8 Ways You're Ruining Your Non-Stick Pans (Without Even Realising)

8 Ways You're Ruining Your Non-Stick Pans (Without Even Realising)

Fried eggs, bacon, burgers - a good, non-stick pan makes cooking some of the most delicious food a breeze. That is, when they're in good condition.

Despite looking tough, a non-stick surface is surprisingly delicate. And what good is a non-stick pan without its non-stick coating? Scratches and scrapes will make cooking a nightmare. It'll be crumbly, it'll be messy - it will be the opposite of non-stick.

Keeping your non-stick pans in great condition is easy, once you know how. The first rule of thumb is, never leave them in the shared cupboards, the other rules we've listed below.

Learn how to take good care of your non-stick pans today and they'll serve you well for years to come. 

Mistake 1: Using the dishwasher

dishwasher full
The dishwasher is NOT the place for non-stick pans.

We know, we know - it's so tempting to throw everything in the dishwasher after a long day at work and even longer evening in the kitchen.

The dishwasher is good for a lot of things, but it's not the place for your non-stick pans.

The extremely high temperatures and harsh chemicals in the dishwasher tablets will wear down the non-stick coating over time, rendering your pans useless.

Wash them by hand in hot, soapy water after use to make them last longer.

Non-stick pan mistake 2: Using metal utensils

Pans can handle the heat, that's for sure, but non-stick pans have to be treated with care.

It's important to remember the non-stick is merely a coating - easily scratched off and damaged.

This means metal utensils are off limits, as they are sharp enough to scratch into the coating which will make food stick to it when cooking.

Mistake 3: Heating without contents

Sometimes life can be hectic, and leaving the pan heating without any food in it is surprisingly easy to do.

If you're serious about preserving your non-stick pans, this is a mistake to avoid making.

Heating an empty non-stick pan will cause it to buckle, ruining its flat bottom. This may lead to uneven cooking in the future, or food taking an unnecessarily long time to cook.

If you want to make your non-stick pans last longer, always add oil before turning the heat on.

Mistake 4: Leaving your pans unwashed

pans in sink
Don't leave non-stick pans to soak.

Throwing your non-stick pans in the dishwasher is bad, but something equally as damaging is not washing them at all.

All that greasy residue, leftover food and even dishwater will do damage to the non-stick coating, wearing it down over time.

Your best bet? Wash up asap. You can forget the plates and cutlery, but get your non-stick pans clean and dry asap if you want to make them last longer.

Non-stick pan mistake 5: Using a super high heat

Another thing that's ruining your non-stick pans is using extremely high heats.

Non-stick pans are designed to be used for low-moderate heats, not for frying steaks and rendering the fat on a piece of lamb. High temperatures can damage the coating and also release harsh chemicals.

For hardcore cooking, using cast iron - that really is invincible.

Mistake 6: Careless storage will ruin non-stick pans

pan storage corner cupboard
Don't ever stack non-stick pans.

Short of space? Even so, you should never compromise on storage for your non-stick pans. 

Stacking these on top of one another, unprotected, is asking for trouble. Other pans will scratch at the coating, and once they have, there's no going back.

In an ideal world, you should save yourself enough room to either hang them or store them singularly. If you do have to stack them, however, it's definitely worth investing in some felt pan pads to provide protection.

They don't cost much and will prevent damage to your beloved non-stick pans when not in use.

Mistake 7: Using a scourer

There are some jobs scourers are great for - glass pans, we're looking at you.

Use a tough scourer on your non-stick pans, however, and it will completely ruin them.

Although they look tough, their non-stick coating is easily damaged, and a few scrubs with one of these power tools will wear down the coating.

Non-stick pan mistake 8: Drastic changes in temperature

Leave them to cool!

It's always tempting to pop your hot pans in the sink under running water once you've finished cooking.

Not only does this prevent any burns, but it also stops food from hardening and becoming difficult to remove. Not to mention the satisfying sizzle you get when hitting a hot pan with ice cold water.

Although it may seem like a good idea, the drastic change in temperature could ruin your non-stick pans. It will 'shock' the metal and cause it to warp, which will make it difficult to cook with in the future.

The correct way to treat a non-stick pan is allowing it to cool gradually after use, then washing.

Do you have any top tips for preserving non-stick pans? We'd love to hear them in the comments below.


Stephanie C


Lover of all things fashion & foodie...I look to satisfy my tastes without obliterating my budget. Wannabe interior designer, I'm an avid cushion cover maker and charity shop hunter.

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  1. Author Deb on March 16, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Thank you

  2. Author claire mendresse on March 16, 2018 at 10:06 am

    Thankyou for these tips!...now i know why my non stick pans never work!!!

    1. Author Stephanie C on March 19, 2018 at 10:21 am

      Hi Claire. We're glad to be of assistance! Hopefully now you can make your non-stick pans last much longer :)

  3. Author Edith Hall on March 16, 2018 at 11:26 am

    I put a sheet of kitchen roll between my pans and that helps to stop getting marked.

    1. Author Stephanie C on March 19, 2018 at 10:18 am

      Hi Edith. This is a good quick fix, however, we would recommend felt pads if possible. They are much sturdier, protective and won't rip. Thanks for your comment! :)

  4. Author Trevor G Jones on March 16, 2018 at 8:33 pm

    When my wife has finished using the non stick frying pans, she usually leaves them on the stove then when I have some hot water in the kettle I pour it in them to get any grease to float on top ready for washing. Me, I never use them, I always use cast Iron with some olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil depending on how hot I am going to make it, then I do the same until it is washed up by me. At least we do not have to worry about the pans in the dishwasher as we do not have one, as she say's, why buy a dishwasher when you have a husband !!!.

