How to Clean a Cast Iron Cookware

Learning how to properly clean your cast-iron cookware can prolong its life, prevent rusting, and maintain its important seasoning. Follow our steps regarding how to clean a cast iron cookware so you can use this kitchen staple with confidence.

What to Know Before You Clean

These durable cookware will protect your food from burning as long as you take care of them. Most cast iron cookware comes pre-seasoned, so it is important to maintain that seasoning throughout every cleaning cycle. The seasoning on a cast iron cookware is a polymer that has formed between oil and the cookware’s surface. This seasoning creates a nonstick surface and adds delicious flavor to every dish. Preserving that layer, however, can get a little tricky. Improper methods of cleaning can actually strip the seasoning away, and the project of re-seasoning a cast iron cookware can be time consuming.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Cookware

Step 1: Begin cleaning your cast iron cookware immediately after cooking, so use pot holders or tongs if the cookware is hot to the touch. Do not use dish soap, let it soak in the sink, or put it in the dishwasher. Instead, pour one cup of coarse sea salt directly into the pan, then use a wooden spatula or spoon to scrub away any leftover food residue. The abrasiveness of the salt will scrape off any hardened bits of food without damaging the cookware’s layer of seasoning.

Step 2: Use a clean towel to scrub away the remaining salt and food. If there are still some stubborn food spots, boil a small amount of water in the cookware to loosen the particles and repeat Step 1.

Step 3: Once your cookware is completely clean, use a clean cloth to dry it thoroughly. If the cookware still feels wet, place it on a heated stovetop to evaporate any extra moisture. This will protect your cast iron cookware from rusting.

Step 4: Once the cookware is completely dry, wipe the interior of the cookware with a cloth dipped in ½ teaspoon of vegetable oil or melted shortening. Store your cast iron cookware in a dry area, like a cabinet or stovetop.