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The ultimate success ‒ or failure ‒ of your dish can depend on the type of pan you use. Cook with the wrong pan, and your eggs may stick to it or your steak may end up well-done rather than medium-rare. All kinds of other frustrating situations can happen that can even involve the smoke alarm going off.

These very situations are why non-stick pans are so popular; they allow you to cook your favorite foods without having food stick to the bottom. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that you can’t still burn your food when cooking with non-stick pans, which means cleaning burned-on residue off your pans.

By now, you might have exhausted the many different options of getting this mess off your favorite Teflon pans, such as using ammonia, salt and lots of prayers. If none of these remedies have worked very well, try these methods.

How to Clean Burned, Non-Stick Pans

It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice in the kitchen or at a Food Network-chef level of cooking, at times, you will end up having burned food stuck to your pan. When this happens, don’t panic, and don’t even think about throwing that pan in the dishwasher.

Burned non-stick pans require heavy cleaning, but non-stick pans generally aren’t dishwasher-friendly anyway. Instead, follow these two options for cleaning burned food off non-stick pans. Your pan will feel and look like new again shortly.

  1. With white vinegar: If you burned dinner and are waiting for your pizza to arrive, then try the white vinegar method. Fill your non-stick pan with water and ½-cup white vinegar, bringing the mixture to a boil.

    The burned-on residue should start to come off and float to the top. Turn off the heat, and, after it cools, use a paper towel to remove the pieces. Pour out the water and wash the pan like normal in warm, soapy water.
  1. With baking soda: Soda contains an ingredient that helps tackle those truly difficult cleaning jobs by working as a mild abrasive. Start by covering the bottom of the pan with water. Add baking soda liberally to the water to create a thin paste. Let the mixture sit in the pan for a few hours; rinse and wash like normal.

  2. Another method involves baking soda to get out those ultra-tough stains. Boil 4 tablespoons of baking soda with ½-water in the pan. After the pan has cooled (a hot pan will warp in cold water), rinse. Scrub out the stains with baking soda and a non-stick safe brush or sponge (ideally nylon).

How to Season Your Non-Stick Cast-Iron Pan

While non-stick pans make wonderful cooking utensils, they require some extra elbow grease to keep them so wonderful. By seasoning your pan ‒ especially a cast-iron frying pan, griddle or Dutch oven ‒ you’ll help maintain that non-stick surface.

After your pan is clean, season it with olive oil. This also helps you be able to reduce the amount of fat you use during cooking, making the pan easier to clean and helping to expand its lifespan. Not bad for an extra few minutes of work.

To season your pan, you’ll need a teaspoon of olive oil to rub into the surface. Use a paper towel to wipe off any excess oil. Be sure to do this every time you use your cast-iron cookware to guarantee the best, most long-lasting results.

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About the Author

Sarah Kester

Sarah is a writer, editor and cat mom. Lover of wine, rom-coms, and all things self-care, she’s inspired by mindfulness and helping others feel balanced in their lives through meditation, self-love and self-care. After all, what's balance without Saturday morning yoga and green juice and a glass of rosé later that evening? She has written for The Greatest, Elite Daily, YourTango, Vital Proteins, among others. To learn more, you can find her at her website sarahkester.com.