Image for article titled Stop Washing Your Nonstick Pan So Much (but Do This Instead)

Photo: Tacar (Shutterstock)

I’m not one of those people who uses their cast iron pan for everything. I understand that it can be done, and I understand that a properly seasoned cast iron pan is a thing of slippery beauty, but I’m kind of lazy and will always have a nonstick pan in my arsenal, mostly for egg-making purposes.

Nonstick pans, whether Teflon-coated or PFOA-free, are easy (which is a vibe I know all too well). They’re easy to cook food in and easy to clean food off of; they can be seasoned (much like cast iron), but most likely won’t need to, especially if you go easy on the washing.

Why you shouldn’t wash your nonstick pan so much

There are some nonstick pans (such as the GreenPan) that seem to do totally fine in the dishwasher, but some nonstick coatings—especially Teflon—react poorly to those hot, aggressive conditions. The combination of detergent, water pressure, and salts can cause the coating to break down, resulting in sticky or flakey pans.

I rarely use soap and water on my pan unless I’m dealing with something truly stubborn (like these cream-fried eggs, which have a strong affinity for Teflon for some reason). Instead of washing after each use, I wipe the pan with a paper towel or sponge while it’s still hot. If that doesn’t cut it, I’ll put the pan back on the burner, heat it up a bit more, then wipe it out with a damp paper towel or sponge—a little “steam cleaning,” if you will. That’s how my mom always cleaned her nonstick pans, which I thought was “weird” when I was young because I thought everything my mom did was “weird” from ages 13-22.

If steam doesn’t do it, give it a gentle scrub with a non-abrasive sponge and some cold soapy water, but the steam works about 94% of the time. This kinder, gentler approach will extend the life of your nonstick pan and keep that coating happy.