Don’t clean your cast iron with soap. It will ruin it. That’s the conventional wisdom. There are even gifs to go along with it:
As part of my learning project, reducing plastic and chemical use, I wanted to stop using (and eating) Teflon. So I’ve been primarily frying with my cast iron pan.
Cleaning and seasoning cast iron is a small chore. I’ve been doing it for years with my parents’ pans, and my own. Generally, I don’t use soap, I scrub out a used pan with paper towel and re-oil it. Every few weeks (depending on use) I’d re-season it in the oven. If food was really cooked on, I’d scrub the pan with coarse salt, or boil water in it on the stove top.
However, a few weeks ago, when I was researching J. Kenji Lopez for this article, I found his notes on myths around cast iron. I read through, and one of them is to clean and scrub cast iron in a soapy sink. This was a radical suggestion and went against my beliefs about how the world worked. However, my article had been on trust, and I’d just finished blogging specifically about my trust for JKL, so I couldn’t be a hypocrite and discard his advice.
So, for the past several weeks, I’ve been washing and scrubbing my cast iron in soapy water. Once it’s clean, I pull it out, dry it a little bit, then throw it on a high heat burner to dry it completely. Once it starts to smoke, I rub in some oil with paper towel, leave it for another minute, give it another rub, then let it cool. Results?
My pan has never looked better.