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You’ve Been Washing Your Nonstick Pans All Wrong — This Is How to Make Them Last

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The next time you’re done cooking with that nonstick pan and are about to break out the soap and sponge to clean it, stand back! You could be damaging it in the process and ruining the delicate film that makes it so effective.

Nonstick pans are typically made one of two ways: They’re either Teflon-coated or PFOA-free. These are what allow you cook food on them without it clinging to the pan and creating a mess later. But despite the fact that they’re made of different materials than other pots and pans, many people treat them the same and scrub them to the max.

According to food writer Claire Lower, all you need to do to get your nonstick pan clean on a daily basis is take a damp paper towel and wipe its surface while it’s still hot or warm. If you feel like you need a more thorough clean, rinse it in cold water with the tiniest amount of dish soap using a paper towel or the non-abrasive side of a sponge. Cleaning in moderation is key here. And whatever you do, don’t stick that pan in a dishwasher!

Looking for more of a deep-cleaning solution to try every week or two? You can mix baking soda with water until it reaches a toothpaste-like consistency and spread it over the pan. Wipe it with a damp paper towel, and then rinse it thoroughly. To go even further, you can try a cleaning “cocktail,” where you heat a combination of one-and-a-half cups water and half a cup of vinegar on medium heat in your pan for five to 10 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool, then rinse it with water water, a few drops of dish soap, and a paper towel.

If you feel like you’re not doing enough with to clean that pan, remember: Food is meant to not stick to it, so let it do its job!

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