Cleaning a pan can be challenging, especially when the pan has burnt bits deeply embedded in the non-stick surface.

In this tutorial, I will be showing you my method for cleaning my Scanpan Skillet. “Scanpan” is a high-end line of cooking cookware with a non-stick finish that has a lifetime guarantee.

I realized after I downsized from a 3 bedroom home in Missouri to my tiny-house-style studio in downtown Seattle that I needed to trade in my pikes of pots and pans for just a few pieces of high-quality cookware. Luckily, living in the Pike Place neighborhood has the advantage of having a Sur La Table in my backyard, so after marching myself down there several times drooling over the $80 Skillet I had in mind, I finally worked up the gusto to make the purchase.

280 Square Foot Studio Apartment in Belltown Seattle
Moving from to downtown Seattle for grad school landed me with this 5×3′ kitchen anre required totally relearning how to cook with limited cookware.

I purchased a Scanpan because I was tired of buying a new $25-$30 skillet every year. Inevitably I would buy the latest greatest but (on the cheap side) non-stick skillet and find a few weeks later that the surface was already beginning to become less non-stick. Cast iron skillets- though one did follow me to Seattle for use mostly in my oven- were too difficult to clean and re-season in tiny kitchen (which boasts floor space of roughly 3ft x 5ft). The lightweight Scanpan came to the rescue, being easy to maneuver, a dream to clean, and light enough to hang on my pot rack.

Cooking with the Scanpan was a dream for the first 5 or 6 months. But, after a while, even though I only hand-washed my pan, I began to find that the non-stick surface was not working as well. A few weeks later, the pan became essentially useless unless well greased and I was just about ready to march myself back to Sur La Table, receipt in hand, and have a conversation about this “lifetime nonstick warranty.”

Restoring a nonstick finish on a crusty old nonstick pan
My now non-nonstick pan

Before attempting the return, I decided to try a deeper clean than the dishsoap and sponge method I used for everyday cleanup.

The Scanpan website recommends this method for deep cleaning:

"Burn marks due to overheating or charring of fatty substances can be removed by filling the product ¾ with water, bring to a slow boil using medium heat, add a tablespoon of detergent (for dishwasher or washing machine, not for handwash), simmer for 15 minutes, and rinse. "

“Laundry soap for the breakfast skillet? Weird, but ok!” I thought. And dutifully followed instructions- with no significant improvement to the surface of my now very non-nonstick Scanpan skillet.

When that didn’t work, I decided to experiment with alternate cleaning methods. The method that finally worked was a mash up between the manufacturer’s instructions, old-fashioned cleaning tips, and one modern cleaning tool. Read on to learn more about how I restored the finish on my non-stick skillet.

Restoring a nonstick finish on a crusty old nonstick pan

With a few secret weapons and a bit of elbow grease, I’ve been able to restore my scanpan to almost-new condition and the nonstick finish back to being able to cook, fold, and plate the perfect omelette.

You’ll need:

 

Step By Step Instructions:

Prefer a video to step by step instructions? View the entire process start to finish in this video (or just keep reading!)

To clean the skillet, I place 4 to 6 tablespoons of water in the skillet and warm it to boiling on the stove top. Once both the water and the pan are hot, I remove the skillet (being careful not to spill the water) to a stable surface away from the hot stove.

 

There, I place about 2 tablespoons of baking soda into the skillet. While in the video I’m working with room-temperature materials, this method works best when used HOT, so get yourself some thick rubber gloves to protect your hands from heat.

 

Using a Mr. clean Magic eraser, combine water baking soda into a paste and then vigorously scrub the paste all along the surface of the pan, focusing on areas that are visibly not nonstick anymore due to burned food remnants.

 

In the video still you can see the sponge begins to discolor as the pain is scrubbed, even though this skillet had already been well washed. When working with a warm skillet and hot water, this transfer is much much faster, so you’ll need to stop, rinse the pan, rinse the sponge, and start the process all over again with a new batch of water heated on the stovetop.

Restoring a nonstick finish on a crusty old nonstick pan

When done regularly (every 2-3 months) this method can restore my non-stick skillet to a like-new finish in less than 5 minutes, if it’s been too-long since the last deep clean, it can take 3-4 rounds of this treatment and some real elbow grease. – Time well spent to get  a like new nonstick finish on my well loved and heavily used nonstick skillet.

When done, be sure and do a final wash with soap and water to rinse out any residue from the cleaning sponge.

cleaning a non-stick pan

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