How to clean non-stick pans

Non-stick pots and pans require special care and the right products to effectively clean them! Read on for a handy guide on cleaning non-stick cookware.

Updated 23 August 2019

how to clean non stick cookware

Key Steps

Clean your non-stick cookware in three simple steps:

  1. Remove any leftover oil
  2. Soak in warm, soapy water
  3. Wipe softly to clean – don’t scrub

Non-stick cookware is a must-have kitchen accessory for anyone who loves cooking up delicious meals. While they do tend to cost a little more than a regular pan, they should last you a lifetime. A standard pan will eventually need to be thrown out as burnt-on, crusty layers build up over time and make it almost impossible to cook food properly. A non-stick pan though, will give you perfect performance with each and every use – if you treat it well, that is. So it’s important to know how to clean a non-stick pan if you want to get the best from it. This handy step-by-step guide will make sure your non-stick cookware sticks with you for years and years.

 All you really need to keep your non-stick pans in top shape is a good quality washing up liquid and perhaps some white vinegar. Best of all, it doesn’t take much elbow grease to get rid of that stubborn cooking grease.

How to clean a non-stick pan

1) Remove Oily Residues

Some recipes need a large amount of oil, so if you’re deep frying chicken or shallow frying onions you can be left with a greasy, almost sticky residue that refuses to come off. You can also get this when you’re cooking a particularly fatty cut of meat. Before cleaning non-stick frying pans, it’s best to try and remove as much of this residue as possible. Fortunately, it’s really easy and doesn’t need to be done immediately, so you can sit down and enjoy your meal, and come back to the pan later.

To get rid of this residue, pour half a mug of white vinegar into the pan, and top up with water (you want the pan to be full, but not too full that you can’t move it to the cooker without spilling). Bring the liquid to the boil, and you should notice that the oils float to the surface (it will look like small, glistening bubbles). Remove from the heat and place an absorbent paper towel onto the surface of the water – taking care not to burn your hands – to draw out the leftover oils and grease.

2) Allow the pan to cool slightly

Cleaning non-stick pans while hot obviously isn’t a good idea – you could injure yourself. However, it’s much more difficult to clean them when they’re cold, as foods can cling to the surface as they get colder. Allow the pan to cool slightly before washing, so that you can touch it comfortably, but still feel a small amount of heat.

3) Soak in warm, soapy water

Place your pan into a sink full of warm 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. They’re specifically designed to cut through grease, lifting any leftover greasy residues and removing any bacteria. Some people recommend using baking soda – an effective, all-round cleaner – for cleaning non-stick pans, but this isn’t a good idea. Although mild, baking soda is an abrasive, and can potentially damage the non-stick coating.

4) Gently wipe - don't scrub

The most important rule when looking at how to clean non-stick pans is to never, ever scrub them. Non-stick pans use a clever coating on the base and sides to ensure that foods and oils simply glide off, rather than sticking. Scrubbing can damage this coating, making your cookware no better than a regular pan. The surface can also be damaged through the use of incorrect utensils (use wood or plastic rather than metal), by using harsh chemicals when cleaning (washing up liquid is best), and by using abrasive cloths.

Even if a small amount of residue is clinging to the surface of your non-stick pan, don’t be tempted to use an abrasive cleaning cloth, like wire wool, for example. This will render your pan useless. Instead, always wipe gently with a soft sponge or soft cloth. If you’re having a bit of difficulty in removing residues, place the sponge or cloth over your thumb nail and give the pan’s surface a bit of a gentle scrape, but never scrape the surface directly.

5) Don't fear non-stick pans

Many people prefer not to use non-stick pans because they perceive the cleaning process to be too difficult, but it really couldn’t be easier. Non-stick isn’t something to be feared, and once you know the best way to clean the cookware, it can be a wonderful addition to any kitchen. It can even speed up the time it takes you to do your dishes – what could be better?

Originally published 19 July 2018