Why Are My Non-Stick Pans Sticking?

by Sommer Leigh

While non-stick pans are marketed as the pans that never stick, this isn't always the case. Sometimes the pans do stick and it's often related to misuse. These pans are usually coated with several layers of a heavy duty coating that little should penetrate. But if you don't care for the pan properly -- including before its first use -- your food may stick to the pan instead of sliding off of it.


Manufacturers of non-stick pans, such as Calphalon, explain that a residue on the surface of the pan may cause food to stick. This residue commonly comes from the oils in the foods you prepare in the pan. The residue is not always removed through regular dish washing.

Removing the Residue

To remove the residue, soak the pan in a sink filled with hot water and a few drops of a liquid dishwashing detergent. After the pan soaks for awhile, scrub off the residue with a non-scratch scrub sponge or a soft bristled brush. If the residue still does not come off, apply a cleanser with bleach to the pan for extra cleaning power. Never use a scouring pad since it can scratch the non-stick finish, which can also cause food to stick to your non-stick pan.

Preventing the Residue

Most non-stick pans benefit from an initial seasoning when first purchased and thereafter, even if the manufacturer claims oil is not necessary. Simply rinse the pan under warm water, dry it and rub it with a paper towel moistened with oil. After each use, apply a little oil or butter to the pan for lubrication. Refrain from using cooking sprays as the soy lecithin in them can cause build-up -- another possible source of the residue.

For Further Assistance

Because each manufacturer uses different coatings and material in its pans' construction, other factors may affect the performance and non-stick ability of the pans. Contact the manufacturer to troubleshoot what may cause the pans to malfunction.

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About the Author

Sommer Leigh has produced home, garden, family and health content since 1997 for such nationally known publications as "Better Homes and Gardens," "Ladies' Home Journal," "Midwest Living," "Healthy Kids" and "American Baby." Leigh also owns a Web-consulting business and writes for several Internet publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in information technology and Web management from the University of Phoenix.