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How To Restore a Non-Stick Pan: 5 Easy Steps

How To Restore a Non-Stick Pan: 5 Easy Steps

Restore a pan

Whether you are the master chef of your home, creating all sorts of complicated concoctions, or prefer to whip up quick, simple meals that are easy to take on the go, a non-stick pan is a must-have.

In fact, we’re willing to bet the one you have in your cupboard or hanging on your pot rack right now spends a good share of its time hard at work on your stovetop. 

In many cases, you can easily restore a non-stick pan back to its former glory with just a few simple steps, saving you money and stress. 

How Do You Make a Non-Stick Pan Look Like New? 5 Steps

There’s nothing like a non-stick pan for flipping pancakes, scrambling eggs, or making the perfect grilled cheese. The slick surface helps keep food particles from sticking and burning onto the pan, ensuring you can enjoy the fruit of your cooking labor to the fullest extent.

If you’ve been using the same trusty non-stick pan day after day, you may have experienced that soul-crushing moment when you flip your delicate egg or pancake, and instead of a beautiful somersault, it sticks and falls apart. 

We know you aren’t supposed to cry over spilled milk, but a broken egg or burnt-on mess of a meal feels like a justifiable cause to shed a few tears.

One of the main culprits of a degrading non-stick surface is grease buildup. Traditionally, chemical coatings are responsible for creating a non-stick surface by acting as a barrier to keep food particles from binding with molecules in the pan’s metal.

But when food residue and oil residue start to build up in the pan, it can affect the balance of the non-stick layer, causing chemical reactions that can change the molecular design of the protective coating. 

Over time, oils like canola or vegetable oil can bake into the pan, building up with each use and slowly affecting the pan’s protective barrier. Luckily, a homemade cleaning solution of vinegar and water is a simple and affordable solution to remove stubborn oil and food buildup, putting the essential “non” back in your non-stick pans. 

All you need is vinegar, water, baking soda, and fifteen minutes to spare. Read on for a step-by-step rundown!

Mix One Part Vinegar and Two Parts Water

Vinegar can come to the rescue when it feels like there is no end to scrubbing in sight. The vinegar reacts with grime and gook, helping to dissolve stuck-on particles for easier removal. 

To make this buildup-busting and non-stick-restoring mixture, you’ll combine one cup of water and half a cup of white vinegar. That’s it!

Pour the Mixture Into the Pan and Let It Boil

Now it's time to let the vinegar start working its desticking magic. 

Pour your mixture into the pan and place over high heat on your stovetop. Let the water boil, and then simmer the mixture for ten minutes. Heating the mixture allows the vinegar to bond with any oil residue, making it easier to wipe away.

Pour the Mixture Out and Wipe It Clean

After ten minutes, the mixture should have successfully loosened most of the buildup that has been interfering with the non-stick properties. You can pour the mix out and wipe the surface of the pan out with a cloth or paper towel. It should be looking better already.

Scrub the Inside of the Pan With Baking Soda

The final touch of the restoration process is the versatile kitchen extraordinaire: baking soda. While the vinegar has already done a stellar job clearing any particles that have been messing with your non-stick surface, the addition of baking soda can really ensure the job is done right.

Baking soda is a versatile base that can react with both acidic and alkaline foods. This means that no matter what kind of substance is stuck or baked into your pan, baking soda can absorb and remove it. 

Although baking soda works as an abrasive to break down sticky food particles, it won’t break down or harm the non-stick surface. From absorbing odors, helping baked goods rise, and now restoring your beloved pans — what can’t baking soda do?

Once you’ve sprinkled a generous amount of baking soda in your pan, use a sponge to help work it into every part of the pan’s surface.

Rinse the Pan and Wipe It Clean

Once you’ve scrubbed the pan with baking soda, you can rinse it out and clean the pan as you normally would. 

We recommend using soapy water and a soft sponge or brush to clean your non-stick pans rather than an abrasive scrubber or steel wool, as these can potentially scrub away certain non-stick coatings, depending on the pan. 

Once you've washed the baking soda out, wipe the pan clean to get any last bits of food and oil residue. Dry it and display it for all to see: you have successfully restored your sticking non-stick pan back to its non-stick glory! What can’t you do??

How To Pick a Non-Stick Pan That Keeps Its Good Looks

The sticky truth about most non-stick cookware is it can wear down and lose its oomph over time. While using a vinegar mix to restore a non-stick pan can help extend its life, many non-stick pans are only built to last around one to five years, depending on the quality of the materials. There are cases when your pan may be beyond repair.

If your non-stick is reaching the end of its lifespan, or you’re feeling played by a non-stick pan that seems to be sticking more often than promised (we’ve been there, and it blows), you may be due for an upgrade.

You should especially consider seeking out a new pan if your current one contains a harsh chemical coating such as PTEE, PFOA, or Teflon that is beginning to flake. Scrubbing a flaky coating can lead to further peeling, exposing potentially toxic chemicals that may leach into your food as you cook. 

So, what should you look for to ensure your next pan stays in tip-top shape? Here are our tips. 

