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How to Clean and Care for Cast Iron Cookware
There is a myth looming over the term “cook iron cookware” that I want to bust today.
People are hesitant to buy cast iron because they’ve heard it is hard to care for and clean.
I was hesitant because of this myth, too!
Truth is, though, cast iron is not difficult to clean – and I’d argue that cast iron is easier to care for than other types of cookware (just one of the many benefits of cast iron cookware!)
Cleaning Cast Iron Cookware
The most important tip I have is not to wait to clean cast iron. You don’t need to clean it immediately after dinner, but sometime before bedtime rolls around is ideal. This is because you don’t want to food to cake on and stick to the pan – that will make the process a little more difficult (though, this is true for all cookware.)
Here is my basic cast iron cleaning routine:
First, I run some hot water into the cast iron pan and scrap away with a heavy duty plastic scraper to get the big bits of food off. I LOVE this scraper. (Note – don’t use soap, you’ll scrub away all of the seasoning! But if you do use some, it’s not the end of the world, and you can re-season…more on that below!)
If there is still some stuck on food, just wipe most of the water out with a washcloth, and dump some coarse salt right into the pan. Take a wash cloth and scrub the salt around, especially over the problem areas. When I first bought cast iron, I didn’t know the salt trick. Once I learned it, it was life changing. It’s so good at getting all the cooked on, or even burnt, food residue out of the pan.
Sometimes, all I need to do is scrub the pan with a washcloth and it’s good to go. Just depends on what was for dinner.
Then, you’ll rinse the pan out and dry it with a towel. Drying it off is very important, or else it will rust. Definitely don’t let water sit in your cast iron pan. Make sure you place it on a surface that is dry, as well. I keep my two cast iron pans right on my stove.
Last, but not least, season that baby back up again. I like seasoning my cast iron pan with coconut oil, but have also used olive oil and grapeseed oil. Just rub the oil all over the pan, preferably while it’s still warm from washing. (Or, you can turn your burner on low for a few minutes to heat the pan back up.)
Everyone seems to have their own method for cleaning cast iron, but this is what is easiest and most effective for me.
Getting Rust off of Your Cast Iron Pan
Sometimes, things happen, and your cast iron pan will rust. Maybe you forgot to dry it off. Or the baby pooped on the rug in the middle of cleaning it, so you took care of that mess, and then completely forgot about finishing cleaning your cast iron until the morning.
…Not that that has happened to me, of course.
Anyway – don’t fret! A rusty cast iron pan is easily fixable. Cast iron is so durable!
Sometimes, if it’s a little bit of light rust, you can take an abrasive sponge and scrub that stuff right off with some soap and water. (Soap is encouraged to be used in cases of rust.)
Or, you can use the salt trick as described above.
However, if it’s a little more of a problem, soak your pan in water and soap for ten minutes, and go to town on the troublesome rust with some steel wool or chain mail – I love this chain mail scrubber specifically made for cast iron.
How to Re-Season Your Cast Iron Cookware
Alright, you totally scrubbed out the seasoning because you used soap or had a rust problem.
Don’t worry – your cast iron isn’t ruined, not even close.
All you need to do is re-season it! Rub some oil all over the pan, hitting the inside and the outside.
In a 250 degree oven, let your cast iron sit in there for an hour or so. When you pull it out, it’ll be totally seasoned again and ready to go.
Caring for cast iron is a little different than caring for other types of cookware. Don’t be afraid though, because it’s pretty much impossible to ruin it beyond repair! I had some doubts before I made the switch, but I couldn’t be happier with my cast iron cookware.
If you still have some doubts about cast iron, check out my post: 12 Reasons to Switch to Cast Iron Cookware!