I have some very tight diet restrictions right now due to a medical issue. As a result I need to eat scrambled eggs three times a day. Here's my question: if I rinse the pan thoroughly each time do I really need to wash it with soap and water after every meal? Can I just wash it every night? (The problem is this hurts my neck, which is another medical issue I have.)

  • I am aware of this answer: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/16665/…, but it seems to imply the problem is that the danger grows with multiple unwashed uses and/or time passage, not so much that it need be done.
    – Paul
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 18:01
  • I'm assuming that places that cook a lot of eggs every day don't clean the skillet every time. My time between meals is about 4 hours.
    – Paul
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 18:02
  • When you rinse is there still egg in the pan?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 18:23
  • probably not, if you heat it properly when cooking the eggs, and clean/dry it after each use.
    – Max
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 13:19
  • When cooking eggs at work my time between uses might be 10-15 minutes. I would NOT reuse a pan that sat for 4 hrs.
    – Summer
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 14:34

3 Answers 3


Bacteria have several requirements to grow — water, food/nutrients, oxygen/lack of oxygen (some bacteria), temperature, and pH. The acceptable range of conditions varies, but if you deprive them of one of their requirements, they don't grow. We use all of those in food — but for your question, three are involved:

  1. Temperature. When the pan is hot, nothing can grow. Once it cools off below ≈130°F/55°C, that changes. Until you get down to 40°F/4°C, you're in the "danger zone" where bacterial growth is possible and relatively quick.
  2. Food/nutrient availability. When you wash clean the pan, you're removing the nutrients, so the bacteria can't grow. You propose not to do this, so this control method isn't available.
  3. Water. Without available water, nothing can grow. This is why you want your pans to dry out after washing (even things like aluminum or ceramic, which won't rust). If there are nutrients left (perfect washing is hard), without water, nothing can grow.

So... I think as long as you make sure the pan is dry then you're fine. Wipe it out with a paper towel, you don't want any egg-gunk left (that'd be hard to get all the water out of). If there is any doubt, turn back on the burner after wiping it — heat will drive off any moisture. Just make sure not to let it get hot enough to damage the pan. (Be especially careful if its Teflon or similar).

If paranoid (which, depending on your health condition, may be justified), once the pan cools to near room temperature, put it in the fridge. You'll then have two factors redundantly protecting you from bacterial growth.


You should wash your pan between each use

The USDA recommends that every food product, cooked or not, should not exceed 2 hours at room temperature, as bacteria can be re-introduced to the cooked food and make it dangerous once more.

According to the USDA

The "Danger Zone" (40 °F-140 °F)

Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 ° and 140 °F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often called the "Danger Zone." That's why the Meat and Poultry Hotline advises consumers to never leave food out of refrigeration over 2 hours. If the temperature is above 90 °F, food should not be left out more than 1 hour.

By cooked food I include any residual food left in the pot or pan, visible or not.

As mentioned by paparazzo in the comments, cooking with a rinsed pan is not a good practice as the rinsing will not guarantee cleansing of residual food. The residual food can produce bacteria and these can produce toxins, which will not necessarily be eliminated with the next use of that pan.

This being said, the best and safe practice is to wash your pan thouroughly with soap after each use.

  • Re-cook does not make the food safe.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 19:54
  • Recooking will kill the bacteria, no question about it, there is a difference between good and safe.
    – Louis
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 19:54
  • But you are right, that paragraph has no right to be as it is bad practice anyway. Thanks for pointing it out!
    – Louis
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 19:55
  • 2
    Kill the bacteria and kill toxins the bacteria may have created are different.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 19:57
  • That is also true, let me edit my answer to add this bit of information, thank you.
    – Louis
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 19:59

It is desirable every time after cooking to thoroughly rinse the pan with a special fat-relieving preparation.when the fat temperature reaches 100 degrees It begins to oxidize strongly and should not be used a second time.in this case fat is converted into protoplasmic poison.never cook for the second time in the same fat.about the pains in your back I would advise you the following:the container in which it is cooked is still warm - put a fat remover.when fat is hot or hot dissolves much easier and thus removing it is easy. this will greatly ease your movements and therefore the pain in the neck

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