How to Clean Nonstick Cookware and Bakeware

Keeping your nonstick cookware and bakeware clean is essential for maintaining performance and extending its lifespan. Proper cleaning removes baked-on food and grease buildup, prevents staining, and eliminates bacteria. With the right techniques and products, you can keep your nonstick pans, pots, baking sheets and muffin tins looking like new.

Why Proper Cleaning is Important for Nonstick

Nonstick cookware and bakeware have a coating that prevents food from sticking. This coating is made from polymers like polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or ceramic that form a smooth, glossy surface. With improper cleaning, this coating can become damaged over time.

Using abrasive scouring pads or cleansers wears away the nonstick layer. Metal utensils like steel wool or stiff brush bristles also scratch the surface. Once the coating is compromised, food will begin to stick. Pitting and erosion become visible. The nonstick properties deteriorate and the pan or bakeware must be replaced.

Food and oil residue that are not cleaned away can get baked onto the nonstick over high heat. This carbonized buildup is difficult to remove and ruins the smooth cooking surface.

Proper cleaning helps nonstick last longer. Gently removing stuck-on food prevents scratches or damage to the coating. Using non-abrasive tools keeps the nonstick surface smooth. Cleaners formulated for nonstick avoid eroding the coating while effectively removing grease and stains.

Cleaning Products Safe for Nonstick

It’s important to use the right cleaning products to safely clean nonstick pans, pots, baking sheets and muffin tins. Look for tools and cleaners designed specifically for nonstick:

Non-Abrasive Scrubbing Pads

Avoid using steel wool, scouring pads like SOS, and stiff scrub brushes on nonstick. The rugged textures scratch and wear down the coating. Instead, choose a soft scrubbing pad without an abrasive side. Look for pads made from nylon, microfiber cloth, sponges or flexible silicone.

Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scrub Sponges have a durable sponge on one side and a soft scrubber on the other. Dobie Non-Scratch Pads are made of a thick nylon web that will not mar nonstick. Silicone scrubbers like the OXO Good Grips Silicone Pot Scrubber are also safe.

Liquid Dish Soap

Regular dishwashing liquid diluted with water can effectively clean nonstick cookware. Avoid dish soaps that contain citrus or vinegar, as acidic cleaners can etch the coating. Use a mild detergent and wash gently by hand.

Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid and Palmolive Oxy Plus are good options. Mrs. Meyer’s makes a plant-derived Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner. Fill the sink with warm water and a small squirt of soap.

Baking Soda

Baking soda doubles as a deodorizing cleaner for nonstick pans and bakeware. It is abrasive enough to lift dirt and grease but soft enough not to damage the coating. Make a paste with water and rub gently, then rinse. Sprinkle baking soda on tough stains and let sit before scrubbing.

Nonstick Cleaner Sprays

Look for specially formulated nonstick cleaners like Bar Keepers Friend Cookware Cleanser Spray. These contain non-abrasive ingredients tailored to gently clean nonstick. Spritz on baked-on food, let sit and wipe away. Cerama Bryte also makes an effective Foaming Nonstick Cleaner.

Steps for Cleaning Nonstick Cookware

Follow these steps to safely clean pots, pans, skillets and other nonstick cookware:

1. Allow cookware to cool completely before cleaning.

Hot cookware can warp if exposed to cold water. The nonstick coating can also blister under temperature shocks. Wait until the pan is cool enough to handle comfortably before cleaning.

2. Rinse off any easy-to-remove food debris.

After cooking, run the pan under hot water while still warm to remove pieces of food and residue that rinse away easily. This prevents carbonization and makes cleaning easier.

3. Apply a non-abrasive scrubber and dish soap.

Fill the pan with warm water and a small squirt of regular dish soap. Use a soft cleaning pad, like a Dobie pad, to gently scrub the nonstick interior and exterior. Apply more soap and scrub again if needed.

