent paper towel onto the surface of the water to draw out the leftover oils and grease. Then throw the paper towel away (use kitchen tongs to pick it up) and pour the water down the sink.

    Tip: You’ll be able to skip this step most days. It’s only necessary if your pan is really greasy or you left it to sit overnight.

  4. Soak the pan

    Place your pan into a sink full of hot water and washing up liquid. Believe it or not, a good quality washing up liquid is all you need to get your non-stick pans completely clean. It should cut through the grease, lift any leftover residues and help to remove any bacteria. If the pan isn’t too dirty, you’ll only need to leave it to soak for a few minutes. If the grease has congealed, you might need to leave it for longer.

  5. Wipe the pan clean

    If the  water in your sink is looking really oily, change it. Otherwise, just crack on. Remember, wipe, don’t scrub. The non-stick coating helps food and oil to glide off. Scrubbing can damage this coating. The surface can also be damaged by using abrasive cloths, metal scourers or utensils and harsh chemicals. So stick to washing up liquid and a sponge or cloth.

  6. Rinse and dry the pan

    Rinse the pan with clean water and dry it with a soft tea towel.

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How to clean a burnt non-stick pan

The above step-by-step guide should get rid of most burnt bits. However, if you want to know how to remove burnt food from a non-stick pan, we've got you covered.

  • Place a sponge or cloth over your thumb nail.

  • Give the pan’s surface a bit of a gentle scrape while it’s soaking in the sink.

  • Never scrape the surface directly. 

How to clean a burnt non-stick pan with baking soda

Baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda to us Brits) is a really effective natural cleaning agent. Try making a paste with bicarb and water, smearing it over the burnt bits and leaving it to sit for half an hour before wiping clean.

Now you know how to clean a burnt non-stick pan, why not find out how to clean other burnt pots and pans, like stainless steel ones?

Looking after non-stick pans: Your guide to caring for your non-stick pans

Most non-stick pans need replacing every few years. To keep yours going as long as possible, we've got a few dos and don'ts you need to know:

  • DO wash by hand rather than in the dishwasher.

  • DO dry after washing, rather than leaving them to drain.

  • DO place a clean cloth or paper towel between them to prevent scratching, if you need to stack them in the cupboard,

  • DON'T use metal or other abrasive utensils or scourers.

  • DON'T heat oil on too high a temperature or for too long. Remember that olive oil has a lower burning temperature than vegetable oil, so you shouldn’t need to use the hottest setting on your hob.

  • DON'T heat them dry (i.e. without oil or water).

  • DON'T put them in the oven, unless the manufacturer says they’re oven safe.

Now you have our comprehensive guide for how to clean a non-stick pan - and care for it in between uses - you can be sure to use yours for years to come.

Whilst most non-stick pans aren't dishwasher safe, why not check out our guide which will show you just what you can wash in the dishwasher. Non-stick pans aren't the only pans we all have at home, so we've also created other guides including how to clean stainless steel pans and even how to clean burnt pots and pans, so be sure to head over to read them too.

Originally published