– Are you supposed to wash cast iron pans or not?

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I have tried to figure this out on my own but throughout all the reading I have done, it seems like I keep finding conflicting answers or the instructions they give are unclear… Am I supposed to just wipe out the pan after cooking with a paper towel, am I supposed to use water, or am I supposed to lightly wipe it out with soap & water and rinse? Thank you in advance!

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11 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

It depends on what food remains is in the pan. There is no need to wash the pan for food safety reasons as the pan gets extremely hot when cooking so no germs or even toxins will survive. But you need to clean out most of the food after cooking as this will burn and char the next food you make on it. For this purpose you can scrape it, wipe it with paper or towel. It just depends on what kind of food and how much is left. You can even rinse it in water although you need to dry it afterwards to prevent rusting, you can dry with either a towel or just evaporate the water droplets.

You need to be careful with soap though. The pan have lots of oil in it which is what makes it non-stick. Every time you cook you refill some of the oil. But if you use soap then it will dissolve this oil. The first issue is that the pan might start rusting as there is no protective coating of oil. The other issue is that food are much more likely to stick to the pan the next time you use it because all the oil is gone, even if you add more oil before you cook it have not gotten into the pores of the iron. You may sometimes have to use soap to clean the pan. Sometimes even things like boiling water is not dissolving remaining food in the pan. But you should be aware that soap does temporarily damage the pan. So you need to go through a seasoning process afterwards by heating oil in the pan so it will get into the pores of the iron.

Anonymous 0 Comments

You can wash it with water and even soap(as long as the normal mild stuff and not lye based), but you have to make sure the pan is completely dry afterwards, which can be done by letting it rest on the hot stove for a couple minutes.

While you are letting it dry you could add a tiny layer of oil to burn off, but it’s not necessarily all the time, and you can just let the seasoning slowly fall off and then do a proper reseasoning.

Anonymous 0 Comments

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Anonymous 0 Comments

[Simple rules for cast iron care.](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bZVk0LpilM) Minute Food has done a number of videos on cast iron. There are a lot of old misconceptions that certainly held me back from using it. Now that I’m using one regularly, there isn’t a lot of extra work!

Key points:

1) Wash it by hand as needed, including scouring, with a little soap.

2) dry it with heat (oven or burner) to prevent rust

3) give it a very light coat of cooking oil once it is dry.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Cast iron pans can rust really easily. Depending on your local humidity, towel drying might be necessary. It’s also possible to use too rough of a scrubber/brush, but that’s a problem for all cookware.

Otherwise, a proper ‘seasoning’ is oils cooked hot enough and long enough that they are no longer strictly ‘oil’. This means that (most modern) soap will no longer work on it (or at least as well), so you can (and often should) use soapy water to wash food remnants out.

The other side of things: with certain cooking techniques, there won’t be much food stuff left in the pan anyway. If just wiping down with water and a towel clears all the carb based mess, all that’s left would be oil in the pan. And oil by itself isn’t terribly bad for you when left out; the biggest danger is to taste, plus less certain long term issues.

So there’s an effective argument that you don’t *need* to use soap, but you’ll have better food for longer if you do.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Yes, wash it with dish soap. Scrub it hard if you need to. You don’t want burned food building up on it, just a thin layer of polymerised oil.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I’ve used cast iron pans for years and they are still like brand new.

I don’t know why people over-complicate things.

Cleaning: Water. Maybe a dash of mild soap, if you rinse it well after. The soap won’t damage the pan but the flavour can kind of stick around so you don’t want your next meal to taste soapy.

Drying: quick towel dry then just leave it upside down in the dish rack until fully dried, then put it away.

Don’t worry about scratching it too much either. They are very resilient. Unless you attack it with a knife, you’re unlikely to damage it. They survive way more assaults than “regular” pans.

These pans are easy to use. The only reason they have generally fallen out of fashion is because they are bloody heavy and people don’t like that.

And hey, whatever advice you end up following, remember that it’s just a pan. If you did somehow damage one (quite difficult to do, actually) you can learn from the experience and buy a new one as they aren’t that expensive.

Anonymous 0 Comments

When done cooking, scrape the food bits off if any, add more oil if needed, and put it back on the heat. Adjust the temp so that it is just below smoking. Leave it long enough for the oil to carbonize. After you do that enough times, you won’t even need more oil.

Anonymous 0 Comments

These answers are all missing the main point, which is [you need to season your pan](https://www.seriouseats.com/how-to-season-cast-iron-pans-skillets-cookware)

Why is this main point? All of the myth surrounding cast iron comes from people not understanding how they are intended to be used. Seasoning is the act of using oil heated really high that forces the oil to bind into a layer over the pan. This makes it quasi non-stick and prevents it from rusting.

Soap used to contain lye and would eat that layer away which is where “don’t use soap came from.” Your Dawn or Joy or noname dish detergent does not have lie and is safe to use. This we have the old advice sticking around but the reason for it is gone.

When you clean, you want to avoid removing that layer. Nothing bad happens if you do, it just means you need to season it again. Try to avoid scrubbing with heavy metal tools, use sponges and such.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Join /r/castiron and read their guides, ask questions. Yes you can and should wash and throughly dry cast iron every time you cook.