Cast iron is a great material to use in your kitchen while cooking or while camping outdoors. We love cast iron for it’s even heat, non-stick qualities, durability, and versatility when it comes to cooking — you can use it on the stove, in the oven, or even over an open fire while camping. It can be a bit needy so here’s what you need to know when it comes to cleaning it.
First you’re going to want a good quality cast iron pan. We really enjoy using Lodge Cast Iron. They are reasonably priced and we’ve had great luck cooking with them. If cost isn’t the most important factor and you’re willing to splurge a bit more and buy a nice cast iron skillet, Le Creuset’s Cast Iron Skillet and Le Cresuset’s Cast Iron Dutch Oven would be our top pick.
To clean your cast iron skillet, dutch oven, or griddle, you are going to want a sponge, a stainless steel cast iron cleaning scrubber, or a cast iron brush / scraper. We have had a great experience using the BlissTime Cast Iron Cleaner Chainmail Scrubber; it makes cleaning your cast iron quick and works efficiently. You’re also going to want some clean paper towels, vegetable oil, and you may also use Kosher salt if you’d like.
Cast iron should be cleaned while the pan or skillet is still warm / hot. This material easily rusts so when you toss the pan in the sink to soak after preparing something like fried rice or eggs and bacon, your pan may begin to develop rust as it sits in the water. Immediately after cooking, make sure to take these quick steps to protect your cast iron — it will save you in the long run!
To wash, you want to use warm or hot water and your sponge / brush. No soap necessary! Actually, using steel wool, soap, or putting your pan in the dishwasher may ruin your pan’s seasoning and you’ll be back to square one. The only time you want to use steel wool on your cast iron is to remove rust — just make sure you re-season after using this abrasive material on the cast iron.
If you have food that is extra stuck to your pan and your BlissTime Cast Iron Cleaner Chainmail Scrubber can’t seem to free it, pour some coarse salt or kosher salt into the pan with the water. We personally prefer coarse salt, it is more abrasive. Once the salt is on your cast iron, scrub and wipe away with paper towels. Boiling water may also do the trick for you if you’re still struggling with food that won’t budge.
Once clean, completely dry with a towel. Once dry, you need to oil the cast iron using a rag or paper towels. You use a little bit of vegetable oil or shortening to do this. We find that spraying a bit of PAM or cooking oil spray onto the pan is a great way to oil the pan evenly so you don’t have to rub much oil around and you aren’t left with too much excess. We personally oil the entire pan, inside and out, before rubbing away the excess oil. Now that you’ve finished cleaning your cast iron, take care of it!