9 Tips for Caring for Cast Iron Pans

Proper care of your cast iron pans can provide years, even generations, of use. Domestic CEO shows you how to take of these long-lasting kitchen staples.

Amanda Thomas
5-minute read
Episode #158

Tip 4: Avoid Soap

The seasoned surface of a cast iron pan is essentially a layer of oil, and if there’s one thing that oil doesn’t like, it’s soap. One of the main functions of dish soap is to break down food oils, so protect your seasoning and avoid dish soap as much as you can. The more seasoned your pan is, the more durable it is, but it’s a good idea to only use small amounts of soap to clean your pans - and to never let the soap sit in the pan.

Tip 5: Avoid Soaking Water

Remember high school chemistry class where you learned that water + iron = rust? This applies to cast iron as well. If you allow water to remain on the surface of your cast iron pans, you risk them rusting.

To avoid this, never put cast iron pans to soak in the sink, or pans of water to sit on the stove. It’s better to just let the dirty pan sit until you have the time to fully clean it, rather than letting water touch the surface for any amount of time. Just don’t let it sit too long, because like I already said, that can be pretty gross!

Tip 6: Hot Pans Need Hot Water

If you need to immediately rinse your pan after cooking, make sure to use hot water. There are few things that can cause permanent damage to cast iron, but immersing a hot cast iron pan in cold water can cause it to warp, or even crack. Remember to use hot water with hot pans, or allow the pan to cool substantially before using cooler water to clean it.

Tip 7: Never Use the Dishwasher

Now that you’ve learned that both soap and extended exposure to water are bad for cast iron pans, you’ve probably figured out that sticking them in the dishwasher is a doubly bad idea. These pans need to be hand washed every single time. Besides, those little wire prongs that help organize the dishes in your dishwasher are no match for a big, heavy thing like a cast iron pan. Prevent them from becoming bent and rusty by hand washing your larger, heavier pans.

Tip 8: Season Cast Iron Pans on a Regular Basis

Once you have a clean, dry pan, take a look at the surface. If it’s starting to look dull or rougher than normal, it is likely time to season the pan again. This has to be done on a regular basis, but not necessarily after every cleaning. As you get more used to using your pans, you’ll start to be able to tell when they need another seasoning session.

Tip 9: Storing Cast Iron Pans

Once your cast iron pans are clean, dry, and seasoned, it’s time to store them. If you have multiple pans, place a paper towel in the bottom of each pan, then nest the pans inside each other. Keep them in a place where you can safely move the heavy pans when you need to use them again, and also where they don’t risk being exposed to moisture.

Proper care of your cast iron pans can provide you years, and even generations of use. Whether you have a new set of cast iron pans, or you have one that someone passed down to you, following these easy steps to keep them clean and dry will keep your pans useful for years to come.

Until next time, I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home! Share your questions and tips with me on Facebook and Twitter.