When To Throw Away Your Non-Stick Pan: 5 Signs You Should Know (2023)

How much longer do you need to hang on to your pots and pans even after they start wearing out? Most cookware pieces cost several bucks. That is why throwing them away isn’t an easy decision. Besides, most pans do their jobs even after getting scratched. Unfortunately, not as well as while they were new.

That brings us to the major question; how do you know when to throw away your nonstick pan? Remember, most nonstick pans have their cooking surface coated with a chemical known as Teflon. It is the reason nonstick pans cook well with less oil or butter and are easy to clean. This coating, however, breaks down with time.

We have covered 5 major signs that mean your nonstick cookware isn’t fit for use anymore and should be thrown away. Keep reading to know why, when, and how to dispose of your pan.

5 Signs You Should Know When To Throw Away Your Non-Stick Pan

Every household and kitchen is unique. The differences are brought about by varying social classes, diet, region and so much more. However, there are a lot of reasons why you can throw away your non-stick pan. Therefore, we have discussed the most universal signs that affirm throwing away your nonstick cookware.

1.Warped Nonstick Pans:

Warping is the first obvious sign your pan is losing its value. When you put a very hot pan straight into the sink and pour cold water and soap on it, you’re damaging it. The bottom of your pan, in most cases, is the commonly affected area. The cooking surface becomes uneven and unable to cook uniformly. In as much as your warped pan is still eligible to cook, you might not be impressed with the quality of what’s served.

2. Scratched Nonstick Pans:

The next sign is scratching on your nonstick pan. If you use your nonstick pans frequently, there are high chances of scratching. When the coating starts to come off, you should stop using the cookware because it can flake into your food. You can end up ingesting chemicals that can have adverse effects on your health.

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3. Discolored Nonstick Pans:

Another sign that renders nonstick cookware unusable is discoloration. This happens as a result of food buildup with time. While you can deal with some light discoloration, once the pan gets dark, it is time to dispose of it since it is damaged.

4. Worn Out Handles:

The handles of your cookware can also let you know that it is time to dispose of your nonstick pans. After some time, the handle can get loose and you need to secure it using a screwdriver. You should stop using the pan because it can pose a potential danger when lifting it. You don’t want to injure yourself when the handle falls and everything drops.

5. You Can See Stainless Steel Core:

When the inside of the pan is overused, you will start to see the base of the cookware. This is a sign that you should dispose of the pan and replace it with a new one.

When To Throw Away Your Non-Stick Pan: 5 Signs You Should Know (1)

Why Nonstick Pans Never Last For Long?

Cooking can sensational. Most chefs confess getting attached to some of their cookware and kitchen appliances. It is important to understand why some pieces in your kitchen need to be replaced regularly. Nonstick pans, in that case, are not meant to last more than 5 years.

Once your pan’s cooking surface is discolored, warped, or significantly scratched, you need to think about getting a replacement. Damaged Teflon can become a real health threat from your cooking. Constantly check your long-serving nonstick pans to ensure there are safe and reliable.

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Can You Repair Your Nonstick Pan?

Of course, nonstick pans come with second chances. If the pan doesn’t have any significant damage, it can be repaired. In most cases, discolorations and minor scratches can be mended using a non-stick spray.

All that said, the only way to prolong your nonstick pan’s years of service is proper maintenance, during storage, avoid pilling your pan with things that might damage its nonstick surface. Also, you need to avoid cooking with scratchy accessories. Softwood and silicone-made utensils are advised. Lastly, clean your pan with non-abrasive cleaning materials.

Is It Okay To Use Scratched Nonstick Pans?

It is not recommended to use your nonstick pans when they start to scratch. Some of the coatings can get in your food leading to health problems. The cookware also produces toxins when the nonstick coating comes off. If your nonstick pan is damaged, throw it away for your overall health. Always use wooden utensils to stir food on nonstick cookware. Also, avoid stacking your nonstick pans together.

