How you keep your cast iron clean is an essential part of caring for your cookware-and ensuring its longevity. A well-seasoned cast-iron pan will get easier to clean over time because the more you use it, the more nonstick the surface becomes, allowing food to slide easily off the pan. Because the nature of the metal is porous, it will absorb what you apply; so stay away from the use of harsh chemicals when cleaning your cast iron.
Rinse the pan in warm water and remove any leftover food with a soft sponge or nylon-bristled brush. Do not use an abrasive scouring pad, cleanser or dish soap on the pan. This will begin to wear down the seasoning and reduce the efficiency of the cookware.
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Soak a hard-to-clean pan in hot water. If food has been baked on, or can't be removed with a simple swipe of the sponge, soak the pan first. Some people will put the pan on the stove, fill it with water and boil for a few minutes to remove baked on food. Be careful when pouring out the hot water.
Dry the pan thoroughly. This will prevent rust from appearing on the pan. Use a paper towel to remove all the water from inside and outside the pan.
Oil the surface with a little olive or vegetable oil before storing. This keeps the pan seasoned and ready for the next use. Pour a teaspoon or so of oil on a paper towel and swipe the surface and sides of the pan, evenly coating the interior. You don't need to use a lot of oil, just enough to give the pan a slight sheen.
Do not store with the lid tightly in place. Allow air to circulate to prevent moisture from rusting the pan.
Never clean cast iron by placing it in the oven and using the self-cleaning mode. Because of the high heat used, your pan could crack.