After you're done cooking with your cast iron pan, it needs to be hand-washed without soap. Here's what to do:

  • Use a stiff brush or scrubbing pad under warm to hot running water, and vigorously rub off crusted-on food. Don't use soap. Nearly any crusted-on food will come off a seasoned cast iron pan with just a few minutes of scrubbing under running water.
  • Give the pan a quick towel dry, using either a cloth dishtowel or paper towel.
  • Turn your stovetop burner on to low or medium heat. Place the pan on the burner and let it stay there until the pan is bone-dry. This should only take a few minutes with a gas stovetop; an electric range may take ten to fifteen minutes to heat up and dry your pan.
  • After the pan is completely dry, turn off the stovetop and let it cool off for about ten minutes.
  • While the pan is still warm, give it a light coating of oil. Coating it with oil while it is still warm will help the oil be absorbed by the pores in the metal.
  • Let the pan cool off completely, and put away until next time.

The idea of washing a pan without using soap makes some people nervous. This is one reason why it's best to cook with your cast iron pan at a very high heat. The high temperature will kill harmful bacteria and give your food a clean sear.

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