Like cast-iron pans, non-stick pans come with their own set of rules to ensure long-lasting longevity. If you want to keep getting those perfectly rolled French omelettes and smooth, unblemished pancakes, then you're going to have to make sure your non-stick pan stays in perfect condition. Make sure you're not making any of these following 10 mistakes to ensure your non-stick pan lasts for as long as possible.
Using Metal Utensils
Arguably the most important rule to remember is to not use metal utensils on your non-stick pan. The last thing you want to do is to scrape off the non-stick coating that keeps everything, well, non-stick. Instead, opt for wooden utensils or those made out of silicone.
Preheating While Empty
When you heat an empty non-stick pan, the only thing getting heated is the non-stick coating. And that is not good. The non-stick coating will start to deteriorate and release harmful toxins in the air, which is definitely something you do not want.
Taking Things Too Hot
Even after your start cooking, avoid cooking on extra-high heat. Despite having food in the pan, the hotter temperature can still degrade the non-stick coating. It's also why you shouldn't expect to get amazing sears from your non-stick pan — that's what cast-iron is for!
Stacking Your Cookware
That precious non-stick material is very delicate. You may feel the urge to stack your cookware but the bottom of other cookware will likely scratch your non-stick pan, much in the same way metal utensils would. Do your best to find ways to store your non-stick pans without stacking, but if it's absolutely necessary to stack because of storage restrictions, keep something soft — like some sort of fabric — between the cookware to avoid rubbing and abrasion.
Using It After the Coating Tears
We told you all the ways to avoid scratching your non-stick pan, but now it's happened — the non-stick coating has started to tear away. Once you can see the non-stick coating lifting away, it's time to throw away the pan. Parts of the pan will start to end up in your food, and you do not want to eat whatever it is that coats your non-stick pan.
Spending Too Much
Unfortunately, non-stick pans won't last forever. After all, once it gets even a tiny scratch, the pan is practically done for. You can find a great non-stick pan for around $20 (T-fal makes a pretty excellent one), so no need to shell out a few bills for something with a short shelf life.
You Don't Slick Your Non-Stick
After you realize you shouldn't be heating up a non-stick pan without anything in it, it's important to realize that non-stick still needs a little help being non-stick. Add some fat —whether it's oil or butter — to your pan so things slide right out. Just don't use cooking sprays, which are notoriously hard to clean off and will start to accumulate on your pan's surface, creating a nasty, sticky residue.
Throwing a Hot Pan Under Cool Water
This applies to pretty much all cookware, but the quick transition from hot to cold can warp a pan rendering it close to useless. Let that hot pan cool before washing it to avoid ruining it for good.
You Use the Dishwasher
Dishwashers feel like a godsend, but they're the exact opposite when it comes to non-stick pans. From the cleaning solutions to the stark temperature fluctuations, a dishwasher can easily warp and distort your non-stick pan. And even though some non-stick pans say they're safe to put in the dishwasher, it's really not that hard to hand wash. After all, that non-stick coating should come in handy or swiping out all the leftover grime in the pan.
Putting in Too Much Elbow Grease
Since you're (hopefully) hand-washing your non-stick pan now, it's a good time to tell you to take it easy with the scrubbing. Definitely don't scrub your pan with an abrasive cleaner, and avoid scrubbing so hard that the coating rubs off.