How to Know When It's Time to Replace Your Cookware and Kitchen Tools

If you’re still using your old college blender, it might be time to spring for a new one.

If you take good care of your kitchen tools—cookware, electric appliances, gadgets, and cooking tools—you'll extend their lifespan. And by taking good care of them, we don't mean cramming just about anything that will fit into your dishwasher.

That said, even well-cared-for kitchen tools won't last generations and will need to be replaced eventually. But when exactly? That's where this helpful guide comes in.

"For a majority of kitchen tools, it all depends on your usage and upkeep," says Tracy Wilk, chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And if you simply want a cooler model with more features, that's fine, too—especially when it comes to electric appliances. Here's looking at you, past-its-prime mini food processor.

Keep reading for advice from chefs and other kitchen professionals to learn exactly when it's time to replace some of your most frequently used kitchen tools.


Nonstick Pans

These may be essential in any home kitchen (especially if you love to cook eggs), but nonstick pans have a short life span, notes Qi Ai, chef de cuisine at Travelle at The Langham, Chicago.

"When your Teflon nonstick pans start to show a lot of scratches, or when your food starts to stick more than usual, it's time for a change," Ai says. "Beyond just the annoying factor of having to spend extra time scrubbing, scratched pans can start to leach harmful chemicals," she adds. So if you notice any scratching or peeling, it's time to get a new nonstick pan ASAP.

Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

"This is one of the most durable cookware options out there," says Jeff Malkasian, president of Clipper Corporation, which makes Viking Culinary products. "I know people who still cook on stainless steel cookware they bought over 50 years ago."

Any water spots or discoloration due to heat on your stainless steel pans shouldn't impact their ability to cook food since those marks are usually only on the surface. But if a handle on your cookware vessel comes loose, that's a different story. "If you can't tighten it, look for a new one that has handles riveted or welded to the vessel," Malkasian advises.

Electric Appliances


"Most of the time, when it comes to small electric appliances, you get what you pay for," says Alex Tubero, executive chef at Amali in New York City. The higher the quality, the longer it lasts.

But how do you know when to take the plunge and purchase a new blender? If you buy an inexpensive blender and try to mix things that are too thick to handle, the motor can burn out quickly. If your blender is leaking from the bottom, struggling to blend, or emitting a burning smell, it's time to get a new one. "A high-quality blender, such as a Vitamix, should last a lifetime," Tubero adds.

Electric Kettles

"The upkeep on these is fairly simple, but eventually they will just stop working," says Wilk. You may notice your electric kettle is starting to go when it begins to take longer to heat up, or not heat up at all. But generally speaking, as long as you take good care of your kettle and remember to clean it well, it should last for several years.


The main culprit that can shorten the lifespan of your toaster? Crumbs. "They aren't the easiest to clean," notes Wilk. And some of them can still get stuck inside and impact your toaster's ability to work properly.

So when is it your toaster's time to go? If your appliance is toasting unevenly, taking a lot longer than usual, or showing signs of rust, it's time to upgrade. Many newer toasters have a lot of fun and useful new features—such as this model with an LED screen and a memory function to save your toast settings—so investing in a new toaster can upgrade your cooking routine in more ways than one.

Food Processors

"If you're careful with washing and always ensure the pieces are dry before putting them away, you can keep your food processor for many years," says Wilk. To keep the blade on your food processor as sharp as possible, Wilk recommends washing it by hand. However, if your blade seems dull and isn't chopping or grinding as efficiently as it had been, it's likely time to invest in a new appliance.

Coffee Makers

This appliance doesn't typically need to be upgraded that often. But there are so many new coffee makers out there with all the bells and whistles, it's tempting to want to swap yours out on a regular basis. You should also consider getting a new coffee maker if you notice changes in how your java tastes. "You may want to get a new one if you notice your coffee isn't as flavorful as you want it to be," Wilk says.

If your coffee isn't as bold as it once was, try descaling solutions to clean your coffee machine first, and see if that gets your cup of Joe back up to par. If not, consider purchasing one of these machines for your kitchen.



"This is an indispensable tool for grating things like garlic, ginger, and aged cheese, but one downside to a Microplane is that it can't be sharpened," says Kristen Hall, executive pastry chef and co-owner of The Essential and Bandit Pâtisserie in Birmingham, Alabama. "Replace yours when it starts to become dull. It should always be razor sharp," she adds. If you find that your ingredients take more pressure to grate or are slipping on the surface of your Microplane, it's time for a new one.

Wooden Cooking Tools

Who doesn't love a great wooden spoon? "These are perfect for stirring long-simmered sauces and soups, and they give us all the warm and cozy feelings of nostalgia," says Hall. However, you should replace any wooden tool—including wooden rolling pins—as soon as it begins to crack or warm. "Those cracks and crevices can hold onto food and bacteria," Hall points out.

Rubber Spatulas

The same advice for wooden tools holds true here. "When you start to notice your rubber spatulas breaking or cracking, let them go," advises Kelsey Barnard Clark, chef and owner at Eat KBC in Dothan, Alabama. "You don't even want to know the germs hiding in those crevices."


A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one because dull knives can lead to potential slips and cuts. "Knives can usually be sharpened rather than replaced," says Pietro Aletto, executive chef at Loreto Italian Kitchen & Bar in Brooklyn, New York. "But if the handle on yours has worn out, or if sharpening techniques are no longer working, it's time to replace your knife. He recommends investing in a top-quality knife (instead of an inexpensive one), which can easily last over a decade if it's kept in good condition.

Vegetable Peelers

"These handy, inexpensive gadgets are similar to razors," says Clark. "After so many uses, they just get dull and need to be trashed." If you're looking for a vegetable peeler that boasts long-lasting sharpness, Clark recommends the Kuhn Rikon peeler.

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