Non-stick pots and pans are very convenient. They’re easy to clean, and—since they don’t need that much oil—let you cook healthier meals. However, non-stick pots and pans need a little more “tender loving care” than, say, a cast-iron pan. They’re more prone to warping, and the surface can flake off and get into your food.
That’s why it’s important to take care of your non-stick pots and pans, to protect them from damage and protect yourself from the health risks associated with digesting even microscopic amounts of its coating. Here are some tips.
1. Store non-stick pans in neat stacks.
Many pots are built to “nest” or to fit neatly inside each other when placed inside a cupboard. Or, you can drill nails into the wall to hang pans, or install shelves or dividers.
This may seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it! If you store pans with other metal kitchen tools, or pile them haphazardly where they can fall or jostle each them you open the cabinet door, you’ll probably end up scratching them and destroying the surface. Proper storage protects your pans—and you got to admit, the kitchen looks a lot nicer, too.
2. Invest in the right cooking tools.
If you invest in non-stick pans, you also need to get cooking utensils that won’t scrape or damage the surface. Metal whisks, tongs, etc. are bad, bad, bad. (Did we say already say bad?) Get one set that’s made of plastic, wood or silicone.
3. Use a rubber or silicone spatula.
Your meatloaf is ready to eat…but don’t pry it off the pan with your knife! You’ll cut into the coating, and once that happens, your pan is just a few months away from flaking or rusting. Instead of a knife, use rubber or silicone spatulas. You can also line the pan with wax paper or aluminum foil, so you can just lift the food when it’s ready to serve.
4. Wash non-stick pans in cool water.
One sure way to destroy your pan is to plunge it into cold water right after cooking. Drastic temperature changes will warp your pan, and affect its ability to distribute heat evenly.
The secret is to let your pan cool before washing it, and then to use lukewarm or cool water. If you’d like to scrape off stubborn bits of food, or get rid of grease, pour hot, soapy water right after you cook, and let it cool before giving it a good scrub under tap water.
5. Clean non-stick pans with a soft sponge.
While we’re on the subject of scrubbing…. don’t ever use metallic scouring pads on your non-stick pan. You’ll scrape off the surface or cause scratches and nicks. Besides, non-stick pans don’t need that kind of rough cleaning. You just have to soak them in lukewarm, soapy water and gently wipe with a soft sponge or even a soft rag.
6. Don’t put non-stick pans in the dishwasher.
Dishwashing soap contain chemicals that can (over time) disintegrate the surface of non-stick pans. Plus, the chemicals can get into the scratches and damage the pan from within.
7. Watch the cooking temperature.
Non-stick pans are best used for low and medium heat cooking. Extreme heat can cause pans to warp, or weaken its finish. Read the manufacturer’s instructions on the maximum temperature for your pan—and use other types of cookware (like a wok or cast-iron) for other types of cooking.
8. Transfer food right after cooking.
Don’t let food “sit” in the non-stick pan when you’re done cooking. Instead, transfer to the right tableware. The acids in the food (like those that contain vinegar or tomato sauce) can affect the surface.
That’s also why many experts recommend using particular pans for making meatloaf or other types of food that have acidic ingredients, and another set for baking bread.