How to Clean Nonstick Cookware and Bakeware

a nonstick skillet filled with soapy water

The Spruce / Julieanne Browning 

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 10 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Nonstick cookware and bakeware can produce chef-quality results if you take the time and effort to use and care for it properly. Improper cleaning can warp or ruin the nonstick cookware. While you should always check with your product's manufacturer for specific recommendations, there are some general cleaning rules that will help garner top performance and durability from your nonstick cookware.

Before Using New Cookware

Before using new cookware for the first time, wash it with hot, soapy water, rinse well, and dry it thoroughly with a soft cotton or linen towel. To ensure nonstick performance from the start, it has been standard practice to "season" or "condition" the pan by lightly coating the surface with any type of cooking oil, baking it, and wiping it clean. At least one maker, Calphalon, says this one-time seasoning is not necessary for nonstick cookware.

How Often to Clean Nonstick Cookware

Clean your nonstick cookware after every use. Keeping your nonstick cookware clean will provide a more consistent, quality performance. Any food residue or leftover grease will cook into the surface and carbonize, causing food to stick. That cooked-on residue is hard to see and even more difficult to remove, so wash carefully and thoroughly every time.

materials for hand-washing nonstick cookware
The Spruce / Julieanne Browning

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washcloth, sponge, nylon scrubber, or nylon net-wrapped sponge such as a Dobie pad


  • Dish soap
  • Hot water


  1. Start With Cool Cookware

    It's essential to let the cookware cool completely before washing; immersing a hot pan in cooler water could permanently warp and ruin it.

    allow cookware to cool completely
    The Spruce / Julieanne Browning
  2. Always Handwash

    Though it's tempting to load the pans into the dishwasher, resist the convenience and always wash nonstick cookware by hand with hot, soapy water using only a dish detergent made for handwashing. The high heat of a standard home dishwasher can not only ruin nonstick surfaces but also void the warranty. Take care never to use harsh cleaning agents such as bleach, abrasive cleansers, or other chemicals on nonstick surfaces.

    always wash nonstick cookware by hand
    The Spruce / Julieanne Browning
  3. Scrub Gently

    Though it's best to handle these pots and pans as if they're fragile, you can scrub off stubborn messes with some elbow grease and a washcloth, sponge, nylon scrubber, or nylon net-wrapped sponge such as a Dobie pad. To avoid the risk of residue and the resulting carbonization, it's a good habit to wash each piece twice to ensure that every last trace of food and oil or butter is removed.


    Never use abrasives such as steel wool, stiff brushes, or scouring pads. These harsh materials will scratch the surface and ruin your cookware.

    gently scrubbing a skillet
    The Spruce / Julieanne Browning
  4. Rinse

    Rinse thoroughly, making sure that all soapy residue has been rinsed and removed.

    rinsing off the soapy residue
    The Spruce / Julieanne Browning
  5. Dry Thoroughly

    Dry each piece completely. Use a dishcloth or clean rag.

    drying off the skillet
    The Spruce / Julieanne Browning
  6. Store Properly

    Careful storage is important for the lifespan and performance of nonstick cookware. Most manufacturers recommend storing your cookware on a hanging pot rack with plenty of room between items. Don't worry if you don't have a hanging rack. You can safely store your cookware in a cabinet by layering a soft cloth, such as a baby's receiving blanket or an oversize dish towel, between each pot and pan to protect the nonstick surface from coming into contact with bare metal, which can scratch or damage it.

    Storing cookware in dedicated drawers

    The Spruce / Rachel Vanni

Tips to Keep Your Nonstick Cookware Clean Longer

  • Never use metal utensils on your nonstick surfaces; they can damage the coating in a split second. Opt instead for materials like wood, nylon, plastic, rubber, or silicone, or use specially coated utensils designed for nonstick surfaces.
  • Never cut into the food you're cooking with a knife; it's a sure way to damage the surface and void the warranty.
  • Do not use a nonstick pan under the broiler or bake at temperatures higher than 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The intense heat will damage the finish.

Cooking With Nonstick Cookware

Nonstick cookware performs better at slightly lower temperatures than standard cookware; experimentation will help you find the perfect settings. Calphalon recommends what it calls the "butter test": Heat the pan on medium-high, and when its rim feels hot to the touch, add a pat of butter. If it bubbles, the heat is right. If it browns quickly and burns, clean out the pan and try again at a lower heat setting.

The greatest advantage of nonstick cookware is that it needs no butter or oil to keep the food from sticking, but you can certainly add fats for taste and texture. It's the perfect cookware for people who are watching their weight or cholesterol levels or who are following a heart-healthy diet.

Whether you invest in a high-quality set of cookware or buy one bargain pan, you can greatly extend the lifespan of your nonstick cookware with careful use, meticulous cleaning, and mindful storage.

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Caring for Your Non-Stick Skillets. American Heart Association.