This Is the Safest Way to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

It's not nearly as difficult as you think it is.

Cooking with cast iron offers a lot of benefits. High heat retention, a naturally non-stick interior, and adaptability to almost any cooking surface are just a few of the reasons people opt for cast iron skillets. A study from the Liverpool School Of Tropical Medicine even found that cooking on cast iron can deliver a boost of nutritional iron that may help treat anemia.

Keeping cast iron cookware clean and in good condition is important to its longevity. While many people are intimidated by the unique care cast iron skillets require, they are actually easy to maintain. The difference between cast iron cookware and other pots and pans is the natural surface, which does not have any chemical treatment or other coating and is prone to rust. The best way to keep your cast iron clean and rust free is to scrape off surface mess, rinse clean, and dry thoroughly.

The rough surface of contemporary cast iron requires an abrasive sponge to scrape off any stuck on material. According to Lodge, one of the leading purveyors of cast iron cookware, a nylon scrubbing sponge works best. This keeps your all-purpose dish sponge from getting tarnished with food byproducts, like grease. Metal scrubbers are not recommended since they can remove the seasoning, or light coating of surface oil, from the pan, increasing the risk of rust and decreasing the non-stick effect when cooking. Once surface debris is cleaned off, the pan can be rinsed with warm water and dried thoroughly before seasoning.

Despite some reports to the contrary, you can use soap to clean your cast iron, too. Soap is generally not needed for everyday cleaning, though, and can contain acidic ingredients, which can create a brown residue while stripping the seasoning from the skillet. However, according to Lodge and tests done by Cooks Illustrated, a small amount of mild dish soap with warm water will not harm the cast iron as long as it is rinsed thoroughly.

Like any pan, cast iron needs to be cleaned and dried after each use. Heating the pan on the stove after cleaning will ensure all the water is evaporated, preventing rust during storage. Additionally, adding a small coating of oil to the hot pan is recommended for continued seasoning, which will help preserve the pan and its non-stick quality. Now that you know how to care for your cast iron skillet, check out the other 25 Kitchen Gadgets Every Man Needs.

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