Cast iron cookware is a dependable kitchen tool. It is non-stick, conducts and retains heat evenly, and lasts a lifetime. But to fully maximize its cooking potentials, a cast iron cookware should be properly cleaned. One thing you have to keep in mind is that it doesn’t like being washed with soap. Soap strips away oil that is necessary for keeping cast iron pots and pans non-stick. So for your reference, we have detailed below how to properly clean cast iron cookware without soap.
- Sprinkle salt. Using salt is one of the most common cast iron cleaning practices in many homes. It is done by filling the cookware with water immediately after cooking. Leave it for a while. After a few minutes, liberally sprinkle salt over the cookware. Then, scrub it with a rag, paper towel, or nonmetal brush. Salt will dissolve any burned-on food and rust without damaging the non-stick surface of the cast iron cookware. After scrubbing, rinse the cookware with warm water and let it air dry.
- Scrub with steel wool. Steel wool, like salt, is an abrasive cleaning material that takes away burned-on food and other forms of dirt without stripping away oil. Again, use hot water. Pour it over the cookware, and after a few minutes, scrub it with steel wool.
- Use vinegar. Vinegar works effectively in removing rust from cast iron cookware. Prepare vinegar and water in 50/50 amount. Then, soak your cookware in the solution for not longer than 12 hours. If left soaked in for too long, the acidic content of the vinegar will eat up the metal. Check the cookware from time to time. If the cookware is already clean, rinse it with an alkaline solution, washing soda for example, to neutralize the acidity and stop the vinegar’s cleaning effect. Afterwards, wash the cookware with hot water.
- Prepare lye solution. Lye is another effective cleaning solution. Mix one can of lye with about two gallons of water. Then, soak your cast iron cookware in the lye solution and leave it for around five days. Scrub the cookware after with a brass brush. It is easy to remove the crud and gunk by this time because the lye solution has already broken them down. After this, rinse the cookware with hot water. For your safety, always use goggles and gloves when working with lye. It contains ingredients that can hurt your skin.
- Try using oven cleaner. Oven cleaner is also widely used for washing cast iron cookware. If you want to use this, simply apply oven cleaner to the cookware. Then, seal it in a plastic bag or zip-lock and leave it overnight. The next morning, scrub the cookware with a brass brush, removing the buildup of grease and burned-on food. Rinse with hot water after.
It is important to season your cast iron cookware after cleaning. The goal is to re-introduce oil and preserve the non-stick nature of the cookware. Start by placing the cookware in the oven. Turn the oven to 125°. Then after around 15 minutes, take the cookware out and apply bacon grease or lard. When you place it back in, set the oven on 225°. Wait for around 30 minutes before getting the cookware out again. When it has already cooled down, wipe it down with a rag or paper tissue to remove excess grease. Finally, store the cookware.