How to remove odor from non-stick pans after cooking

It is not common for cookware to smell after washing. Stainless steel pans do not hold or absorb odors. But sometimes, that is not the case for non-stick pans.

Generally, the non-stick coating can and often does retain some smells. When you use these pans for cooking foods like fish or sautéing onions, they tend to retain the food odor.

You can remove the smell by scrubbing the pan’s interior and exterior, including the handle. However, sometimes the smell never comes out. So, why does your non-stick pan smell even after cleaning?

Why do non-stick pans smell?

Non-stick pans have a coating made up of a material called Teflon. This plastic material does retain taste and odor. When cooking food at high heat frequently, the plastic coating begins to break down.

As it continues to break down, you may notice that the pan smells like chemicals. After several uses, it starts to retain food odors.

But many other reasons can explain why your non-stick pan smells after cooking. These include:

  • You are cooking foods with a strong odor. Some examples include fish, garlic, and onions.
  • You are using specific cooking sprays and oils. Oils that degrade quickly could be the reason your non-stick pan smells. Also, some sprays tend to season the non-stick pan over time, thus causing the odor. Aerosol cooking sprays are mostly the culprit.

Luckily, there are several steps you can take to remove the smell from non-stick pans. Here are a few.

1. Baking soda and newspapers

Baking soda and newspapers work exceptionally well in removing odor from non-stick pans. Here is the procedure to follow:

  • Clean the non-stick pan using a sponge and water to remove food particles.
  • Mix one cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water.
  • Adjust the ratio of either water or baking soda as needed until you have a spreadable paste.
  • Coat the pan with the baking soda paste.
  • Cover the pan with some newspapers. You can also seal it with a bag if possible.
  • Let the treatment work for about two hours.

After the two hours elapse, wash the pan using warm water and dish soap.

If you do not prefer using newspapers, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water to remove lingering food smells and flavors. In this case:

  • Pour some water on the pan.
  • Sprinkle some baking soda.
  • Let the mixture sit for two hours.
  • Rise and wash the pan.

You can use either treatment frequently to get rid of the smell from pots and pans.

2. Vinegar

You can use vinegar to remove odors from non-stick pans. The best way of doing it is to soak the entire pan in white vinegar. Let the treatment work for about an hour.

Once done, rinse and wash the non-stick pan using warm water and soap. Alternatively:

  • Mix three parts water with one part vinegar or lemon join.
  • Boil the mixture in the non-stick pan.
  • Use medium heat to boil the water for about 20 minutes.
  • Use warm water and soap with a soft-bristle brush to clean the pan.

Give the pan a rinse and let it dry. For the best results, use Calyptus 45% Pure Super Concentrated vinegar.

Does vinegar ruin non-stick pans?

Most non-stick pans have a coating made up of Teflon. Vinegar does not affect the Teflon, if used properly.

Furthermore, other types of non-stick pans, such as anodized aluminum or ceramic, will not spoil when washed with vinegar.

Vinegar is a mild acid. Even when using it to wash utensils, chances are you will dilute it further. The dilution will not have any effects on your pan.

We have explained how to clean non-stick pans with vinegar to avoid ruining them. Make sure to check it out.

3. Salt


Salt is a mild antiseptic. It will cut through grease, lift stains, and remove odors from pans. Here is how to use it:

  • Wipe the pan to get rid of food remains.
  • Add a sizeable amount of salt to the pan.
  • Scrub the non-stick cookware using a non-corrosive brush or sponge.
  • Rinse the pan and let it dry.

You can also use a mixture of soap and lemon to remove odors from non-stick cookware.


If your non-stick pan still smells after washing, you can remove the odor using different methods.

The easiest option is to coat the pan with baking soda paste, let it sit for several hours, and then wash it. You can also use salt, vinegar, and lemon to eliminate the smell.