Warning: you're probably washing your frying pans wrong

Have we been washing our pans all wrong? [Photo: Getty]

Hands up who cleans their dirty pans in the sink? That’ll be most of us then. But turns out washing our frying pans in this way could be harming the environment.

That’s according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), who have issued new guidance on how we should be cleaning our pans in order to save water.

Instead of just rinsing under the tap, they are advising you wait until oil in your pan has cooled before scraping the excess off to reuse or bin.

They then suggest we wipe leftover grease out of the pan with kitchen roll before finally washing.

The department has released the guidance as part of its new Love Water campaign, which aims to reduce the amount of oil we pour into our waterways as a nation.

If washed off with water, the oil and fat can harden in pipes, causing fatbergs to form.

Just one litre of oil poured down the sink can pollute one million litres of water, DEFRA said.

But that isn’t the only mistake we’re making when it comes to cleaning our saucepans.

Using the wrong thing to clean them

Scratched pans? Put it down to what your using to clean it.

According to Joanne Archer from Expert Home Tips scourers are a complete no-no.

“When cleaning non-stick pans, you should only use the soft side of a sponge,” she says. “The scourer side is much too abrasive. If you clean your pans soon after cooking, you shouldn't need much scrubbing power anyway.”

Cleaning expert Roxanna Pelka from Helpling suggests using a damp dish cloth with a splash of detergent.

Turns out how we stack our pans could be causing them to scratch too. “If you want to keep your pans in good condition, make space for them,” Archer says.

“Stacking your pans will only cause scratches. If you don't have the space to spread them out, you can protect them with some felt pan pads.”

And avoiding metal utensils when cooking will help keep your pans in good nick.

“Metal utensils will quickly scratch away that non-stick coating,” Archer warns. She suggests using wood or silicone utensils to preserve a pans longeivity.

READ MORE: 5 of the best eco-friendly laundry products

Why you shouldn't put non-stick pans in the dishwasher [Photo: Getty]

Putting non-stick pans in the dishwasher

Under no circumstances should you put your pans in the dishwasher, warns Pelka. The high temperatures will wear down the non-stick coating and the cleaning detergents are too strong so will also damage the coating.

Washing in extreme temperatures

”Water that's too hot or too cold can damage the non-stick coating, especially if your pans are still hot from cooking,” warns Archer.

“A lot of us are guilty of rinsing our pans immediately after cooking, but you should leave it to cool a little first.

“We're not saying you should leave them long enough for the food residue to harden, about 5-10 minutes of cooling time should do the trick.

“Wash in warm, soapy water for best results,” she adds.

Washing copper pans wrong

The copper trend shows no sign of letting up, but your once-shiny copper pan is likely to dull merely because of the way your cleaning it.

Pelka says all you need to wash your copper is a mixture of vinegar and salt. “Make a mixture of water, a few splashes of vinegar and a teaspoon of salt. Then take a soft clean cloth, rub the copper with the solution and let the mixture work for about half an hour,” she advises.

And if you really want to make it shine? Try tomato ketchup.

“It contains vinegar that lightens the copper. Simply apply a thick layer of ketchup, leave on for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly and rub dry,” she says.

Archer suggests investing in some Bar Keepers Friend. “This is my favourite cleaning product for keeping pans looking sparkling clean,” she says. “It's great at removing stains from the underside of pans, and it's even better for copper.

READ MORE: Why cleaning is good for your mental health

Not going au natural

While many of us reach for the washing up liquid when we’re washing our pans, there are some really good natural hacks to keep your saucepans sparkling.

Here are some expert-backed natural cleaning hacks

Leave a dryer sheet to soak in your pans - “We're not sure why this works, but the results speak for themselves!” says Archer.

“Just fill the pan with warm water, washing up liquid and a dryer sheet. Wait one hour and any hard food residue will clean off easily.”

Use vinegar and baking soda - “Sprinkle baking soda into the pan. Mix 250ml warm water and 100ml vinegar. Pour the solution into the pan and it'll fizz away, lifting off any stubborn dirt,” Archer advises.

Try sugar cubes - “Another easy way to remove food residue from a pan is to rub the surface with a sugar cube,” Archer suggests.

“It has a slightly abrasive surface that'll take food off cleanly, without scratching the pan.”