Cookware Lifetime: When Should You Replace Them?

Cookware Lifetime: When Should You Replace Them?

We keep a close eye on the expiration date of food items, and with items like milk, we throw it out immediately because it turns sour and chunky once it expires.

However, with cookware, it’s a little tricky to tell when it has reached the end of its life.

One thing is for sure – you will need to replace it at some point, and we’re going to help you figure out when you need to do this.

Read on as we look at the lifespan of different types of cookware and what the best way is to make them last longer.

What Is The Average Lifetime Of Different Types Of Cookware?

There is no specific number that indicates when it’s time to get rid of your cookware.

Different types of cookware have different life spans and deteriorate at different rates:

Pots & Pans

Cast Iron Pans

The average lifespan of non-stick cookware is around 5 years. However, if the coating starts peeling before that, then their lifetime may be shorter.

There are some ways by which you can ensure that your non-stick cookware stays intact for a long time:

  • Wash it by hand instead of putting it in the dishwasher. In addition to this, add a little baking soda when washing to get the grit off without using too much force. Skip the metallic brushes and use a soft sponge so that it doesn’t graze the surface.
  • Whenever you are cooking, add a little oil or butter to eliminate any chances of your food sticking to the pan.
  • Use a wooden, silicone, or food-safe plastic spoon/spatula when handling food in a non-stick pan.
  • Steer clear of commercial cooking sprays since these contain chemicals which will make the non-stick coating deteriorate faster.

Ceramic Cookware

Ceramic cookware generally has a short lifespan of just about a year. Some good quality ceramics may last for up to 3 years.

Over the years, many people have switched to ceramics because the ceramic coating on the cookware is free of PTFE and PFOA (the harmful chemicals that were previously found in non-stick coatings).

They’re also non-stick and generally very easy to clean.

However, over time, the ceramic coating will start to crack and chip and mix in with your food, at which point, the cookware needs to be replaced.

In order to keep the coating intact for a longer period of time, it is advisable to gently hand wash the cookware and not exposing it to very high temperatures, such as baking in a very hot oven.

Also, avoid using metal utensils with these since they can scratch off the coating faster.

Cutting Boards

Knife On Cutting Board

Regardless of the material of your cutting board, it is important to wash them thoroughly with warm water when you’re done cutting your food.

Their lifetime varies based on the material. Wooden boards may get worn out faster than stone or plastic ones.

If your cutting board has too many divots and the surface has become uneven, it is important to replace it because not only will it become more inconvenient to use, but the small cracks will accumulate bacteria, which can inevitably give you an upset stomach.  

Cooking Appliances

In the past, cooking appliances were only replaced if they were completely beyond repair.

Now, with constant innovations, replacing appliances may not necessarily be based on their longevity but rather on the need they fulfill.

For instance, you may replace your older, heavier microwave with a sleeker one that has more fast-cooking options.

That being said, if you don’t really care about getting a voice-activated coffee maker, you can continue using your old appliances as long as they’re still working properly.

Dish Towels & Oven Mitts

Dish towels and oven mitts are often used to handle cookware when it’s hot.

Dish towels can soak up and store bacteria in their fibers, so it’s important to wash them daily.

If the towel has torn and worn out completely, get rid of it.

Depending on the material of the oven mitt, you may need to wash it daily or clean it with a damp cloth.

Some modern silicone mitts are easier to clean while the cloth ones need to be rinsed with warm water.

Why And When Should You Buy A New Set Of Cookware?

Woman Buying New Cookware

Regardless of whether we’re talking about stirring spoons, spatulas, woks, frying pans or Dutch ovens, there are certain telltale signs that it’s time to stock up on new cookware:

The Cookware Has Become Warped

Warped cookware won’t release any harmful chemicals or bits of coating into your food, but it will affect the cooking quality.

This can happen if, say, you just took a pan off the stove and immediately ran it under cold water.

Once you’ve washed the pan, place it on a flat surface – if it wobbles, then your food won’t get heated evenly, and some parts may be over or undercooked.

If you’re not too concerned about this, you don’t need to replace your cookware, especially if it happens after just the first few uses.

The Coating on Your Stainless Steel Cookware Has Worn Off

If your stainless steel pots and pans are very heavy, it’s because they are supported by a thick base to allow the heat to spread evenly as you cook.

However, if the stainless steel exterior has started chipping, it’s time to replace your cookware since it can chip off into your food as well.

It’s usually quite easy to tell when the stainless steel is wearing off because the base will be of a different color.

The Non-Stick Coating is scratched off

For most of us, our non-stick cooking pans are a blessing and are often the most used.

However, it is very easy for the non-stick coating to be scraped or scratched off.

Once this starts happening, you need to get rid of it since the coating can end up in your food and eventually make its way into your stomach.

The coating that leaches into your food may contain perfluorooctanoic acid, which has been linked to many serious health concerns like impacting your metabolic system, causing infertility, and other problems due to its carcinogenic properties.

The Copper Coating in Your Cookware is wearing off

Old Cookware

Many chefs enjoy making food in copper cookware because it’s a heat conductor, and not only does it cook your food evenly, but it also heats up very quickly.

However, you have to be extra careful with copper cookware, where even a single scratch or crack can be a risk to your health.

The copper can seep into your food and build up in your stomach.

If you start suffering from copper toxicity, you will suffer health problems like abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and so on.

With copper cookware, you can get the interior re-tinned.

However, this can be a bit pricey, and if it doesn’t fit in your budget, then it’s best to get rid of your copper cookware.

The Cookware Handles Are in Bad Shape or Have Fallen Off

Some cookware handles aren’t completely heat-safe and may melt and fall off while you’re cooking.

Others may be hanging on, but there is a risk that they’ll break when you pick up the pan and expose you to the risk of getting burned.

If you don’t have the budget to invest in new cookware, it’s better to remove the melted or loose handle completely and use an oven mitt to handle the pots and pans.

Lifetime Cookware: A Myth Or?

Many brands claim to produce cookware that can last a lifetime.

However, if you’re still buying non-stick products or copper-coated cookware, the coating will wear out over time.

You can still prolong its life by getting the coating renewed, but eventually (around 5 years), you will need to restock on new cookware.

However, certain items can last a lifetime, such as:

Iron Skillets

Two Iron Skillets

Cast-iron skillets may have been passed down in your family over the years.

This is because they don’t have a coating on them, to begin with, non-stick or otherwise.

With these, you just have to be careful that you clean them properly to prevent bacteria from accumulating and giving you an upset stomach.

Marble Cutting Boards

Marble cutting boards are very resilient and long-lasting.

Apart from being visually attractive, they won’t wear down and develop grooves and cracks.

In fact, the only thing that can reduce the lifetime of a marble cutting board is if breaks in which case it’s pretty much unusable.


Overall, the quality greatly affects the cookware’s lifetime.

The better the quality of your cookware, the longer it will remain intact.

For instance, pots and pans made of lighter, low-grade metal are more likely to experience warping as opposed to sturdy iron or steel ones.

Even so, your cookware is not eternal, and it’s ideal to replace it at the first sign of wear to avoid health risks like metal poisoning and a messed up metabolism.

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