Cast iron cookware is popular, but you might realize that cast iron skillets and pans will wear out quickly if they aren’t cared for correctly. Proper cast iron care starts with properly seasoning the cast iron skillet, and it is just as important to make sure the skillet is properly cleaned after every use. Overlooking the cleaning process may cause your cast iron pan to wear out quickly. This will decrease its longevity, causing you to have to replace it prematurely. Avoid this by following these key steps to clean a cast iron pan after each and every use.

Wash the Cast Iron Skillet Using Water First

The first step is to wash the cast iron skillet by hand. Never put a cast iron pan in the dishwasher because this may ruin it. To wash a cast iron pan, use a pan scraper first to remove any bits of food that may be stuck to it. If they won’t come off with the scraper, add a little water to the pan and simmer it over your stove in order to loosen the scraps. Don’t worry if the pan isn’t 100% clean after this step—cleaning cast iron is a lot different from cleaning a normal frying pan, and it will all come off in the next steps.

Drying the Cast Iron Pan With a Cloth or Towel

After using water to wash the cast iron pan, the next step is to dry it with a cloth or paper towel. Ideally, this should be a lint-free cloth or towel to avoid getting little pieces of lint stuck in the pan. When you’re wiping down your pan, there will be black residue left on your paper towel, but this is completely normal and expected. The black residue is some of the old seasoning come off of the pan, and it needs to be removed to put new layers down.

Oiling and Baking

Once the pan has been tried, take some cooking oil and rub it onto the surface of the cast iron pan, coating both the front and back. It should show up as a very light layer and give the pan a beautiful shine. If the pan is reflective after this step, it has been done correctly.

Next, take your cast iron pan and bake it. Put it upside down on the top rack of your oven and place a baking sheet or sheet of tin foil below it to catch any oil that drips from it. Let the pan sit in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour. When the hour is up, turn the oven off and let the pan cool down inside it naturally. You’ll need to repeat the oiling and baking process two or three more times before the seasoning process is complete.

A Consistent Process is Necessary

There are a lot of types of cast iron cookware on the market. Ranging from Dutch ovens to cast iron woks and cast iron melting pots, it is important for everyone to take care of their cast iron cookware properly. The better care you take of your cast iron equipment, the longer it is going to last. Regardless of the type of cookware you are using, the process is going to stay the same every time: wash the plan, dry it, coat it with oil, and bake it.

Keeping this in mind, you can take care of your cast iron cookware properly every time you feel inspired to whip out your cast iron cookbook.

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