Non-stick dishes can be the handiest yet worryingly fragile items in your kitchen.
Maintenance and care can make anything last longer than its shelf life, and the case is no different for nonstick pans and pots.
Unfortunately, most homeowners treat both non-stick and stainless steel the same.
They might forget to season their non-stick pans or casually throw them in a dishwasher, which can ruin the delicate coating.
According to recent retail statistics, America spent around $1.4 billion on non-stick cookware last year – clearly indicating its popularity.
Most people are clueless about the care and maintenance that goes into non-stick pots and pans.
But don’t worry. It really doesn’t take much effort except a few dos and don’ts.
So, in case you’re wondering about the answer to the topic, here’s the first “don’t” to follow:
Avoid dishwashers when it comes to cleaning your non-stick cookware. They are like red flags that can rapidly deteriorate the non-stick coating as well as the overall quality of the product in the long term.
The Truth Behind “Dishwasher Safe” Non-Stick Cookware
Although there are many non-stick dishes that claim to be “dishwasher safe,” it is never set in stone.
You may not notice any peeling or damage when using a dishwasher in the first few instances, but slowly you will start noticing some scratches after using the non-stick pans in the dishwasher.
However, havoc awaits a few years down the road.
Below is an image of my new Zwilling non-stick pan after 4 washes in the dishwasher.
You will be able to see some scratches (and I didn’t use any metal or stainless spatulas so the scratches can be only because of dishwasher.
Over time, the harsh detergents and extremely hot water will erode off the non-stick coating much quicker than if you had been washing the cookware with your hands.
If you think about it, dishwashers have a complicated job. You fill it with dirty dishes, add detergent, and switch on the system.
The machine then uses gallons of water to thoroughly rinse the dishes and dry them so that no spot, stain, or dirt remains.
Some people, in an attempt to go green, end up using very little water.
However, expecting a dishwasher to pop out sparkling clean dishes as quickly as possible requires the machine to get rough.
It has to maintain a high water temperature, use aggressive detergents, and use plenty of heat to clean away stubborn stains.
The main concern is the cleaning agents that rapidly tarnish the cookware surface.
We all know dish soaps are heavily scented and known for their pleasant smell.
However, there are abrasive chemicals in dish soaps and detergents like Phthalates that can severely damage the non-stick coating.
Harsh sulfates, meant for cleaning stubborn food stains and grease, can also weaken the non-stick coating if used repeatedly.
Related Article: What to Do When the Non-Stick Pan Coating Is Coming Off?
Non-stick pans are not seasoned the way iron skillets are. Even if the seasoning erodes after harsh cleaning, the pan can be re-seasoned to prevent rust.
However, non-stick pans are “coated” and not “seasoned.”
They already have a non-stick layer above them, so homeowners are hesitant about seasoning them.
If you’re using abrasive, hard metals for non-stick pans and pots alongside tossing them in the dishwasher now and then, you’re ruining your precious cookware with your own hands. So, what’s the solution?
Also read: Can Non-Stick Pans Be Re-Coated?
Does this mean there isn’t a standard way to clean non-stick pots and pans?
Of course not!
Read on to find out how to wash non-stick pans.
The Best Way to Clean Your Non-Stick Cookware (not in Dishwasher)
Keeping your non-stick cookware far from the dishwasher doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to maintain its hygiene.
Gentle cleaning is the secret to increasing its life and ensuring that the coating stays on for longer.
Even your non-stick pans need to be seasoned now and then to protect the coating.
Therefore, harsh soaps will strip off the moisture they need to retain their non-stick luster.
If you’re wondering what the next step is, then here are some wonderful tips and tricks to clean your non-stick cookware without damaging its coating.
Wash Your Pan After Every Use
Here’s the first take-home tip – don’t wait a day or two before you put your non-stick cookware in the dishwasher.
The key to maintaining its hygiene is to rinse it after every use.
If you’re using your pan to make breakfast eggs and then plan to use it later for lunch or dinner, give it a gentle wash in between.
This will ensure that no grease, oil, or food particles linger on the surface.
