How To Recycle Or Dispose Of Old Pots And Pans

Cookware, like most metallic items, has a timeline. Outward signs of wear and tear become evident and especially the non-stick cookware. The coatings on the surface varnish.

Using them on the stove, wear them out until they become unusable. The non-stick frying pans lose their main characteristic, and you know the consumption of the coatings could be carcinogenic.

Knowing when to recycle or dispose of your pans and pots is not clear cut and dry because it depends on what old is to you and if there is a possibility to clean them and make them look new. Before you decide to recycle or dispose of, do the following:

Try Cleaning Or Fixing The Pans And Pots First

Interestingly, your pans and pots may be looking old because you do not clean them thoroughly, so they are all gross looking. Often, prolonged soaking can get the job done, getting the black residue off the pan.

If that does not make it better, try cleaning them differently according to the material.

Stainless steel

Use a little warm vinegar and let it sit for a while then scrub. Use an oven cleaner for the bottom part of the pan following the instructions given on the container.

For any burn stains inside the pan/pot, use a little vinegar, baking soda, and water, then wash it out. These liquids help loosen the dirt and get that pan shining in no time.

Non-stick cookware

This one is a bit tricky, especially if the coating has already worn out. It may be time to upcycle it or dispose of it, but if the coating is entirely intact, then white vinegar and water could help clean it—even the outside part of the pan.

Cast iron

 This is one resilient cookware material and lasts long when appropriately treated. If you neglected it cleaning may be quite a task, but nothing a salt scrub combined with vinegar wouldn’t try to help. Some people even use potatoes to remove rust on it.

Aluminum pans and pots

Well, this one needs more loving and saving it may be an uphill task. Cream of tartar, lemon juice, and water may help. For the outside, baking soda and a scouring pad would be beneficial. Just know you might feel like you just did some arm workout after that.

Other materials that you could use to clean your pots and pans for a good as new look are:

  • Soda
  • Ketchup
  • Alka seltzer
  • Dryer sheet which loosens burnt food that has stuck on the pan.
  • Salt
  • Cream of tartar

What about the non-stick pans, can they be recoated? Yes, they can be recoated by merely cleaning and seasoning them. This gets all the scratches and stains off the pan, making it look new.

The most used way of seasoning the non-stick pan is by spraying it with a layer of oil on its surface. Clean it first with baking soda and white vinegar and let that mixture sit for a while.

Apply heat on the bottom of the pan then stop. Wash the pan with soap and dry with a cloth. Avoid using a scouring pad, which may cause scratches on the pan. After that, apply a thin layer of oil on the surface to keep the non-stick element effective.

Then use heat to the pan till the surface dries. Wipe any excess oil and d that when the pan is cool enough. Repeat this every six months.

So, what if they can’t be washed or fixed to newness? 

Repurposing Old pots And Pans

Old worn out Pans

Repurposing means to use something or modifying it to serve a purpose it wasn’t originally intended to do. Let’s say you already tried salvaging that pot, as we discussed above to no success.

It is now not appropriate for cooking, and you are thinking of clearing the old pans out. Please do not throw them away yet. Below we will look at ways you can repurpose them and make them useful.


Most people find it hard going camping with their daily functional pans and pots, which is understandable. That is where these old pans come in handy. If they are still useable for heating food, then keep them with other camping items. Using them when you go for your camps will increase their timeline.

Use them as decor

Old copperware cookware looks aesthetically pleasing and does not need to be disposed of. As long as it still looks decent, clean them up, and arrange them in the kitchen. Iron skillets can also be hung over a stove or on the wall and add some pomp in the kitchen.

Use them for a play kitchen for your kids.

Now that you do not, you won’t be using them in the kitchen, let the kids have them. Just make sure the pots or pans have no rough edges that could hurt them. Also, make sure they are not too heavy to avoid any injuries when they carry them.

Use it as an accessory. 

Consider painting it next time during Halloween and use it to hold candy for the trick or treaters.

Old copperware cookware enhancing the aesthetic

Recycling Old pans And Pots

Recycling is when you convert waste material into a new material or object. For the pots and pans, the ones you cannot even repurpose are the ones you recycle.

Remember that they are mostly metallic, and we want to reduce the probability of having to dispose of them completely. For recycling, it would be good to get in touch with a local recycling center near you, and they will be able to direct you on how to recycle them efficiently.

They will want to know if your pans are:

  • Ferrous or non-ferrous
  • Had a non-stick coating
  • Magnetic

If a pan utilizes some non-coating, it will not be recycled with the rest so that the carcinogenic chemical is not spread to the rest. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s website to know more about the cookware.

Another option is TerraCycle, an organization that accepts and repurposes hard to recycle materials that your community recycles center may have refused to take. They give you a Separation Zero Waste Box that you can fill with any kitchenware you want to get rid of. 

How To Dispose Of Old Pots And Pans

Wearing out of pans and pots is inevitable, and it reaches a time you need to dispose of them. They should not be thrown into the trash just like that. Disposing of them doesn’t just mean throwing them away. It means recycling, reusing, or making them useful in some way. 

  1. Find a scrap metal facility that can take up your old pots and pans. They are broken down to separate all the metals they may be made of, then they are re-worked to make other things. Useful than throwing it out, right?