4. Use a nonstick cleaner for stubborn stains.

For stuck-on oils or discoloration, spray on a foaming nonstick cleaner like Cerama Bryte and let sit for a few minutes. Gently scrub with a sponge or soft cloth. Repeat if needed for tough stains.

5. Rinse and hand dry thoroughly.

Dishwashers introduce heat and pressure that can degrade nonstick over time. Instead, rinse thoroughly with warm water and hand dry with a soft towel. Allow to fully air dry before putting away.

6. Avoid steel wool or abrasive pads.

Never use steel wool, wire sponges, or rough scouring pads like SOS. Avoid stiff scrub brushes. The abrasive textures scratch and damage the nonstick coating.

How to Clean Nonstick Bakeware

Nonstick baking sheets and muffin tins require a bit more care than pots and pans. The nonstick coating is especially vulnerable on edges and raised surfaces. Follow these tips:

Use a Fine Plastic-Bristle Brush

A brush with tough but flexible plastic bristles, like an OXO Good Grips Silicone Pastry Brush, allows you to gently scrub caked-on bits without scratching. Dip in hot, soapy water and carefully wipe the nonstick surface.

Try a Baking Soda Paste

For greasy buildup, sprinkle baking soda and rub it into a paste with a few drops of water. Let sit for a few minutes then wipe clean with a soft sponge and dish soap. Rinse thoroughly.

Clean by Hand

Never put nonstick baking sheets or muffin tins in the dishwasher, even those labeled “dishwasher safe.” The harsher cleaning can degrade the coating. Always wash by hand.

Avoid Sharp Tools

Prevent scratches by not using knives or other sharp utensils to chip off stuck-on food. Use a plastic pancake turner to gently lift any residue before scrubbing.

Dry Completely Before Storing

Get into the corners and edges with a soft towel to thoroughly dry bakeware after washing. Water droplets can allow rust if left to air dry.

How to Remove Burnt Food from Nonstick Pans

Here are some tactics for removing burnt, stuck-on food from nonstick pans:

Simmer with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Put 2 tablespoons baking soda in the pan, then pour in enough vinegar to cover the bottom. Simmer for several minutes, then scrub with a soft sponge. The chemical reaction helps loosen stubborn carbon.

Boil Water

Boiling water for 5-10 minutes often helps dissolve residue. Add a splash of vinegar for more cleaning power. Scrub gently once cooled enough to handle.

Use Nonstick-Safe Powdered Cleanser

Make a paste from a powder cleanser like Bon Ami and rub it into the burnt spots with a damp sponge or ball of aluminum foil. Bar Keepers Friend is another good option. Let sit before rinsing.

Sprinkle with Salt or Cream of Tartar

Cover the burnt areas with salt or cream of tartar. Place over low heat until the area is warm. The abrasives in the salt or cream of tartar will help scrub away the carbonized food as you gently scrub with a soft pad.

Maintaining Nonstick Cookware

Caring properly for your nonstick pans and pots in between cleanings helps prevent damage:

Avoid Metal Utensils

Never use metal spatulas, whisks, or abrasive scouring pads on nonstick. Always opt for wood, silicone, plastic, or nylon cooking utensils. Handle carefully when stacking pots and pans to prevent scratching.

Don’t Cook on High Heat

High temperatures degrade nonstick coatings faster. Cook over medium or medium-low heat. Reduce heat immediately if the pan starts smoking, which indicates it’s too hot.

Allow Nonstick to Cool Before Cleaning

Sudden temperature changes can damage the nonstick coating. Always wait for cookware to cool completely before rinsing or washing. Avoid cold water shocks.

Give Handwash-Only Items Extra Care

For bakeware and other handwash-only pieces, take extra care to wash gently by hand with non-abrasive pads. Avoid soaking too long. Dry thoroughly.

Cook with a Little Fat

Adding a small amount of oil or butter helps food release better, preventing carbonization and buildup. Fats also lubricate the surface. Just avoid heavy greasing.

