How long does cookware last? (When should you replace non stick pans)

Youve probably had the same pots and pans for years and some may have started looking funky. It may be a while before one decides to replace them since cookware can last long if one knows how to properly clean them. Contrary to foodstuff, it is not easy to keep tabs on cookware since they dont come with expiration dates.

Cookware generally lasts around 3-5 years and may be dependent on how one maintains them, their quality and as stated above, if they are cleaned according to the material they are made of. It may seem self-explanatory to replace your cookware as soon as they start staining but sometimes most cookware just needs thorough cleaning to look good as new.

Factors that may affect how long cookware last

Heat conductivity:

Contrary to what people think, copper is actually a better conductor of heat than stainless steel. The better the heat conductivity the more evenly your food will cook.


If you never knew that food reacts with metal then now you know. Have you ever cooked tomatoes and it reacted with the pan? That would have definitely been aluminum since it reacts with acidic dishes.

If you want your cookware to serve you longer, make sure when purchasing that you get a metal pan that would accommodate all dishes or get one for every occasion depending on the state of your pockets.


Many people find it hard to maintain cookware either how they store it or clean it. When purchasing a pan, make sure you have an idea of how youd want to store it and get to know how best to clean it so that the items longevity increases. That said, stainless steel is easily among the easiest type of cookware to maintain.


The material used to make the pots and pans also plays an important part as the sturdier cast iron pans, will almost always outlive cookware made from any other material.

Cookware doesnt last forever truth be told, and some get too old to use or rusty. For instance, pans and pots. This are the most commonly used cookware in our houses and just like any other household item, they do have a longevity period.

When should pans and pots be replaced?

  • If the core is beginning to peek under the coating because food may start reacting with the coating which wouldnt be as healthy especially for the non-stick pans.
  • When the cookware rusts. Rust is not easy to clean because it needs effort and you are really not assured it wont re-rust. This can be seen as a health hazard.
  • Chipped enamel cast iron which may lead to rusting.
  • When the handles are broken or bent (dependent on the owner).

How to know when to replace non stick pans?

A while back pans were a hustle to use since food stuck on them making the cooking process unpleasant and lets not even talk about the cleaning.

Then came the non-stick pans!

Non-stick pans are those that have a special coating (non stick coating) where the pan allows food to brown without sticking to the pan. The coating is made out of polytetrafluoroethylene branded as Teflon.

According to research, it is advisable to replace your non-stick pan as soon as its surface starts to peel because the coating used on the pan reacts with the food and may be a health hazard.

So rather than being sorry, the only safe way to use these pans is to be aware of how to take care of the pans so as to increase their usage because who wouldnt want to save some cash?

How to know when to replace stainless steel cookware?

We dont always know the best cookware to purchase especially if we are merely looking for cookware to use in our day to day activities. You may find yourself with a stainless-steel pan thats always giving you a hard time when trying to cook something quick.

You know its time to get new stainless-steel cookware is when:

  • The cookware especially pots or pans get hot spots which will always burn the food every time they are used.
  • When your food doesnt cook evenly or takes longer despite the amount of time used in cooking. This may be that the base is not bonded with good conductors of heat.
  • If the handle is broken. This though may depend solely on you as the user of the item.
  • If the cookware has warpage which may be caused by heat or dropping the cookware

Normally, pans and pots are the most commonly used cookware in our homes and being aware of how to take care of them in terms of maintenance and cleaning would increase how long they are used.

They may really not last forever but would probably be used for the longest time.

Not many of us like doing dishes and that is why stainless-steel cookware is preferred.

You can scrub and scrape with any material but it would still be the same because it matures slowly contrary to other material. Its cleaning is easy and maintaining its shiny is a matter of minutes but as it is known You get what you pay for, cheap stainless steel wouldnt do you any justice.

Stainless steel cookware that is not of substantial quality would give you a headache in the kitchen rather than easy time preparing a meal.

According to Riley Henderson of, unless a bonded aluminum or copper base is used, its heat conductivity would be poor.

To find out whether you have quality stainless steel cookware, you check:

  • If the cookware base is copper or aluminum bonded for heat conductivity since stainless steel is not a good conductor of heat.
  • Make sure while purchasing that you read the manual before hand and look out for any other material used in making the cookware. According to chefs, best stainless steel cookware has a minimum of 10% nickel and 18% chromium which help protect the cookware from rust and stains.

How to care for non-stick pans

  • First of all, avoid cooking sprays since they form residues on the pan causing the food to cook unevenly and counteract the nature of the pan.
  • While cleaning it, avoid the dishwasher since it may be too harsh considering the temperatures and detergent.
  • Be sure to add the oil or butter on the cold surface before heating it. If the oil is added while hot, it may more likely soak in the food than help the non-stick surface.
  • Avoid using metal spoons while cooking since they may scratch the surface exposing the food to the coating. Wooden spoons are the best for non-stick pans.
  • Periodically season the pan to keep it working at its best.
  • You will know its time to replace your pan when the surface starts to peel or becomes pitted.

How to clean and care for pans and pots depending on the type of material they are made of:

Cleaning Stainless steel cookware

  • Cover bottom of pan with vinegar then sprinkle with baking soda, let it sit for a while, rinse and then wash as normal.
  • After cooking with it, heat the pan then add hot water. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the food residues to avoid the food sticking and making cleaning a difficult process.
  • For tougher stains, add baking soda and water to form a paste, let it sit for 15 minutes then scrub with a cloth or sponge.

Cleaning Non-stick pans

  • Wash the pan by hand, not through the dishwasher since dishwashing-detergent and the temperatures may damage the pan. Use a mild soap and sponge.
  • Soak the pan in warm, soapy water to remove bacteria and break up grease and residue.
  • To store them, hang them with space in-between them to avoid them scarping each other.
  • Pans arent meant to store food, so be sure to transfer left overs to containers for refrigeration.

Cleaning Ceramic pans

Compared to non-stick pans, ceramic pans are pricier but efficient. They require less grease and they dont have the harmful substances that the non-stick may contain. It is quite an investment and totally worth it.

  • After use, let the pan cool then clean it with a soft sponge and warm soapy water. Do not use any abrasive items, steel wool or nylon. It may be too harsh on the ceramic pan.
  • If food gets burnt on the pan, soak the pan with cold water then clean it as normal after about 30 thirty minutes.
  • Use proper cookware to avoid damaging the pan. Use wood, silicone or nylon while cooking.
  • Like non-stick pans, avoid using cooking sprays on ceramic pans due to the buildup of residue.

Cleaning Aluminum cookware

You may have noticed that after a while, your aluminum pot or pan may grow dull in appearance. This is held to be caused by oxidation where a patina covers the surface. Contrary to the harmful coating in non-stick pans, the patina formed through oxidation is not harmful but actually protects the metal.

To maintain the aluminum shine, you should:

  • Wash it thoroughly with dishwashing liquid and water. It may need more effort to remove the patina but totally worth it.
  • For any burnt food, add water then bring it to a boil. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the food off then wash as usual.