To prevent rust and extend the life of a cast iron skillet, it’s best not to use soap to clean it. Instead, use a about a tablespoon of coarse salt to scrub the pan after a meal.
The salt breaks up bits of stuck food and residue on the skillet. Then you can toss the dirty salt in the trash, rinse the pan with hot water and dry it with a clean towel. To further protect a cast iron skillet, rub a few drops of vegetable oil over the entire cooking surface.
Cleaning With Coarse Salts
- Use about a tablespoon of coarse salt, like kosher salt, in lukewarm water and scour with a kitchen towel.
- You can fold the kitchen towel and grip it with tongs if you don’t want the grime on your hands.
- Remove the salt and rinse the skillet with hot water.
- Dry with a kitchen towel or use medium heat to dry it.
How to Maintain a Cast Iron Skillet
- Rinse with warm water and scrap with a brush or scraper to get rid of stuck-on food.
- For really tough to remove food, try using oil and salt.
- Use a cast iron skillet to cook eggs, tomatoes, fish and steak.
- Use rubber scrapers and spatulas or wooden utensils to cook in a cast iron skillet.
- Don’t store food in cast iron skillets.
- Don’t let cast iron skillets soak.
Learn how to season your cast iron skillet to keep it in good shape.
How to Store Cast Iron
Stash in a dry cabinet: A typical kitchen cabinet is the optimal storage space for cast iron. But make sure it’s dry! Excess moisture turns to rust in a hurry on highly reactive cast iron. Make drying your skillets thoroughly after rinsing them part of your cast-iron cleaning routine.
Keep on the stovetop: You may keep your cast iron out on the countertop or stovetop, as long as it’s moisture-free—far removed from the kitchen sink area.
Stow in the oven: Ovens make a great storage space for cast iron—but only if your pans are free of wooden parts. Remember, though, to carefully remove the skillet before heating up the oven.
Hang ’em up: You can hang your cast-iron skillets and pans on the wall—just be sure your hooks are securely mounted to studs. These bad boys are heavy! Hanging makes them both decorative and functional, so you can show off your awesome collection. Bonus: The free air flow will help prevent rust, and your cookware will be readily available.
Place paper towels between pans: No matter where you keep them, prevent scratching and rusting by stacking your cast iron pieces—including lids—between paper towel sheets.
Always, always, always focus on dryness—and your pans will last a lot longer than they would if you stack them in a humid area, freshly rinsed and wet.