Troubleshooting Nonstick Cookware

If your nonstick pots, pans or bakeware start underperforming, try these troubleshooting tips:

Scratches and Pitting Appear

Light swirling scratches or dings in the surface mean the nonstick layer has been compromised, typically by abrasive scouring or metal utensils. Gently cooking on low heat can still be effective, but replacement is likely needed.

Food is Sticking

If food starts clinging to the surface upon cooking, the nonstick layer has likely worn away. Try a non-abrasive cleaner to remove residue. Discard if scrubbing doesn’t restore nonstick properties.

Dark Discoloration or Greasy Film

Carbonized grease deposits that resist cleaning can stain the surface. Use a baking soda paste or nonstick cleaner spray. If stains remain, it’s time to replace the cookware.

White Film Appears

A grainy white deposit that builds up on nonstick is usually calcium derived from hard water or salt. Treat with vinegar and scrub gently with a non-abrasive pad. It does not affect performance.

Rust Spots Form

Damp storage can allow rust on edges and exposed metal parts, although rust does not damage the nonstick itself. Remove rust gently with non-abrasive cleanser. Dry thoroughly after every wash.

When to Replace Nonstick Cookware

With regular care and gentle cleaning, quality nonstick cookware should last several years at minimum. But even with proper use, the nonstick coating will eventually deteriorate and need replacing. Here are some signs it’s time to retire a pot or pan:

  • Deep scratches, pits, cracks or erosion on cooking surface
  • Visible flaking or peeling of the nonstick coating
  • Grease and residue do not clean off
  • Food frequently sticks or burns
  • Dark stains persist after cleaning
  • Plastic handles melt or deform

Look for deals on replacement nonstick cookware. Hand-me-down pots and pans with worn coating are not worth trying to revive and should be discarded.

Disposing of Nonstick Cookware

When nonstick cookware has reached the end of its lifespan, be sure to dispose of it properly:

Remove any plastic handles and dispose in regular trash. The metal pan or bakeware piece itself should not go in a landfill due to potentially toxic materials.

Contact your local municipality hazardous waste disposal department to ask about options in your area. Many have periodic household hazardous waste drop-off days.

Some metal recycling centers accept nonstick cookware. Call ahead to inquire about policies in your location.

Place extremely damaged or worn nonstick in the trash as a last resort if other disposal options are not available.

FAQs About Cleaning Nonstick Cookware and Bakeware

How do you clean burnt on food from nonstick pans?

  • Simmer with baking soda and vinegar to help loosen stuck-on burnt food. You can also boil water for 5-10 minutes or use a powdered cleaner made for nonstick. Gently scrub with a non-abrasive pad.

Can you put nonstick pans in the dishwasher?

  • It’s best to only handwash nonstick pans and pots. The heat and pressure of dishwashers can degrade the coating over time. Always use gentle, non-abrasive cleaners.

Why is my nonstick pan sticky?

  • If your nonstick pan starts to stick, the coating likely has worn away through abrasion or overheating. Discoloration and an inability to remove grease buildup also indicates it’s time to replace the cookware.

How do you clean nonstick baking sheets?

  • Use a baking soda paste and a fine plastic bristle brush to gently scrub baked-on residue. Always handwash and dry thoroughly. Avoid abrasive scouring pads and tools that can scratch.

How do I get burnt grease off my non stick pan?

  • Boiling water, baking soda and vinegar, or a non-abrasive powder cleaner can help dissolve burnt grease. Gently scrub with a soft pad once the burnt bits have soaked. Avoid using metal tools.

How do you fix scratched nonstick pans?

  • Unfortunately there is no way to repair scratched or damaged nonstick once the coating deteriorates. To prevent scratches, always use plastic, nylon or wood utensils and soft scrubbing pads without abrasive sides.


Caring for nonstick pots, pans and bakeware requires gentle cleaning to avoid damaging the coating. Let cookware cool before washing, and use soft scrubbers and non-abrasive cleaners. With routine care, you can maintain the slick nonstick surface and prevent food from sticking and burning. Pay attention for signs of deterioration and replace nonstick cookware once the coating shows wear and tear.

