Non-stick pans are perfect for cooking delicate foods like pancakes, eggs, and fish. They also promote healthy cooking because you don’t need to use as much oil to prevent food from sticking. Many of them also claim to be dishwasher safe, but is it ever OK to wash your non-stick pan in the dishwasher?
Unfortunately, no. One of the quickest ways to ruin them is to put non-stick pans in the dishwasher.
Is There Such a Thing as Dishwasher Safe Non-Stick Pans?
We get it, being able to throw your non-stick pans in the dishwasher is extremely convenient. Manufacturers have caught onto this trend, and many of them market their non-stick pans as dishwasher safe.
Are their non-stick pans truly dishwasher safe? We don’t think so.
If you put non-stick pans in the dishwasher you aren’t going to see any immediate damage. They won’t warp, peel, or scratch from a single wash.
The damage occurs over time.
Gradually, the non-stick coating becomes less and less effective.
Dishwashers are not designed to be gentle. Consumers expect their dishwasher to quickly pop out clean, sparkling dishes. Dishwashers accomplish this task by being aggressive.
First, they blast dishes using gallons of water, high water pressure, abrasive detergents, and plenty of heat to dislodge stubborn food particles.
Then they use even more hot water during the rinse cycle to make sure the dishes are perfectly clean of residual detergent.
Finally, at the end of the cycle they blast the dishes with even more heat to ensure they are dry.
If you’re putting non-stick pans in the dishwasher these factors are a recipe for disaster.
Harsh detergents and high temperatures will erode the non-stick coating on your pans much quicker than if you had been hand-washing them, and once the non-stick coating on a pan is damaged it’s difficult to restore it.
Thankfully there is a simple solution to this problem, and we promise it won’t take much time.
Read on to learn how to properly clean your non-stick pans.
The Best Way to Clean Your Non-Stick Pan
You shouldn’t put your non-stick pans in the dishwasher, but there are easy ways to keep them clean and prolong their life.
It’s even more important to treat your non-stick pans gently if they are from a cheaper brand – cheaper brands are typically not as durable and simply can’t take same level of abuse as their more expensive counterparts.
Below are our tips and tricks to clean your non-stick pan without damaging their coating.
Don't Just Wipe the Pan Down with a Towel
Simply wiping down a non-stick pan might remove visible food particles, but it won’t remove the residual buildup that you can’t see.
Over time this invisible residue can discolor your non-stick pan.
Worse, the buildup may actually ruin the non-stick surface if it is continually cooked into the pan.
Wash the Pan After Every Use
Here’s a tip – don’t wait several days after cooking and then put your non-stick pans in the dishwasher. The key to maintaining your non-stick pans is to wash them after every use. Even if you use your pan multiple times a day give it a quick wash after every use.
It’s much easier to clean a non-stick pan before food has had time to harden on the pan’s surface. This practice will ensure that no grease, residue, or food particles remain on the pans after use.
Soak the Pan in Water Remove Stubborn Residue
Repeat after me – never scrub your non-stick pan with abrasive wire brushes or rough sponges. It might be a tempting way to remove stubborn residue, but it will also damage the non-stick pan’s coating.
If food is stuck to your non-stick pan, simply soak it in warm water to loosen it up. The warm water will help the food particles separate from the pan. You can also add some mild detergent to the water to help speed up the process.
Use Mild Dish Soaps
Do not use dishwasher detergents on your non-stick pans, and avoid any detergents that contain ammonia, SLS, or Triclosan. These three chemicals are not only bad for your non-stick pans, they may be hazardous to your health.
So what should you use instead? Stick to brands that offer gentle, eco-friendly dish soaps such as Seventh Generation.
Using harsh dish soaps will cause the non-stick coating on your pan to weaken. In contrast, sticking to mild dish soaps will help preserve the integrity your non-stick pan’s coating for years to come.
Use a Soft Sponge
A huge mistake people make is cleaning their non-stick pans with sponges and brushes that are designed for scouring. The non-stick coating of a non-stick pan is very sensitive to the harsh scratching and scrubbing of these types of sponges.
Using a sponge meant for scouring in combination with a harsh detergent is even worse and is a quick way to ruin your pan’s non-stick coating.
Always use a sponge with soft fibers to clean your non-stick pans, such as the Dobie sponge from Scotch-Brite.
If a gentle sponge can’t get your non-stick pan clean then it’s time to try soaking it for longer.
Rinse with Lukewarm Water
Non-stick pans are not rated for cooking at high temperatures, because the non-stick coatings begin to degrade when exposed to high heat. Did you know that this applies to washing as well?
Avoid using hot water to clean your non-stick pans. Extremely hot temperatures will degrade the coating quickly. So, a rule of thumb is to only rinse your non-stick pans using lukewarm water.
If your tap water runs cold in the winter be sure to let it run and warm up before rinsing your non-stick pan. Rinsing a non-stick pan with cold water can cause the pan to warp, especially if the pan is still warm. While a warped pan isn’t dangerous, it means that the pan won’t sit evenly on the stovetop, leading to unevenly cooked food.
Dry the Pan Right After Washing It
Never wait for a non-stick pan to dry on its own after washing it. This could cause the pan to rust. Or, worse, it could lead to the growth of bacteria.
Instead, wipe away the excess water using a paper towel or muslin cloth before storing your non-stick pan safely in your kitchen cupboard.
Follow these tips and invest in the proper cleaning tools and your non-stick pans will remain in great shape.
Do you have your own tips for cleaning non-stick pans? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!