Why It's A Bad Idea To Put Nonstick Cookware In The Dishwasher

Tossing pots and pans in the dishwasher after an exhausting day is a luxury in modern kitchens. After all, who wants to scrub, scrape, and soak after-meal debris when there's a finely functioning machine waiting to hasten your evening downtime? But not so fast! If you're a fan of nonstick cookware, there are some pretty convincing reasons to think twice before loading in your pots and pans.

Many companies claim their nonstick cookware is dishwasher safe, but that doesn't always mean it's the best option. Teflon, a well-known maker of nonstick coatings, states that its product is dishwasher safe if the manufacturer is trustworthy and the user follows written care instructions. But being safe and being optimal are not always the same thing.

A few small factors can make a big difference in how your nonstick kitchen buddies withstand the hot shower cleansing routine of a typical dishwasher.

Pan materials and construction affect dishwasher safety

Statistics revealed by Good Housekeeping show non-stick cookware racked up sales of at least $1.8 billion in 2021, so it's no surprise these pots and pans parade across stovetops around the U.S. and abroad. But before you throw yours in the dishwasher, you may want to consider the construction of your pots and pans to determine the best care techniques.

Pantry and Larder points out that even if the nonstick coating itself is dishwasher safe, pans made of aluminum do not fare well in the appliance, as it can cause them to corrode. The outlet also explains the effects of high water temperatures and abrasive chemicals used in typical dishwasher settings can gradually weaken the nonstick coating and make it vulnerable to erosion or peeling.

Designed to bully caked-on food and stains, dishwashers can batter the sensitive nonstick surface over time. And guess where that unstable coating could end up: in your food.

The dishwasher itself isn't the only issue

Another concern about putting nonstick cookware in the dishwasher is the compatibility of its shower-mates. Just open your dishwasher at the end of a cycle and note the conglomerate of utensils, glassware, knives, and baking dishes — all a potential threat to the delicate surface of your beloved pans. Pantry and Larder says that just because they look orderly and sparkling clean at the end doesn't mean there weren't some shenanigans going on behind closed doors. Metal utensils in particular can break loose and ding or damage other dishes and cookware.

The answer for how to avoid this and other dishwasher dangers is the simplest — lather up and wash by hand. Taking a few extra minutes to do so can significantly extend the lifespan of your nonstick pots and pans. World of Pans recommends avoiding abrasive sponges and instead employing nylon scrubbers for caked-on accumulations. You can always soak your nonstick pan if you have particularly difficult or burnt-on food, but the outlet does say to stick to lukewarm water and eco-friendly soaps, as both will be kinder to your pan's coating.