How To Dispose Of Nonstick Pans?

Once your nonstick pans are not useful anymore, the best thing you can do is to dispose of them. Disposing nonstick cookware can be challenging. Here are some suggestions on how you can dispose of them.

Recycle Bin:

Recycling pans can be hard while it still has the Teflon coating. But you can find some manufacturers who can take the pans and remove the nonstick coating. You can 5talk to the local recycling company to get information on whether they take nonstick cookware.

Mail Back:

If your cookware was high-end, some manufacturers allow you to mail them back the damaged nonstick cookware and you get a free replacement. Check to find out which manufacturers accept damaged nonstick pans for recycling.

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Scrap Metal:

In cases where it is hard for the recycling companies or manufacturers to accept the cookware, you can take them to your local metal scrap yard. When they melt the metal, the nonstick coating separates and they can use the scraps for other purposes.


In situations where you don’t want to dispose of your nonstick cookware, you can use them for other purposes apart from cooking. The pans can be used for camping, décor, kids play kitchen, and as an accessory among other uses.

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

Q: Do nonstick pans go bad?

Nonstick pans do not last forever. You need to replace them after every five years. When you notice your nonstick pans begin to scratch, warp, or discolor, stop using them and buy new pans.

Q: How long should a nonstick pan last?

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The longevity of nonstick pans can vary depending on how you take care of them. The average lifespan of nonstick pans is between one to five years. If the pans are coated with Teflon, they can last for about three years. Nonstick pans with ceramic coating last up to two years.

Q: What temperature is safe for nonstick pans?

Subjecting your nonstick cookware to extreme heat can damage the coating. Most nonstick cookware is safe to use as long as the temperature doesn’t exceed 570 degrees F. Use your nonstick cookware on low to medium heat. Avoid subjecting it to maximum heat or for hotter cooking activities like broiling.

Q: Can nonstick pans handle high heat?

It is important to note that nonstick pans are not designed to handle high heat. High temperatures damage the nonstick coating, and this results to the production of harmful toxins. It is great to use cast iron or stainless steel pan when you need to sear your steak.


Nonstick pans provide healthy cooking and easy cleaning. Since you can’t use them for a lifetime, it is good to understand when you should throw them away. We have enlightened you on the signs that indicate your nonstick cookware is not safe to use.

We have also covered how you can repair your nonstick pans and how to dispose them. So, do not use your nonstick cookware when it starts to warp, discolor, scratch, or when the handles are worn out. These signs indicate that you should replace your nonstick cookware.

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(Video) Non-Stick Cookware Can Be Toxic, Here’s How To Avoid It


When To Throw Away Your Non-Stick Pan: 5 Signs You Should Know? ›

Teflon: Some nonstick pans are sealed with a Teflon coating that can contain PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) or PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), which can create toxic fumes when heated. These toxic fumes may cause what is known as “polymer fume fever.” Symptoms include breathing difficulty, fever and sore throat.

How do you know if a pan is toxic? ›

Teflon: Some nonstick pans are sealed with a Teflon coating that can contain PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) or PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), which can create toxic fumes when heated. These toxic fumes may cause what is known as “polymer fume fever.” Symptoms include breathing difficulty, fever and sore throat.

What are the warnings about non-stick pans? ›

Dangers of overheating. Generally speaking, Teflon is a safe and stable compound. However, at temperatures above 500°F (260°C), Teflon coatings on nonstick cookware start to break down, releasing toxic chemicals into the air ( 18 ). Inhaling these fumes may lead to polymer fume fever, also known as the Teflon flu.

Should I throw away my scratched non-stick pan? ›

If you see scratches, that means the nonstick Teflon surface has been compromised and the chemicals could be flaking off into your food. Not good! To be safe, once a pan is scratched it's gotta go.

What is the lifespan of a non-stick frying pan? ›

According to TheKitchn, you can expect about five years out of your non-stick pots and pans; it's time to retire anything with a surface that's pitted or starts to peel (to make sure it lasts that long, they offer some tips for taking care of them).

