Curious about the best way to clean cast iron? It’s not as difficult as you might think! Cast iron is incredibly durable, versatile and non-stick, making it a true workhorse in the kitchen. Some people are scared off by the need for a little extra care compared to traditional pots and pans. With a couple steps and cleaning techniques, caring for cast iron is simple and you’ll be able to keep your pans free of rust, well-seasoned and clean.
- Cast iron cookware – here’s my pan
- Sponge with scrubbing surface or a stiff bristled brush – I like this cast iron brush here
- dish soap (my preference is to add a little, but I know that this is controversial – do what works for you)
- coarse salt
In order to make your cleaning job much easier, it is imperative that you clean your cast iron as soon as possible, preferably while it is still warm from use. Unlike traditional cookware, cast iron will not benefit from soaking in your sink. Exposure to water for long periods of time can lead to rust issues.
How to Wash your Cast Iron
Wash your cookware by hand in hand with hot water and a scrubbing sponge or stiff bristled brush. Under no circumstances do you ever want to put cast iron in the dishwasher.
If you have stubborn food residue that needs a little extra care, sprinkle some coarse salt in the pan along with water to make a thick paste the consistency of toothpaste. The salt granules will work to loosen up those stubborn bits.
You can add a squirt of dish soap if you’d like – this is optional and controversial but I like knowing that I’ve used a little soap on our cast iron. If you need some extra care beyond the salt and soap, try boiling some water in the pan and letting it sit to soak.
Dry and Oil
Scrub, rinse and dry. When your cookware is completely rinsed and clean, dry with a towel. Apply a light coat of high heat oil, like avocado, to the inside of your cookware using paper towel. This step will help to enhance the non-stick nature that cast iron is so good at. In addition, it also helps to prevent rust. Warm it over the stove for a couple minutes or heat it up in a 425 degree oven. This will also kill germs and help to season the pan.
When All Else Fails
Despite following the above cleaning techniques, there are times when your pan may develop a little rust. In this event you can use steel wool or a halved raw potato and salt to remove the rust. Sprinkle some salt in the pan and use the cut side of the potato to gently yet effectively rid the pan of rust. It sounds like an odd cleaning combination, but the moisture from the potato combines with the gentle abrasive nature of the salt to do the trick. You may need to reseason your pan in order to restore the nonstick surface at this point.
With these cleaning and care techniques, your cast iron cookware should last for many, many years to come, providing a durable and versatile cooking alternative to traditional pots and pans.