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- While it's not ideal for daily use due to its weight, cast iron pots and pans are great for cooking a variety of dishes.
- It's easy to clean and re-season the cookware, and with proper care, cast iron should last for generations.
- We break down how to clean cast iron cookware in a few simple steps.
- Read more: The best cast iron cookware
Cast iron cookware is praised for its durability and long heat retention, but no one likes to maintain or clean it.
Bare cast iron cookware usually is pre-seasoned, but you have to re-season it from time to time to keep the non-stick cooking surface. Some cast iron cookware is covered with a coating of vitreous enamel glaze so that you don't have to re-season it. Le Creuset is famous for its colorful high-quality enameled cast iron cookware, while Lodge is best known for its pre-seasoned bare cast iron cookware.
No matter which one you have or plan to buy, we've broken down how to clean cast iron cookware. You can also watch the video above to see how it's done. The golden rule is that it should be cleaned after every use and never placed in a dishwasher or left to soak in a sink of water.
How to clean cast iron cookware
- While the cookware is still warm, use paper towels to remove any excess food and oil.
- Use a soft-bristled nylon brush or non-abrasive scrub pad (no steel wool) to remove any traces of stuck-on food. The Scotch-Brite Dishwashing Wand is non-abrasive and keeps my hands out of dirty dishwater.
- If the cast iron feels excessively sticky, two or three drops of Dawn Dishwashing Liquid or another gentle dish soap can be used during the scrubbing.
- Rinse thoroughly under hot running water.
- Immediately dry thoroughly with a soft cloth or paper towel. Do not allow the cast iron to air-dry.
- Place the cast iron cookware over the stove on medium-low or in a warm oven at 250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of any type of vegetable oil (corn oil, olive oil, coconut oil) to the cast iron and use paper towels to distribute it evenly over the entire interior surface. I have used all of them successfully.
- Continue to rub the oil into the interior surface until it is absorbed and the surface looks shiny and dark.
- Turn off the stove or take the cast iron out of the oven and allow it to cool completely before storing.
How to clean enamel cast iron cookware
Enamel-coated cast iron does not rust and does not need to be re-seasoned. However, it must be cleaned correctly to prevent damaging the surface. While it can be placed in an automatic dishwasher, repeated cleaning in this manner will cause the enamel surfaces to lose color and appear dull.
How to clean enameled cast iron cookware
- Allow the cookware to cool before cleaning. Never rinse or soak heated enamel-coated cast iron in cold water as the surface can crack.
- Wash with regular dishwashing soap and hot water. Use a plastic scrubber —never steel wool — to remove stuck-on food.
- For burned-on food, fill the pan with hot water and 1/2 cup baking soda, and place it on your stove on on medium until the water is boiling. Turn off the heat and allow the water and baking soda solution to cool before washing as usual.
- Always dry completely before storing the cookware.
How to restore damaged cast iron cookware
Cast iron can rust if exposed to water and humidity for too long. If the rust is only on the surface and not severe enough to have damaged the integrity of the cookware, you can usually clean and restore the cookware, but if the damage has gone too deep, you're due for new cast iron cookware.
How to restore damaged cast iron cookware
- Use a non-abrasive plastic scraper to remove as much loose rust as possible. You'll find the Pampered Chef scrapers handy for cleaning and scraping batter from a bowl into baking pans.
- Make a paste of lemon juice and baking soda by mixing one tablespoon of lemon juice with one cup of baking soda.
- Apply the paste to the rusty areas and cover with plastic wrap.
- Allow the paste to work for at least 24 hours and then scrub the piece with a stiff-bristled brush to remove the rust.
- Rinse well with hot water and follow the steps to re-season the cast iron with vegetable oil.
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