    1. Author Stephanie C on March 19, 2018 at 10:23 am

      Hi Trevor, When washing non-stick pans, I prefer to let the pan cool naturally, then remove any grease with kitchen roll. Pouring greasy substances down the drain may block them. Perhaps you can have a word with my husband - he doesn't seem to have got the hang of washing up just yet! ;)

  5. Author Carole Sprenger on March 17, 2018 at 12:10 am

    I have always kept my non-stick pans in polythene bags, stacked one on top of the other.

    1. Author Stephanie C on March 19, 2018 at 10:20 am

      Hi Carole. This is a great idea! Thanks a lot for sharing :)

  6. Author Lilach on March 17, 2018 at 12:52 am

    just to understand you are talking about Teflon since there are other non-stick that you can use metal on them like ceramic pans....

    1. Author Stephanie C on March 19, 2018 at 10:20 am

      Hi Lilach. Yes, we are talking specifically about those pans with a non-stick coating. However, we would always advise using wooden or plastic utensils on non-stick pans to prolong their life. Metal tools will take their toll even on ceramic pans. I hope this helps :)

    2. Author Jacky Montgomery on July 15, 2019 at 11:28 am

      True, I have ceramic and thought I could use metal utensils, they still scratch!

  7. Author JAMES DOCHERTY on March 17, 2018 at 6:02 pm


    1. Author Stephanie C on March 19, 2018 at 10:16 am

      Hi James. Non-stick pans are definitely more delicate than they look, so it's worth putting the time and effort in to protect them! :)

  8. Author Carol R on March 18, 2019 at 9:47 am

    If I stack my non-stick pans I put layers of the non-slip plastic type webbing you can get in rolls. Works really well and you can cut them to any size required. This also works under carpets that slide around, particularly n vinyl flooring.

    1. Author Joanne A on March 18, 2019 at 10:39 am

      Great idea, Carol!

  9. Author Lilach on March 18, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    another tip - don't buy the Teflon, try to get the new ones that came into the market with the stone coating that you can use metal utensils on them, and they really are none stick, and nothing stuck to them. I have moved and using them, and they are great, not going anywhere near the Teflon coating.

    1. Author Joanne A on March 18, 2019 at 5:01 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Lilach!

  10. Author Carol on June 15, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    I follow all of the rules for non-stick pans. Because I have limited storage space I stove each one in a plastic shopping bag, which helps to protect them. Occasionally I will re-coat each one with vegetable oil and wipe it away with a paper towel; this does wonders for restoring the original non-stick quality. The one issue I have found with non-stick pans is cooking bacon in them. Over many years I have learned that for some reason this just ruins the non-stick finish, and wonder whether it's the salt in bacon that does this. Curious whether others have noticed such a reaction. I designate one pan exclusively for cooking bacon, usually one I've had for awhile, with the knowledge that at some point that pan will be relegated to the garbage bin.

    1. Author Joanne A on June 22, 2020 at 2:45 pm

      That's very interesting! I love the idea of using old plastic bags for protect them.

  11. Author Julia Khan on April 10, 2021 at 4:31 pm

    I left a reply asking if E-Cloth Scrubbing pads are safe to use on Teflon coated pans. E-Cloth have now replied that they are perfectly safe, so I can carry on using them. With best wishes, Julia Khan.

    1. Author Joanne A on May 10, 2021 at 5:38 pm

      Hi Julia! Thanks for sharing that info with us.

  12. Author jackie carroll on July 19, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    Great tips thank you. I had some lovely non stick pans and bakeware for years until I met my husband, who went through them like a dose of salts. Next time I get a new pan I am hiding it from him. All the tips you gave were the exact opposite of how they were treated .

    1. Author Joanne A on January 11, 2022 at 5:33 pm

      Sorry to hear that, Jackie! Good luck with the new pan!

  13. Author Lara on October 1, 2022 at 9:16 am

    I keep boiling my brand new saucepans dry, ruining them. They are not “stainless” steel as advertised. Lol.

    1. Author Joanne A on October 6, 2022 at 11:42 am

      Oh dear!

  14. Author Tom K on December 11, 2022 at 5:46 pm

    Carol’s comment about bacon ruining non-stick coatings aligns with my experience also. I have tried Teflon, T-fal and now copper all with the same result. While cleaning with baking soda then reseasoning it it with vegetable oil works, all that effort is contradictory to the intended ease of owning a non stick pan! I live in a class C so I don’t want the added weight of a cast iron skillet but used to be one of the options I had when I had my house with lots of storage for 8 different types of pans. This is a good discussion group. Stay non-stick my friends!

    1. Author Joanne A on March 7, 2023 at 11:58 am

      Thank you for your comment! It's great to hear that you have had a similar experience with non-stick coatings and have found a solution that works for you. Cast iron skillets are a great option for those who don't mind the weight, as they are durable and can last for generations with proper care. However, other options, such as ceramic-coated or hard-anodized aluminium pans, which may be lighter and still provide a non-stick surface, are also available.

  15. Author cdm2358 on February 7, 2024 at 6:03 pm

    Wow! This article about whether to use a pan without its non-stick coating is really helpful! It's like a friend giving me advice in the kitchen, making it easier to know what to do. Thanks for sharing this useful information! 🍳🌟 I feel more confident now about handling my pans, thanks to the clear explanations in this article! It's like having a kitchen coach right at my fingertips. 🥘👩‍🍳

    1. Author Joanne A on April 15, 2024 at 11:09 am

      That's very kind! We're glad you found it helpful.


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