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Everything You Need to Know About Making Your Non-Stick Pans Last

A little TLC will extend the life of your non-stick pans and keep them in tip-top working shape. Here, the essential cooking, cleaning, and storing rules for treating your cookware right.

4 min read

Take care of your non-stick cookware and it will make your egg-scrambling, fish-frying, pancake-flipping life easier for years to come. Non-stick pans are the handy kitchen workhorses, up to all kinds of tasks. Their coating is their magic, and that’s the thing you want to protect. Thankfully, it’s not hard to do. Follow these important guidelines when cooking, cleaning, and storing your non-sticks, and you’ll be well on your way to a long, beautiful friendship.

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Rules to Cook By

  • DON’T prep a non-stick pan or skillet with an aerosol spray, which, over time, builds up a residue that makes the coating less effective. Instead, use butter or regular oil (ones with a high-smoke point, like avocado, grapeseed, or sesame, are best). And remember: A little oil goes a long way, especially with non-stick cookware.
  • DO add cooking oils to the pan while it’s still cool, then turn on the heat. This method boosts the coating’s non-stick qualities and prevents the oil from soaking into your food.
  • On the stovetop, DO protect your pan’s non-stick surface from deteriorating by using low to medium heat settings instead of high.
  • DON’T use metal utensils (whisks, spatulas, spoons). They can scratch or scrape off your cookware’s non-stick finish.
  • DO use nylon, silicone, or wood tools.
  • DO be gentle. Repetitive motions (like whisking) and too much force can ding up your pans.
  • DON’T use knives on your non-sticks. Cutting is another action that can damage a non-stick finish.
  • As a general rule, DON’T put non-stick cookware in an oven hotter than 390 degrees. (Exception to the rule: OXO’s Non-Stick Pro Cookware is safe up to 430 degrees.) Also, non-sticks do better in the oven for shorter stints of time, an hour or less. Make sure the pan’s handle is oven safe, too.

Rules to Clean By

  • DO let your non-stick pan cool down before washing it off. Abrupt temperature changes can warp the pan and break down the coating.
  • DON’T soak non-sticks overnight. It’s another move that causes wear and tear on the surface.
  • DON’T use metal scouring pads or other super-scratchy sponges, which may damage your pan’s non-stick coating.
  • DO use soft scrubbers, cloths, or sponges with regular dish soap to clean your non-stick pan.
  • DON’T use abrasive cleaners like Comet or Bon Ami to clean the interior of your cookware. They are okay for scrubbing the outside, however.
  • Generally speaking, DON’T put non-sticks in the dishwasher. Dishwasher detergent is also too abrasive for most non-stick surfaces. Another exception to the rule: OXO’s Non-Stick Pro line is dishwasher safe.

Rules to Store By

  • DON’T store non-stick pans next to sharp or metal objects that might ding up the finish.
  • If possible, DON’T stack other pots and pans on top of your non-stick cookware. Over time, the coating can break down and lose its effectiveness.
  • If you must stack, DO use something protective, like a paper plate or a dish towel, as a buffer in between pans when nesting them.

Need a little extra help making room for your non-stick cookware in those overcrowded cabinets? Try some of these organizing ideas.

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