The One Cast-Iron Cleaning Trick You Need To Try

As any home cook who owns cast-iron cookware knows, they're fantastic, versatile cooking equipment that can last for ages. The only tricky thing is that you can't clean them the same way you would clean your other pots and pans. In fact, handling your cast iron improperly can actually damage it — and you certainly wouldn't want to do that to a piece of cookware that could very well be handed down through the generations.

When it comes to cleaning your cast-iron cookware, the trick couldn't be simpler — all you need is some coarse salt. We're not talking about a sprinkle on the surface, think bigger. In order to properly clean your cast iron skillet, you'll want to pour about 1 cup of coarse salt into a skillet when it's still a little bit warm (but not hot!). Then, you can scrub away with a folded-up kitchen towel until you're satisfied before tossing away the salt, rinsing the skillet with just hot water, and drying the cookware (via Bon Appetit).

And a warning for any cast-iron novices — no matter how much you think your pan needs a good cleaning, don't ever be tempted to toss it in the dishwasher for a cycle. That can take away all the sought-after seasoning on the surface of your skillet and wash away all the good stuff you worked so hard to get on there (via Bob Vila).

Additional tips for keeping your cast-iron cookware in great shape

While the coarse salt cleaning method works well on pans that are really in need of a good scrub, that's not something you need to be doing every single time you use your cast-iron cookware. For normal use, all you really need to do once you finish cooking is to rinse it in warm water and use a brush or scraper of some sort to help remove anything that might be stuck onto the cookware (via The Kitchn). Then, get some of that good seasoning back on there by placing the pan over a low heat and adding a very small amount of oil to the surface. That, coupled with the occasional salt scrub for particularly messy fare, should be more than enough to keep your cast-iron cookware looking great. Just make sure to keep it dry after handling or cleaning in any way. You should avoid allowing your cast-iron cookware to soak or stay damp, as that can cause the cookware to rust (via Epicurious).

Another key thing to take into account, whether it's when you're cleaning or when you're cooking, is to use tools that won't damage your pan. Cast-iron is a sturdy material, but nonetheless, you want to stick with utensils that are crafted from wood, silicone and rubber instead of metal — you don't want to risk scraping your pan.