I understand “cleanliness is next to godliness”.. but that doesn’t make it fun or easy! That’s why I went to find how to clean my cast iron dutch oven.
I pretty much live by the motto “If it ain’t simple, it ain’t happening”. At the same time, if I didn’t solve this I’d be in trouble.
First, dirty pans just look gross. I’m less likely to cook, more likely to waste money ordering in.. and suffer from terrible guilt pangs whenever my mom visits and sees the state of my cast iron.
Worst case, I clean it wrong and my cast iron cracks- or I get sick!
How To Always Keep Your Cast Iron Clean
There’s two simple ways to clean cast iron. Why two? Because the first way assumes the pan is hot right after cooking. The second assumes you enjoyed your meal, leaving the mess for a bit later.
Either way, you’re covered. In an ideal world, cast iron is simplest to clean when it’s still hot. That way the food particles still on your pan haven’t gotten stuck on. It’s similar to stains on clothing. It’s MUCH easier to remove a stain before the stain has had a chance to soak in and set.
The Nerding-Out Section
You can skip down. Just in case I wanted to breakdown why this works so well.
Let’s think about it. Right after cooking is the best time to clean because the pores are open on the cast iron. the faster you clean it, the faster you can dry and reseason. This keeps your cast iron pot or dutch oven not only clean but better over time.
These two methods are even more important because you don’t want to destory your cast iron! Let me explain, cast iron can be particular. You don’t want to use detergents or and abrasive cleaners because you risk ruining the seal on your cast iron. (This is called “seasoning” your cast iron). Plus, cast iron will rust if not properly cleaned and treated.
How To Clean Your Hot Cast Iron Dutch Oven
This method works best RIGHT after you’re done cooking.
Leave your cast iron on the stovetop for a moment as you let the faucet run until your water is hot. Use a towel or heat-proof handle to carry your cast iron over to the sink and submerge it in the water.
Scrape with a spatula- or the soft side of a sponge- until all the food is off. This usually takes 30 seconds or so. Be careful- the cast iron is HOT (that’s why using a wooden spatula to scrape the food off without scratching your pan may be a better idea.)
Still have bits stuck on your pan? You can put your cast iron back on the heat for 2-5 minutes and repeat this process as needed. Or go onto the next strategy..
How To Clean Your Cold Cast Iron Dutch Oven
If your cast iron gets cold, that’s no problem!
Add salt on the area where food is stuck on. Make sure the pan is still dry! You want to add just a splash of water to dissolve the salt. You’re using the salt as an abrasive to gently scrape off stubborn bits of food- we don’t want to scratch your cast iron though.
Here’s a video showing both techniques in details:
Make Your Cast Iron Stronger Than Ever
The best thing about cast iron is it gets BETTER with time. Once you finish cleaning, you want to season your cast iron. You can see how to do that simply in the video above and in our post here.
Really, the more you use your cast iron pan the more non-stick it gets. This means the flavor and ease go up while the mess and headache goes down.
Frankly, I don’t ALWAYS do dishes after I cook (most mornings you can find a dish, or 5, in the sink from the night before.)
BUT I always make cleaning my cast iron a priority. If you find it too much of a chore you can copy what I do. Usually, I put one of favorite songs on and in 3-5 minutes later the cast iron is clean and reseasoned.
And I’m ready to chow down! Do you use your cast iron pan daily too? Let me know what your favorite thing to make in it is in the comments below.