How To Clean, Care For Cast Iron Cookware

How To Clean Your Cast Iron Cooking–The Straight Truth

Cleaning & Care

If you want to experience information overload, just Google “cleaning cast iron cookware.” You will find so many conflicting ideas and theories you might just say “Forget it!” and give up. But to clean, care for cast iron cookware, really isn’t that difficult.

So 50 Campfires did the research.  We gathered the facts and compiled the simplest, most straight forward method to clean and maintain your cast iron.

FACT: Today, nearly all new cast iron skillets come from the factory PRE-seasoned and ready to cook. All you need to do is rinse it in warm water, dry it with a towel … and GO! If this new skillet or Dutch oven is your first, spend a few extra bucks and buy a couple items to go with it. They even come in a convenient kit if you want. You need a brush, a scraper, and – our favorite – a chain mail scrubber.

These – and water – are all you’ll ever need to clean your cast iron if you do it the right way.

The Best and Simplest Way To Care for Your Cast Iron Dutch Ovens and Skillets

Here are the 7 simple steps:

#1 After the pan has cooled so you can comfortably handle it, remove all the cooked food you possibly can with a spatula, spoon, or pan scraper. Scrape away – you’re not going to hurt the cast iron.
The first step to clean, care for cast iron is scraping out all the visible food residue.
#2 Fill the pan with enough hot water so it comes up as high on the sides as the food did while you were cooking. Place on the heat and warm it up.
After scraping, add water to at least the level to which food reached the surface in your cast iron Dutch oven or skillet. You can use soap to clean, care for cast iron, if you like.
#3 Use your bristle brush to remove anything that’s baked on.
If there's still baked on food, try a bristle brush to clean, care for cast iron Dutch oven or skillet.
#4 If there’s some really stuck on gunk, break out the chain mail scrubber. It will remove anything you want removed … and nothing that shouldn’t be.
For truly stubborn residue break out the chain mail scrubber to clean, care for cast iron Dutch oven or skillet.
#5 Dump out the water. Wipe dry with paper towel, and return to the heat.
Next step to clean, care for cast iron is, dump out the water and dry your cast iron Dutch oven or skillet with a paper towel.
#6 Once it’s completely dry and a little bit warm, drizzle a bit of vegetable based cooking oil (sorry, NOT bacon fat at this point) or spray with a conditioning spray.
Return the cast iron Dutch oven or skillet to heat to dry thoroughly, then spray with conditioner or vegetable oil. This is a most important step to clean, care for cast iron that will last a long, long time.
#7 Wipe away dry as much oil as you can with a paper towel, then wipe inside and out with that same paper towel.
Finally, with another paper towel, wipe away excess oil from the surface to clean, care for cast iron Dutch oven or skillet.


No – we didn’t use soap! Both Lodge and Camp Chef, the two companies who dominate the cast iron market today, agree it’s fine to wash cast iron quickly with a little dish soap, as long as you rinse and dry thoroughly and apply the oil between uses.

If it will be awhile between uses and you might be storing your Dutch oven with your camping gear, a zippered case is a nice way to protect it.

The MOST IMPORTANT THING is NOT letting your cast iron sit with food or water in it. Clean it up as soon as the meal is over, and you’ll never have a problem and never lose the non-stick seasoned finish from your cast iron.

Want to see how to clean, care for cast iron cookware step-by-step in video form? Check out 50 Campfires video on Bass Pro Shops 1Source.