Each time you cook with cast iron, a few burnt, crusty food bits inevitably seem to stick to the pan. If you don’t scrub it clean between uses, those bits will fossilize under subsequent layers of seasoning, creating an irregular surface that will never become truly nonstick—the opposite of what you want. Wash your pan with hot water and a drop of dish soap (yes, it’s okay to use soap!) while it’s still warm, taking care not to let it soak in water. Wipe down the pan, then set it over a low flame for a few minutes to fully dry. Rub all over with a very light coat of neutral oil before storing, just like you would after seasoning it. These steps are crucial for keeping your pan in fighting form against Public Enemy No. 1: rust. But if you ever do spot rust, don’t stress! Use an old toothbrush dipped in distilled vinegar to scrub it off, let it dry, then rub in a drop of oil. Make a regular habit of cleaning your cast iron and you’ll have a companion for life.
…And You Need a Go-To Cleaning Tool
Keep it close so you’ll actually, you know, use it. This Kamenoko Tawashi scrubber ($7 for small) is made with palm fibers that scour without scratching off the seasoning you’ve worked so hard to build. No need to exhaust your arms—you’re just trying to lift off those food bits and residual oil.