The non-stick coating is easy to clean, but any food residue that stays on for too long can harden and become difficult to clean.
Rinse with Lukewarm Water
Avoid extreme water temperatures at all costs.
You probably know that dishwashers need hot water to do their job, which can be extremely aggressive for delicate non-stick cookware.
So, a rule of thumb is to rinse it with only lukewarm water. Hot water will deteriorate the coating quickly.
You must have heard that cooking high-heat foods over non-stick pans can peel away the coating.
Well, the same goes for running it under scorching hot water. Even if you don’t usually wash your dishes in lukewarm water, you have to follow this rule, especially for non-stick pots and pans.
Your tap water may freeze or become exceptionally cold during winters, which can warp your non-stick frying pan.
Cheap pans are easier to strip off their coating as compared to those with industrial-strength coatings.
If your pan is warped, the heat won’t distribute equally while you cook, which can be a real headache.
When cooking meat or veggies, heat distribution is essential. Hence, for long-term benefits, always wait for the non-stick pan to cool after rinsing it with lukewarm water and then use it.
Avoid Wiping the Pan with a Towel
Most people assume that since the coating is non-stick, wiping the pan with a towel would do the trick.
Initially, it may remove visible food particles, but there will always be a residue you can’t remove.
Over time, the stuck-on residue and grease can cook and ruin the coating.
It can cause stains to develop that can render your pan useless.
Use a Soft Sponge
A huge blunder most homeowners make is cleaning their non-stick cookware with scratch-proof scouring pads.
The non-stick coating of a non-stick pan is terribly sensitive to sharp scrapers in the metal scouring pads.
The effects worsen when you also use harsh cleaning detergents to scrub off the food particles.
A good substitute is a nylon sponge to wash non-stick pans and pots that has soft fibers to exfoliate food residue.
You can also use Dobie sponges that retain a lot of liquid and are extremely gentle for non-stick cookware.
They can do the job without disturbing the delicate coating and can also increase the product quality.
Always use cleaning pads labeled “non-stick pan safe” because your cookware doesn’t need hard scrubbing with stiff sponges.
Use Mild Dish Soaps
Avoid detergents that have ammonia, SLS, and Triclosan.
These are not only detrimental to non-stick pans but extremely harmful to your health as well.
Steer clear of phosphates as well as they tend to promote algae growth and are environmentally unsafe.
So, what should you be using instead? There are many brands that offer gentler, eco-friendly soaps that are just as effective at cleaning grease and residue.
Using harsh dish soap will eventually cause the non-stick layer to weaken and peel off over the years.
And considering how often you’ll have to wash your pans, sticking to SLS-free milder detergents will not only ensure hygiene but a long product life.
Soak the Pan in Water for Stubborn Residue
You might be tempted to clean away hard grease and stuck-on residue with a sharp wire sponge.
However, this will only make things worse with scrapes and scratches.
If the meat or spices stick to the pan, then soak the pan in warm water.
The slight temperature hike will allow the residue to soften and eventually separate from the pan. You can then use a mild detergent for a final clean.
Simply fill the sink with warm water, squirt some soap in, and allow the pan to soak for 15 minutes.
For stubborn grease, however, there are many fantastic DIYs that can do the job well.
A baking soda solution is just as good and gentler than a scouring pad. Mix equal parts of water and baking soda and apply over thick stains on the pan.
Let it sit for for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it with a gentle soap.
Baking soda is a brilliant exfoliator that can remove even the most stubborn grease and stains.
Dry the Pan Right After Washing it
Here’s another tip to follow – never wait for the pan to dry on its own after washing. This can cause rusting and will make it harder to cook sticky foods.
Instead, clean the remaining water using soft paper towels or a muslin cloth, and then store the pan safely in your kitchen cupboard.
Never toss your non-stick pans and pots into your kitchen cupboard before drying; otherwise, it leads to bacteria growth.
Follow these tips and invest in mild cleaning items to ensure your non-stick cookware remains in top shape.
While these are the most essential tips for your non-stick pans, in a nutshell, it’s always a plus to use these tricks for all your cookware.
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