Is my non stick pan making me sick? ›

Cooking with Teflon can make a person sick with a temporary flu if a nonstick pan gets overheated. "It feels like the flu," said Houlihan, "headaches, chills, backache, temperature between 100 and 104 degrees."

Is my nonstick pan toxic? ›

Yes, you should be concerned. The chemicals used to manufacture non-stick coatings harm human health and the environment. Per- and polyfluorinated compounds (PFAS) are a class of chemicals used to make things non-stick, stain-resistant, and waterproof.

What type of nonstick cookware is non toxic? ›

Our Top Non-Toxic Cookware Picks:

Best Set: Green Pan Valencia Pro 11-Piece Cookware Set. Best Budget: GreenLife Soft Grip Set. Most Durable: Xtrema Versa Skillet. Best Stainless Steel: All-Clad d3 Cookware Set.

Are Teflon non stick pans safe? ›

More than 50 years of consumer use, along with laboratory testing and published peer-reviewed research, has affirmed that cookware made with Teflon™ nonstick coatings is safe for both consumer and commercial use at normal cooking temperatures. Myth: Nonstick coatings wear off easily.

When should I replace my non stick cookware? ›

Nonstick pans don't last forever. Here's how to know when it's time for a new one.
Look for three tell-tale signs.
  1. If the coating is flaking off in pieces, toss it. ...
  2. If the coating looks deeply scratched and dry. ...
  3. If everything just seems to be sticking.
Feb 27, 2022

What happens if you use a spoon on a non stick pan? ›

Using metal utensils in your nonstick pan.

Metal can scratch or chip the coating and if that happens, you'll definitely need to replace the pan rather than continue using it.

Are old non stick pans safe? ›

Teflon cookware made before 2013 may be toxic

But Teflon using PFOA wasn't officially banned in the United States until 2014. Europe banned it in 2008. That means if you own Teflon nonstick cookware from 2013 or earlier, there's a chance it contains PFOA.

When should you throw away pans? ›

Signs That Reveal It's Time to Get Rid of Old Cookware
  1. Nonstick cookware is scratched or pitted.
  2. Pan bottom is warped and doesn't sit flush on the cooktop. This will cause uneven cooking.
  3. Loose handles. ...
  4. The stainless steel copper core is visible inside pan. ...
  5. Cracks or peeling.
Sep 6, 2022

Which pans last longest? ›

Stainless steel pans are designed to last a lifetime, and won't react with any food types. They're also dishwasher safe. Stainless steel on its own is liable to hot spots, so copper or aluminium is usually incorporated into the base.

What not to do with a non stick frying pan? ›

Just as direct heat can be damaging to empty nonstick pans, any degree of high heat can also be detrimental to their durability, whether empty or full. Always place your nonstick pans over low or moderate heat.

How do you know when to throw away pans? ›

A good rule of thumb is to replace them approximately every five years. Look at your pans frequently. When they start to appear warped, discolored or scratched, be sure to stop using them. If you're looking for replacement pans, we have great affordable options in our Taste of Home collection.

Can you get food poisoning from a pan? ›

A Possibility of Food Poisoning

A pan that is warped or damaged may sit unevenly on the stove top. Though your food may still cook through, it's more likely that not everything will get cooked as evenly as it's supposed to. Uneven cooking introduces the possibility for food poisoning.

How do I know if my pan has lead? ›

A swab tests positive at 600 parts per million lead and above, so if your pan turns a LeadCheck swab pink is likely that the surface lead on the inside of the pan is least 600 ppm lead (and levels well below that can be toxic if on a food prep surface). Note: if it turns darker brighter orange (vs.

What are the most toxic cooking pans? ›

Teflon cookware

It's also the most dangerous. The non-stick properties of Teflon cookware are achieved with a coating of PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), which is a plastic polymer that starts to leach toxins when heated above 572°F.


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