Find a Dishwasher-Safe Pan

You know the feeling. It’s been a long day, and you feel full and relaxed after dinner. You’ve already spent so much time in the kitchen prepping your delicious meal, but when you think about the pile of dishes in the sink, you decide to leave the deep clean for tomorrow.

We’ve all been there. But, the downside here is that leaving pans soaking or dirty can affect the life of the pan. Leaving cast iron skillets soaking or submerged in water can lead to rust. Oil is no better and can cause a grease buildup that weakens the pan’s non-stick properties. 

Luckily, this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your rest to painstakingly clean all of your cookware by hand after every elaborate meal. 

Choosing dishwasher-safe non-stick pans like HexClad can keep your nightly cleanup quick and convenient. Avoid the risk of your pan’s non-stick weakening in the sink. 

Pick a Pan With a Stainless Steel Interior and Exterior

Many chefs and home cooks agree that stainless steel cookware is the way to go. They are far more than a pretty face. Strong and sturdy, these pans are super durable, long-lasting, lightweight, and easy to handle. 

This metal is unique in that it contains chromium and nickel alloying elements to limit corrosion, rust, and everyday wear to keep your pans shiny and sleek for years to come. High-quality stainless steel pans can last indefinitely, saving you money and stress.

Stainless steel is also non-reactive, so it won’t affect your dish's taste, color, or aroma. It’s the optimal cookware to achieve a perfect golden-brown caramelized sear and a great choice for cooking acidic foods. Those acids break down non-stick coatings over time. 

However, the downside of many stainless steel pans is they aren’t non-stick. The absence of a non-stick coating means stainless steel cookware can perfect the browning reactions that make certain foods taste so good (think caramelized onions, brown butter, or a perfectly seared steak), but it can also mean more mess. 

This is certainly a trade-off — but it doesn’t have to be. Enter HexClad. Our pans provide the best of both worlds by offering stainless steel and non-stick properties. 

We use a tri-ply clad design, sandwiching a layer of heat-conducting aluminum between an interior and exterior layer of stainless steel. This creates a thicker pan with the ability to withstand high heat and last a lifetime.

The true magic of HexClad cookware comes from our patented hexagonal design. It’s laser-cut onto the cooking surface of each pan. 

The peaks of the hexagons are high-grade stainless steel, allowing for the perfect sear while protecting against peeling and flaking. The valleys offer a non-stick surface to make flipping and turning ingredients mess-free, with no sticky burnt bits left behind. 

Find a Pan That’s Induction-Safe

Induction cooktops are increasingly popular — and for a good reason. This technology relies on electromagnetic energy as its source of heat, and it relies on the iron in your cookware for activation. 

The heat is transferred directly to your pan rather than a burner, so no surface of the stovetop gets hot except for the pan itself.

This method of cooking is considered safer than gas or electric, as there is no gas or flame and none of the fumes that go with them. It ends the risk of burning yourself on a hot burner that takes a long time to cool down. Induction also works quicker, saving you time as it efficiently heats the pan without losing heat to a burner. 

But, if you’re considering making the switch to induction, it’s important to remember that this technology only works with cookware containing magnetic material such as stainless steel or cast iron pans. Many of your traditional non-stick pans won’t accept the magnetic energy, so they’ll stay cool as a cucumber on an induction stovetop — and so will your ingredients. 

Since induction ovens are becoming more mainstream, there’s a good chance you’ll transition to one in the future. Choosing a long-lasting pan that is also induction-safe can keep you from needing to buy another replacement down the line.

Stainless steel contains the iron needed for induction technology. HexClad has you covered for any future moves or kitchen upgrades you make, thanks to our unique hybrid technology. 

Choose Pans That Are Metal Utensil-Safe

If you have metal utensils that you are too afraid to use on your cookware, you aren’t alone. Many of us have seen for ourselves the way that metal utensils can scratch and strip our non-stick pans, reducing their lifespan.

But we also love our metal utensils. Stronger than silicone and easier to clean than wood, metal utensils can lend a helping hand in the kitchen that we just can’t resist.

That’s why we ensured all of our HexClad pans are metal-utensil safe, thanks to their durable aluminum layer. So go ahead and use those steel tongs and spatulas. 

The Only Non-Stick Pans You’ll Ever Need

HexClad's patented cookware design technology is unmatched in today's world of cooking. A well-seasoned HexClad pan will provide the cooking experience of stainless steel, non-stick, and cast iron in a single pan. 

With HexClad cookware, you can wave goodbye to lackluster sears, food sticking to the surface of your pan, and exhausting nights of post-dinner pan scrubbing that still isn’t doing the trick.

Our tri-ply stainless steel pans are lightweight, oven-safe up to 500 degrees, dishwasher safe, and free of harsh chemicals for safer and more enjoyable cooking and cleaning experience.

Our cookware is long-lasting and low maintenance. And, for those few times that your pan may need a little extra TLC, a quick wash with a vinegar and water mix is all you need to bring it back to shiny tip-top shape. 

If you’re ready to upgrade your non-stick cookware, check out our online store to find your forever cooking companion.

 

Sources:

The Science of Baking Soda | ACS Axial 

What Is the Difference Between Reactive and Non-reactive Pans | Martha Stewart

How an Induction Cooktop Works | FineCooking

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