How To Clean A Burnt Non Stick Pan (5 Easy Methods)

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It’s a given that one of the most used cookware in our kitchen is our nonstick pan. The low-fat cooking and easy cleaning are just some of the main features why they are used on a daily basis. As great as your nonstick pan might be, it’s not entirely perfect. Most nonstick cookware have a delicate cooking surface that tends to scratch easily or starts to chip. However, we can prevent this from happening with proper care. Here are tips on how to clean a burnt non stick pan without damaging it.

Easy Tips on How to Clean a Burnt Nonstick Pan

Cleaning a nonstick pan is a breeze. Even when it comes to burnt food, it’s much easier to remove gunk and stains compared to other types of material.

  • Easy nonstick pan cleaning

When food sticks onto your nonstick cookware, pour warm or hot water into the pan right after you finish cooking. Burnt food that stuck onto the pan will easily loosen up when you soak your cookware while it’s still hot. After soaking, you may simply wash your cookware as you normally would.

  • Cleaning a nonstick pan with soapy water

If sticky food like caramelized sugar or cheese and other types of food that hardens sticks onto your cookware, then it will be harder and longer for these types of gunk to remove. Adding soap to your warm water will hasten the process and easily lift the gunk off your cookware. After soaking for at least 30 minutes, wash your cookware as normal.

How to clean stubborn burnt food off the nonstick pan

Caramelized sugar, stuck meat, charred sauces, and more are troublesome to remove. Sometimes with the frustration of long hours of soaking, we tend to start scrubbing our cookware thus ultimately destroying our nonstick surface.

  • Cleaning a nonstick pan with a vinegar soak

When basic nonstick pan cleaning fails, try doing a vinegar soak. Vinegar is a natural cleanser. It’s acidic properties help in breaking down organic material and this helps lift and reduce the amount of burnt food stuck on your pan.

Dip a dishcloth in white vinegar and put it directly on burnt food or grime on your pan. Wait for an hour or so to allow the vinegar to work its magic. Using the same vinegar-soaked dishcloth, wipe the surface of the pan. The gunk on your pan will easily slide and be wiped away. For any remaining grime stuck on your pan, simply wash it off with soap and water.

  • How to clean a burnt pan with salt

The idea of a self-cleaning method is definitely a blessing to many home cooks. There are some tough grimes that are really hard to remove and cleaning your pan with salt water may simply do the trick.

Fill your pot or pan with warm to hot water until the soiled portion of your cookware is submerged in water. Add a tablespoon of salt and mix it in until it is diluted. Leave the cookware to soak for at least 30 minutes and longer if the charred food is really stuck to your pan’s interior.

After soaking, put your cookware on your stove and turn the heat on high. Bring the salt water to a boil and let it simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. Test to see if the burnt food is loose using a wooden utensil. Once the char comes off, pour the saltwater and wash your pot or pan as usual.

  • How to clean a burnt pan with baking soda

In a bowl, mix equal parts of warm water and baking soda until it forms a paste. Using a sponge or a dishcloth, spread the paste over the gunk on your cookware and let it sit for 15 minutes.

The baking soda will help lift the charred food off your pan. After letting the paste sit, wipe it off and rinse the pan with cold running water.

  • How to clean a burnt pan with oil and salt

Troublesome grime caused by meat fat, oils, sugars, and sticky sauces burn easily and stick to your cookware like glue. They are hard to remove especially when these foods mix together and form a nasty sap over your cookware. Sometimes soaking can lift this grime off. To simplify the process, you need oil and salt.

On the stove, put your nonstick pan and turn the burner to medium heat. Pour two tablespoons of olive oil or any other vegetable-based oil into your pan and add 3 tablespoons of sea salt or table salt. 

To spread the oil and salt around the bottom of the pan, give the nonstick pan a good swirl. Turn the burner off and allow the pan to cool down and rinse it with warm water. Then wash the pan to remove the salt residue away.

What to avoid when cleaning a nonstick pan

cleaning non stick pan tips

One of the reasons why burnt food is hard to remove is mostly due to a lack of proper maintenance. Usually, nonstick pans in pristine or great conditions are easier to clean even when you burn food on them.

  • Do not use the dishwasher

Even when advertised as dishwasher friendly, nonstick pans have a fragile surface. Any scratch may lead to larger damage. Dishwashers tend to wash your cookware using strong or abrasive soaps. It’s best to avoid the dishwasher altogether.

  • Avoid using abrasive soaps or cleansers

Use natural dishwashing soap. The typical dishwashing soap we use tends to leave residue on our cookware. These residues catch onto food particles causing them to burn faster and also stick onto your cookware. Natural soaps are less sudsy and are easier to wash off.

  • Do not use metal pads

No matter how tough burnt food particles stick onto our food, always steer away from scrubbing. Do not use metal pads or rough dishwashing scrubs on your cookware. These will scratch the cooking surface that may strip off the nonstick properties of your cookware.

  • Don’t forcefully scrape food stuck on the pan

As I’ve already mentioned, it’s best to be more patient rather than suffer the consequences of forcefully scrubbing or scraping burnt food off your cooking surface. Sometimes, we use a fork or a spoon thinking that they will rip these stuck gunk off our pans but these utensils can scratch and also chip parts of your nonstick cookware.

  • Do not use acidic mixtures for cleaning

Some natural cleaners used in removing stains from cookware are citrus fruits like lime or lemon. Though they work well in cleaning our stainless steel pans, avoid them when cleaning your nonstick cookware. Pure citric acid will react with your nonstick surface, it strips the nonstick lining off leading to further damage. If you wish to clean your pan using these natural cleaners, you have to dilute them in water and wash your cookware thoroughly.

Nonstick Pan Maintenance Cleaning

maintenance 1

One of the best ways to prevent charred food from sticking on to your pat is by proper cleaning and maintenance. Lack thereof leaves your cookware prone to stickiness and reduced cooking efficiency.

  • Dry your cookware thoroughly

I always suggest that you wipe your cookware clean using a dishcloth. This will wipe away any unwashed soap off your pan.

Rinsing our cookware under running tap water is better than washing in a dishwasher. However, our tap water contains chlorine which can accumulate and form as residue on our cookware. To prevent this from happening, always wipe your pan thoroughly after washing it instead of leaving it to air dry.

  • Periodic oiling

Over time, every nonstick pan will lose its nonstick properties. To extend its longevity periodic oiling is a good idea. However, compared to seasoning a cast iron or stainless steel pan, you simply wipe your cookware with an oily napkin. You can heat your pan first 

This periodic oiling helps keep the nonstick property of your pan. But you have to remember that you need to wash your pan before you use it again.

  • Use wooden or silicone utensils

Metal utensils are a definite no-no when cooking using a nonstick pan. Always use a wooden or silicone utensil. They are gentle on your nonstick surface and won’t scratch your cookware thus prolonging the life of your nonstick pan.

  • Always soak with water

After cooking, you should opt to soak your cookware. If you happen to cook oily food, rinse it immediately with warm or hot water to remove the oil. It would prevent the oil from hardening and make it easier for you to wash it afterward.

Bottom Line

Nonstick cookware has the most fickle cooking surface. It needs the most care and maintenance. Once your cookware starts to chip off or its nonstick surface stripped off, it needs to be replaced. As one of the most used kitchenware, your nonstick pan will definitely face abuse and frequent burning of food. But no matter how badly charred your food may be, there are easy ways to clean your pan without damaging its nonstick surface.