Nonstick cookware can give your cooking that extra special, chef-like flair, but as anyone who’s faced a sink full of food-encrusted pots and pans will know, it can be nightmarish to clean. But unless you want to replace it each and every time you use it (a solution that would be as heavy on your wallet as it would be on the environment), clean it you’re going to have to. Unfortunately, cleaning nonstick cookware isn’t quite so easy as applying a hefty dose of cleaning detergent and a dollop of elbow grease. Get too enthusiastic with the scrubbing brush, and you risk warping or even destroying the cookware. Usually, the manufacturer will provide a manual to guide you through best cleaning practice. In case they didn’t, or in case you’ve lost it, here are some top tips on how to clean your nonstick cooking without damaging it in the process.
Treat Before Use
As highya.com notes, cleaning nonstick cookware will be a whole lot easier if you treat it probably before you use it. As soon as you unpack the pan, wash it gently in warm water and just a dash of detergent. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry. Once its dried, ‘season’ the pan by giving it a light wipe with a mild vegetable cooking oil (although never use spray oils) before baking it empty for a few minutes to let the oil set in. Once you remove the pan from the oven, wipe away any excess oil. And voila – a pan that’s not only prepped and good to go, but that will be much easier to clean in the long run.
The Cleaning Method
Cleaning non-stick cookware isn’t rocket science, but if you want to keep your pots and pans in the best possible condition for the longest possible time, it pays to learn (and apply) a few good habits when you’re cleaning them. The Spruce has some great tips to get you started, including:
- Clean while still cool – If the pot’s still piping hot, leave it to cool before you even think about washing it. Although it can be tempting to stick everything in the sink and leave it to ‘soak’, plunging hot cookware into cooler water is also one of the surest fire ways to end up with a warped, ruined pan.
- Avoid the dishwasher -Dishwashers might be a time-saving miracle, but they’re not to be trusted when it comes to non-stick cookware. Not only will the super-high heat of the dishwasher ruin your pots and pans, but it might also end up making your warranty null and void. If you want to keep your cookware AND your warranty healthy and happy, stick to handwashing only.
- Avoid strong detergents -Just as the dishwasher can do all kinds of unpleasant things to your non-stick cookware, so can any kind of extra-strong or abrasive cleaner. Leave your arsenal of bleaches, chemicals, and abrasive cleaning products to one side and stick to good old-fashioned dishwashing detergent instead – the mild formula will clean the pans while leaving their surfaces intact.
- Gently does it – Scrubbing your non-stick cookware isn’t completely off-limits, but don’t put quite so much upper body strength into it as you’re used to. Also, don’t be tempted to try and remove particularly ingrained bits of food by attacking them with steel wool, stiff brushes, scouring pads, or any other harsh abrasives. Sure, you’ll remove the food, but you’ll also remove a good layer of the pan’s non-stick surface at the same time. Stick to washcloths, sponges, nylon scrubbers, or nylon net-wrapped sponges, a little detergent, some warm water, and a good (but not disproportionate) amount of elbow grease.
- Wash then wash again – Rather than going overboard with the scrubbing to try and remove every particle of food on the first attempt, stick to a gentler but more prolonged attack. Once you’ve finished washing the pots and pans once, take a breather, and then wash them all over again. The result will be sparkling pans with none of the damage that hard scrubbing can cause.
- The last step – Once every last scrap of food residue has been removed, give the cookware a good rinse under clean running water, before leaving to air dry.
Once you’ve got the art of cleaning your non-stick cookware down to a tee, there’s a few other handy tricks and tips that will help keep it in mint condition.
- Never Use Spray Oil – Spray oil might be convenient, but it’s got no place in a non-stick pot or pan. Just a few veils of mist can end in a nasty residue building up on the bottom of the cookware, resulting in unevenly cooked food. If you do happen to have used spray oil by accident, remove the residue by following thekitchn.com’s advice and using a non-metallic brush or sponge to gently scrub a paste of baking soda and water around the pan. After the residue is completely removed, rinse and dry. Once the pan is dry, re-season by wiping a small amount of vegetable oil around the surface, heating the pan, then wiping away any excess.
- Steer Clear of Metal Utensils – Even if you’re just giving some ingredients a quick whisk around the pan, don’t be tempted to use anything other than a heat resistant silicone, plastic, or wooden instrument. Metal spoons, whisks, forks, and ladles can make short work of a non-stick surface: don’t give them the chance.
- Add a Drop of Oil – You might have thought that buying nonstick cookware would put an end to your days of greasing the pan before each and every use, but no… a tiny layer of grease and fat added to the pan as you heat it will stop any chances of the food sticking as it starts to cook and help preserve the non-stick coating for longer.