How A Simple Paper Towel Can Keep Your Cast Iron From Rusting

Cast iron pans are a must for any serious home chef, but many people may shy away from using them because they are scared they won't be able to keep them clean without making them rust. Cleaning a cast iron pan does indeed require different processes than other household pans. For instance, cast iron pans should never be soaked in an attempt to loosen crusted-on food. These common cleaning mistakes are sure to ruin your cast iron pans. But keeping your favorite pan rust-free does not need to be complicated. Placing a paper towel in your pan after you clean it can help absorb excess moisture and prevent rust formation.

Paper towels can also come into play in other parts of the cast iron maintenance process. To make sure your pan is clean without getting rusty, wash it with warm water by hand, using soap to clean your cast iron pan if needed. Thoroughly dry it afterward using a paper towel, and smooth a light layer of cooking oil over its surface — again, using a paper towel. Then, set another paper towel inside the pan before putting it away.

How the paper towel hack works

The key to preventing rust formation in your cast iron pans is ensuring they are not exposed to moisture for any prolonged amount of time. Unfortunately, many kitchen storage methods can increase the likelihood of moisture, particularly for people who live in humid environments. Stacking pans on top of each other or storing the pan with its lid on can trap moisture on the pan's surface. Placing a paper towel on the surface will soak up any water the cast iron may be exposed to during storage to ensure that it does not contribute to rusting the pan.

If you are hoping to cut down on your kitchen waste, you don't necessarily have to use a paper towel every time you clean your cast iron pan after using it. A lint-free cloth can do the job just as well, though you may have to throw it in the laundry every once in a while, as it could get seasoning oil on it from contact with the pan. Whatever method you choose, keeping your pan dry is the best way to avoid needing to remove rust from your cast iron skillet with a more abrasive method and then having to reseason it.