How To

How To Clean a Nonstick Pan

I’ve had this one little nonstick pan for past three years. It’s the perfect size for toasting garlic in olive oil to eat over spaghetti, my favorite budget meal. Now, I’m more likely to use it in the morning to fry an egg. And after more than a decade of use, it’s still mostly nonstick, although I can see some signs of wear — a few scratches from the occasional metal-edged utensil (whoops!), some chips along the edges from tossing it into the cabinet (whoops again!). We have some newer nonstick pans in our arsenal, but I still come back to this one most of the time.

For the most part, I never used metal utensils on it. I always hand-washed it, and I always waited until it was totally cool before cleaning it. I should have actually been oiling it, like a cast iron skillet, but it’s never too late. In fact, I just started and it already seems to be working!

Steps To Clean a Nonstick Pan

Wait for the pan to cool: Let the pan cool completely, as putting a hot pan in cold water can warp it through thermal shock.

Scrub the pan: Squirt the dish soap onto your sponge or brush and gently rub the surface in a circular motion. Never use an abrasive scrubber or one made of metal because it can scratch the coating. And don’t use a harsh cleanser (like oven cleaners, bleach, or liquid household cleaners used for floors or porcelain) to clean the pan because that can damage the surface, too.

Don’t forget the outside of the pan: Repeat for the outside of the cookware.

Rinse: Run the pan under the water to rinse off the soap and see if you’ve got any remaining residue left.

Tackle burnt spots: If some stubborn spots remain, sprinkle a little bit of kosher salt onto the area, add a splash of water to make a paste, and use your sponge to gently dislodge it. Be careful not to scrub too hard, as you don’t want to scratch the coating. Then rinse and dry the pan.

Season the pan: To condition the pan once it’s dry, rub the surface with a dab of vegetable oil (less than a teaspoon)and a paper towel, then use another clean paper towel to wipe off the excess.


  • To dry your nonstick skillet, either let it sit upside down on a dish rack or use a clean cloth to dry it by hand.
  • If your nonstick pan is extremely scratched, flaking, or no longer actually seems to be nonstick, it’s time to get a new one.