How to clean a frying pan so as not to damage its non-stick coating?

Not all pans are the same, and, consequently, not all cleaning methods are effective or preserve their characteristics. Elena, reader and member of, asks us the following question in an email: “I would like you to explain the best system for clean my frying pan so that the non-stick coating does not weigh me down: I have read about salt, baking soda, vinegar, fabric softener and even a cook friend told me that he cleans the bottom of his pots by caramelizing an onion.”

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Trying to respond to Elena on a reasonable basis, we have also tried to get in touch with different experts from cooking schools to clarify the best system for us. Still, in the end, it was Marc Vidal, owner of the store specializing in kitchen products Tula I CuinaTaula I China, who has deciphered for us the arcana of an issue that at first seemed much more straightforward.

What should we not do ?

Vidal begins with what we should not do when we are about to clean a frying pan: “if we use pans with a non-stick coating, we should never clean them hot under the tap, because the thermal contrast that comes into contact with cold water will damage said coating; this is the first rule: wait for it to cool down”.

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“Another thing is that we use stainless steel pans, which do not have specific layers to prevent adherence, as happens with pots, for example,” clarifies the merchant and expert: “in this case we can wash them hot if we feel like it, but also cold; in addition, this type of pan has the additional advantage that embedded dirt can be removed with an aluminum fiber pad, something totally not recommended in pans with an adherent layer”.

However, when we comment to Vidal on the methods that Elena cites, he makes it clear that for steel pans for cooking fish, as well as pots, he advises against the salt method “because it is corrosive to steel.” Nor does it recommend it for other pans: “there are more effective and less aggressive methods to clean pans, but in general, if it is in good condition, warm water and soap should suffice; if it is not enough, your pan has lost its his qualities.”

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He insists that scratching with force is ruled out in pans not made of steel or cast iron. Regarding the latter, he warns that his greatest enemy is humidity since it can lead to degrading reactions over time, and he advises always keeping them smeared with oil as a protective element.

What things are indicated clean a frying pan

Marc Vidal explains that soap and water are the best way to clean a frying pan with a non-stick coating. However, when dirt resists this method, he recommends warm vinegar because it acts as a cationic surfactant and helps remove scale accompanied by a few drops of soap. The softener could perform the same function, but its use is wholly discouraged in devices that come into contact with food, given its components.

As some internet pages recommend, Vidal also recommends baking soda with water as a descaling method, although he does not validate the mixture of baking soda and vinegar. In this regard, he also recommends a cloth soaked in vinegar, or bicarbonate of soda, to clean the bottoms of stainless steel pots and pans, as well as the backs, to remove dark spots caused by temperature.

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Finally, concerning scratching with a sponge scourer -type “salvanails”-he advises against its use “because they are still abrasive with the adherent layer, because they are extremely negative as environmental residue and because from the point of view of hygiene they are filthy.”

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In fact, in These are the nine dirtiest objects in your house (and some go in your mouth) we told you that according to the study Dirtiest places in the home, carried out by the American National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), they are the object that more bacterial load accumulates in our kitchens.

Instead, he proposes using silicone bristle scouring pads because he claims they are as effective but much cleaner. He also advises that when we buy a pan for frying fish , we choose one with a non-fluted bottom “because they accumulate less dirt.” To finish, Vidal claims he has never heard of the caramelized onion trick, but he assures that “every professional has their own tricks”.

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