Why not to wash a cast iron skillet?

  • By: Emma
  • Date: August 8, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Table of Contents

Why not to wash a cast iron skillet?

Many people wonder ”Can I wash a cast iron skillet?”. No! Never do this. It’s a huge no-no!

Unfortunately, there is a lot of conflicting information out there on what to do with your cast iron skillet. One thing is that you should never wash it in soap and water since it is extremely bad for the skillet’s durability.

There are many reasons why you should not wash a cast iron skillet. The short answer is that most cast iron skillets aren’t dishwasher safe. Furthermore, there is a risk of rusting. Also, there is a risk that the seasoning layer may get removed.

This blog post has everything you need to know about cleaning and washing a cast-iron skillet.

Reasons why do you not wash a skillet

Skillets aren’t dishwasher safe

Cast iron skillets aren’t dishwasher safe. They can rust so easily even if they are stored in a dry place.

So, you have to do this by hand. But not with soap! Why?

Why not use soap for washing cast iron skillet?

The problem with using dishwashing liquid on cast iron cookware is that the seasoning layer may be stripped off completely due to the high alkaline content in the dishwashing liquid. The seasoning layer will absorb oil and provide a non-stick surface over time, making it non-stick which means less oil is required while cooking.

What should I use to clean my cast iron skillet then?

Basically, all you need is hot water and a paper towel or cloth to scrub if your pan got some food stuck on it. I normally

Risk of rusting

There is a risk that your favorite cast iron skillet will rust over time if you wash it.

But why is that? Well, water and cast iron don’t go together. Not only can it ruin the surface layer of your skillet, but it may also cause the metal to rust and corrode over time.

Avoid touching the soap when cleaning a skillet. Soap isn’t just bad for your skin but bad for cooking as well. If you need to clean off food leftovers from the skillet, use some alternates that are discussed in this blog post.

Seasoning layer removed

Another reason not to wash a cast iron skillet with soap and water is that all the seasoning will be completely washed off.

Remember: The whole point of seasoning your cast iron is to make it non-stick and easy to clean. If you remove the seasoning, your skillet will be rusty, damaged, and completely useless.

Soap can’t wash away oil of skillet

Because of the lipid content in the soap, it will be very difficult to wash away oil from a cast-iron skillet. Because the oils when heated get harder and can’t be easily removed from the porous surface of the skillet. If you leave the soap in it will be a problem later on.

On top of that, if you have a cast-iron skillet that is almost black in color, this is most likely because the oils from cooking have been baked into its surface and cannot be removed with just soap and water. It can lead to health problems if you try to cook with a greasy surface.

How should you clean the cast iron skillet?

Hot water

You don’t need soap or any fancy dishwashing liquid for cleaning a cast-iron skillet. Just use some hot water and cloth to clean stuck food particles on your pan’s surface.

Rinse off extra grease after cooking

If there is extra grease immediately after cooking, just rinse it off before storing the pan into an air-tight container or dry place.

Use some Kosher salt

If you’ve had stuck-on food particles, you can use some kosher salt and grease it up just enough to dissolve the food. Then wipe or rinse with hot water. If there is rust, Kosher salt + oil is an effective method for cleaning rusty cast iron skillets.

Nylon brush

If you want to clean your pan further, scrub off stuck-on food particles with a nylon brush while still wet. The nylon brush isn’t hard enough to damage the surface of your skillet but will do the job of removing stains.

This is a safe way to remove food particles without damaging the cast iron surface.

Use a sandpaper

If you have an old rusty pan, then the best way to clean it is by cutting away any rust spots with steel wool or sandpaper. If all else fails, just replace your pan with a new one. No big deal.

Baking soda & apple cider vinegar

No need to buy expensive cleaners or oven cleaners. Just use baking soda + apple cider vinegar if you want to clean the cast iron skillet, without stripping off the seasoning layer.

This method is great for removing stains and cleaning very old pans that are almost black in color.

How to store a cast iron skillet after cleaning?

Paper towels

So your skillet is all clean and ready to store?

First, dry the cast iron skillet with a paper towel. Don’t leave any water droplets on it as it can rust your pan. If you have an extra kitchen cloth or towels, just use them to pat off all excess moisture from the skillet. Make sure that there are no puddles of water left on your skillet.

Try heat

Before wiping out excess water with paper towels or an old cotton towel, dry your cast iron skillet by heating it on the stovetop for 10 minutes.

Seal the cast iron skillet with oil

After pat drying, lightly coat or spray some cooking oil all over the surface of the skillet to prevent rust. You can also use a paper towel dabbed with oil or you can apply some grease with your bare hands if you don’t mind the smell.

Just make sure that you cover all parts for a complete seal before storing it away in a dry place.

Store it in a cool dry place

Cast iron skillets can last for years if you take good care of them. Just make sure that they are completely dried and oil-sealed before storing them in an airtight container or plastic bag to prevent rusting. The place of storage should be too hot or damp, as this will start rusting.

Store it upside down

If you don’t have any paper towel/cloth to wipe off excess moisture, store your clean skillet upside down to allow moisture to escape from inside the metal pan. And if you have a round bottom wok, just use it as a lid to prevent dust from going inside your pan.

Wrap it up with plastic

After that, wrap your skillet with plastic and store it in a cool dry place. Wrapping u not only helps to keep moisture at bay, but it is also a precautionary measure to keep your cast iron skillet from collecting dust and rust.

Final thoughts

This article has given you a better idea of why not to wash an iron skillet and what to do instead.

Now you know how to clean and store your cast iron skillets after using them. Just remember the tips mentioned above and you should have no problems maintaining your pans!

So, follow these recommendations and precautionary measures and enjoy cooking with your cast iron skillet for years to come.