How to Properly Clean Cast Iron
June 8, 2020 | By Lauren Lethbridge
Cast-iron cookware is a must-have in the kitchen. It’s inexpensive, long-lasting, and versatile. If you recognize the value of cast-iron cookware, you’re probably using it a lot. And when you use something a lot, it can get pretty dirty.
Cast iron is relatively easy to clean, but there are some simple guidelines to follow that will help your cast iron last longer and remain valuable. The first thing to remember is that the more you use your cast iron, the more you need to care for it.
Cleaning Your Cast-Iron Pan
You should clean your cast-iron pan every time you use it. Before cleaning, make sure to wipe off any remaining food or oil with a paper towel. After rinsing, use a nonmetal brush or nonabrasive scrub pad to remove any trace of food. Do not clean your pan using the dishwasher, steel wool, or soap — though you can get away with sometimes using a small amount of soap.
Having trouble removing food from your cast-iron pan?
- Boil water in it.
- Scrub your cast-iron pan using a combination of coarse kosher salt and water.
Don’t let your cast iron drip-dry, this is one of the best ways to allow your cast iron to rust. Make sure to towel-dry immediately after rinsing. After no moisture remains, add a little oil and use a paper towel to spread the oil over the surface of your pan. Wipe until there is no oil left and the surface looks smooth. Oiling your cast-iron cookware after every use will help prevent rust.
Disinfecting Your Cast Iron
Often, cleaning is not enough to ensure your cast iron is properly cared for and that the food you plan to cook will be safe to eat. It’s important to disinfect. Heat is a great tool to use to kill lingering bacteria. Put your cast iron on the stove and let it heat up. The hotter it gets, the more likely the bacteria will be killed. After heating your cast iron, oil it lightly.
For smaller cast-iron pans and skillets, PhoneSoap’s HomeSoap unit can be used to sanitize 99.99% of all germs. HomeSoap’s inner dimensions are 3.66 inches wide, 11.15 inches tall, and 14.99 inches long. The standard cast-iron skillet size is 10 inches and could fit in a HomeSoap unit if turned on its side. Using HomeSoap, your smaller cast-iron pans can be sanitized in 10 minutes!
Getting Rid of Rust
Cast iron, like most common grades of iron and steel, is prone to developing rust. When you purchase your cast iron, it comes seasoned. This means there is a protective layer that guards against moisture and oxygen, which the iron to rust.
If your cast iron has rust or has become rough or dull, don’t worry and don’t throw it out. You can still save it! Follow these steps below:
- Remove all rust using steel wool.
- Wash your cast iron with warm water, some dish soap (only a little bit), and a scouring pad or your steel wool.
- Immediately dry your cast-iron using paper towels.
- Coat your cast iron in oil (this can be any type of cooking oil). Do not use too much oil or else your iron will become sticky. Thoroughly wipe off excess oil until your cast iron looks dry.
- Place your cast iron into the oven upside down and heat for one hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid oil drips, place aluminum foil on the rack below.
- Let your cast iron cool completely.
The process of removing rust will also remove the seasoning. Steps 4–5 re-season your cast iron. After completing these steps, the surface should have a dark, glossy finish and not feel sticky, greasy, dry, or dull.
Cleaning a Cast-Iron Griddle
A griddle is not quite as easy to clean as a skillet but the steps to follow are the same.
- Scrub your griddle immediately after use while it is still hot. Use steel wool and warm water to scrub away excess food.
- Dry completely using paper towels.
- Once the surface is cool, lightly coat with oil and remove excess with a paper towel.
Cleaning Cast Iron Using Salt
Dish detergent is one of the best ways to strip your cast iron of its seasoning. But sometimes, just warm water doesn’t quite do the job. If you need a good, solid scrub, combine kosher salt and water to make a paste. Use the paste to scrub the surface of your cast iron.
This will help remove stubborn bits of food and provide a deeper clean. You can mix the salt and water together before you scrub or you can put both directly onto the surface of your cookware.
How to Clean Cast-Iron Grates
Your oven grates probably are not high up on your cleaning to-do list, but eventually, we all need to give our grates a little TLC.
- Wash your grates with warm water.
- Combine water and baking soda to create a paste. You can also use vinegar instead of water for a deeper clean.
- Coat your grates and let them sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Scrub off built-up grime. If the grime is difficult to remove, repeat the process.
Avoid using a degreaser of any sort as it will remove the seasoning on your cast iron.
Why Should You Clean Your Cast Iron?
Cast-iron cookware can last you a long time, but only if you take proper care of it. Your cast iron can be extremely versatile in the kitchen and be used for all types of meals. If you want to get the most out of your cast iron and also stay safe while using it, you should clean and sanitize it after every use. It will save you time, money, and help your meals be safer.
So next time you pull out your cast iron to try that meal you found on Pinterest, make sure to clean it following guidelines above so that you can keep cooking delicious and safe meals.
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