How to Clean Nonstick Cookware and Bakeware

Properly caring for nonstick cookware and bakeware helps maintain performance and extend longevity. Follow these tips for keeping pans, pots, baking sheets and muffin tins looking like new:

Use Non-Abrasive Scrubbers

Avoid scouring pads, steel wool, and stiff brushes that can scratch. Opt for soft sponges, microfiber cloths, nylon pads, or silicone scrubbers.

Wash Gently With Mild Dish Soap

Rub gently when handwashing with diluted liquid dish soap. Avoid acidic cleaners.

Employ Baking Soda

Make a baking soda paste to lift residue. Sprinkle on tough stains before scrubbing.

Remove Burnt Food

Simmer with baking soda and vinegar. You can also boil water or use a powdered nonstick cleanser.

Rinse and Hand Dry Thoroughly

Do not put nonstick in the dishwasher. Rinse and air dry completely.

Maintain Properly

Use wood, plastic or nylon utensils. Don’t overheat. Allow to cool before cleaning.

Be Gentle With Bakeware

Use plastic bristle brushes and avoid sharp tools. Wash carefully by hand.

Know When to Replace

Look for scratches, flaking, sticky surfaces and stains that don’t clean off.

Discard Properly

Contact local hazardous waste centers. Do not put in landfills.

Treat nonstick gently to preserve the coating and prevent food from sticking and burning. With proper use and care, quality nonstick cookware and bakeware should deliver years of excellent performance.

How to Clean Nonstick Cookware and Bakeware

Nonstick pans, pots, baking sheets and muffin tins make cooking and baking easier thanks to their slippery food release properties. However, because their coating is vulnerable to scratching, nonstick requires gentler cleaning than other types of cookware and bakeware. Here are tips for keeping nonstick looking like new:

Cleaning Supplies to Have On Hand

  • Soft nylon or microfiber scrubbing pads
  • Liquid dish soap (not citrus scented – this can erode coating)
  • Baking soda
  • Nonstick spray cleaner like Cerama Bryte
  • Brushes with soft plastic bristles
  • Powder cleanser like Bon Ami or Bar Keepers Friend

Steps for Cleaning Nonstick Cookware

  1. Allow pans and pots to fully cool after cooking before cleaning. Hot cookware can warp if exposed to cold water from rinsing.
  2. Rinse under hot water while still warm to remove any food debris easily released by water. This prevents carbonization which causes staining.
  3. Fill pan with warm water and add a small squirt of regular dish soap (not dishwasher detergent). Gently scrub interior and exterior with a soft pad.
  4. For stubborn stains, apply a nonstick cleaner spray. Let sit for a few minutes then scrub gently with a sponge or soft cloth. Repeat if needed.
  5. Thoroughly rinse cookware with warm water and hand dry with a soft towel. Do not place nonstick in the dishwasher.

Tips for Cleaning Baked-On Food

  • Simmer water, baking soda and vinegar to loosen residue. Once cooled, scrub gently with a Dobie pad.
  • Boil water for 5-10 minutes to dissolve carbonized grease.
  • Sprinkle with salt or cream of tartar and place over low heat before scrubbing.
  • Make a paste from Bon Ami and rub into burnt spots. Let sit before rinsing.

Maintaining Nonstick Bakeware

  • Use plastic bristle brushes and avoid metal tools.
  • Clean by hand and dry thoroughly before storage.
  • Don’t use knives or sharp utensils.
  • Sprinkle with baking soda; rub with water into a paste.

Signs It’s Time to Replace

  • Peeling, flaking or greasy film
  • Food sticks despite cleaning
  • Multiple scratches, pits and erosion
  • Rust spots that can’t be removed
  • Melted or warped plastic handles

Treat nonstick gently and care properly to preserve the protective coating and prevent food from sticking and burning. With regular cleaning and maintenance, quality nonstick cookware and bakeware will deliver years of excellent performance.