Tips for Using Nonstick Pans

As I was making breakfast this morning, I took a hard look at my favorite small frying pan. I amPan2 pretty disappointed in the way the pan looks as I have been trying to take really good care of this pan. My husband surprised me with a new set of pots and pans for Christmas several years ago. I’ve really tried my best to keep them in immaculate condition; but I use the small fry pan as often as I can because it has a nonstick coating. I’ve always used wood or plastic utensils in the pan and I wash it with hot, soapy water after each meal. It looks like it is time for me to give this cherished pan a really good, careful cleaning. I’ve looked at the research based information as well as the information provided by several top manufacturers of these products. Here are the results of my research:

  • Be sure to use wood or plastic utensils to avoid scratching the cookware.
  • Also use cleaners designed for these surfaces. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbers. Scrub cooking residue inside pans with baking soda and water.
  • Chose a good quality pan that transmits heat evenly; hot spots in the pan can cause damage to the nonstick surface.
  • Avoid high heat; choose low or medium-low heat for cooking.
  • Never leave these pans unattended, damage can occur if pans boil or cook dry.
  • Don’t use aerosol spray oils.
  • Don’t put nonstick pans in the dishwasher, the combination of high heat and harsh cleaners can damage the surface.

If you find that food is sticking to the nonstick surface, it may actually be stuck on a residue inside the pan. This residue can form from oils in the food you cook; it may not always come clean when washed. Removing this residue may require soaking in how water with a hand dishwashing detergent and scrubbing with a non-scratching scrubber sponges. You may try Soft Scrub cleaner without bleach. Always consider checking with the manufacturer for tips for your particular pans.

I plan to work on refreshing my small fry pan this weekend, when I have a bit of extra time.


Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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7 thoughts on “Tips for Using Nonstick Pans

  1. This is a timely topic. I have a related question. I have a non-stick pan (Caphalon). I’ve taken care with it over the years but I recently discovered it’s warped in the center of it so it spins like a top and the outer few inches don’t touch the ceramic top of my stove anymore.

    I’m wondering if there is something wrong with the stove. The Jenn-air stove/oven is at least 13 years old (not sure when previous homeowner installed it). The burner I use all the time has two heating “rings” which you can select for larger or small pans. The warped area of the center of the pan is similar size and position to the inner ring. I wonder if the inner portion of the burner is hotter than the outer ring and simply taken its toll over the years.

    I’m planning to contact a local appliance dealer to see if they can help and/or write to Jenn Air. I have already showed this pan to the owner of a local store who sells kitchenware and she is puzzled too by the unusual way the pan has warped

    Any insights or suggestions you have will be appreciated. Thanks!

  2. Hi Kathy, I wonder if the combination of heat from inner circle and outer circle (when both are turned on) could be too much heat for the pan. If the pan was not full, then a lot of the energy would go into heating the pan, I’d think. It is a shame when a favorite pan is damaged from use. Hopefully the appliance folks can help you.

  3. Hi Luis, thank you for the link. Liz wrote this blog in 2016; since then, manufacturers have developed cookware that have new and improved features.

  4. To maximize the lifespan and effectiveness of nonstick pans:
    Use low to medium heat to prevent damage to the coating. Avoid metal utensils; opt for wooden, silicone, or plastic ones. Preheat with oil or butter, not dry, to protect the surface. Hand wash with gentle sponges and mild detergents. Store with care, using pan protectors or separating with cloth to prevent scratches.
    Thank you.

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