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Cleaning Non-Stick Pans

Wash pans promptly!
Wash pans promptly!

Cleaning non-stick pans is often simple, due to the nature of the product. However, a cook or two has been known to burn food into the non-stick pan, thereby creating the conundrum of removing the burnt mess without damaging the cooking surface.

Regular Non-Stick Cleaning

A non-stick pan requires little maintenance. The surface itself almost guarantees that cleaning will as easy as boiling water. To clean a non-stick pan, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Scrape out any food particles using a wooden, rubber or plastic spatula.
  2. Allow the pan to return to room temperature before submerging in warm, sudsy water.
  3. Wipe the pan clean using a washcloth or nonabrasive Nylon scrubber.
  4. Allow the pan to dry or towel-dry it.
  5. Hang the pan or carefully stack it for storage.

Originally, non-stick pans were not supposed to be placed in dishwashers. Modern advances in cookware have made it possible to wash many non-stick cooking pieces in the washer. Check the owner's manual to be certain of whether the particular piece is dishwasher safe. A light white stain may develop from dishwasher use over time.

Cleaning Non-Stick Pans of Stuck-On Food

Although it sounds like an oxymoron to talk about cleaning stuck-on food from non-stick pans, it does happen more frequently than even seasoned chefs would like to admit. Small scratches in the surface of the pan can cause food to stick, using non-stick spray builds up residue and cooking at too high of a temperature and infrequent stirring may cause food to burn. All of these issues can cause food to stick to a non-stick pan and require cleaning remedies for proper washing.

Expert Tips

The column Heloise Hints from home magazine Good Housekeeping offers two solutions for cleaning pans of stuck-on food particles:

  1. To clean residue from non-stick pans, boil a half cup of vinegar with water to bring the particles up. Use a towel to clean them out and then wash out the pan with soapy water.
  2. Add a tablespoon of powdered dishwasher detergent mixed with water and bring to a boil with the stovetop fan running. Wash residue off non-stick pans after they have been simmering for ten minutes, but do not let the mixture dry in the pans. This solution works well for spray residue.

Manufacturer Recommendations

The best way to clean stuck-on food from non-stick pans is to follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Several surfaces are considered "non-stick," which means they may require different cleaning methods. Warranties on expensive cookware can be voided if they are improperly cleaned. If the actual owner's manual has escaped the kitchen, it can be easy to find the needed information on the internet. Simply look up the brand's website and find either cleaning and care instructions or download a manual. Both Calphalon and Le Creuset offer cleaning and care tips online, while customers can download product manuals from Cuisinart.

Proper Care of Non-Stick Pans

Proper use, care and handling of non-stick pans will make them last longer. It can also prevent scratches and burns that lead to stuck-on messes. Follow these tips for care of non-stick pans:

  • Read and follow manufacturer recommendations.
  • Most non-stick pans do not need to be heated on "high" settings unless boiling liquids.
  • Use wooden, rubber or plastic spoons, spatulas and whisks in a non-stick pan.
  • Plate prepare food instead of cutting and serving from the pan.
  • Do not put the pan in the dishwasher unless instructions explicitly say it is okay to do so.
  • Immediately soak and wash pans with stuck-on food.
  • Do not submerge hot pans in cold water or cold pans in hot water. Lukewarm water is best for cleaning non-stick pans.
  • Only clean pans with gentle dishwashing soaps and nonabrasive scrubbers.
  • Carefully stack pans together. Lids and metal bottoms can scrape a non-stick surface.

Make Non-Stick Pans Last

Using proper utensils, following cooking recommendations by manufacturers and washing promptly can all help extend the life of non-stick cookware. By following the right procedures each time the pans are used, cleaning is effortless. When an occasional mishap occurs, clean it promptly and remember how to avoid it the next time the pan is used.

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Cleaning Non-Stick Pans