Last Updated on July 3, 2023 by Shari Mason
A cast iron skillet is a durable, versatile kitchen tool. It can be used for different cooking methods, such as pan-frying, sautéing, baking, and more.
However, cleaning a cast iron skillet appears to be a hard-won treatment in most cases for owners.
So can you put a cast iron skillet in the dishwasher?
Read on to learn whether it is safe in the dishwasher or not as well as how to properly care for, clean, and restore it for a lifetime of use.
Can You Place a Cast Iron Skillet in the Dishwasher?
No, we don’t recommend placing your cast iron in the dishwasher because you will only end up in a rust situation with your pan, which you will surely regret later on.
Cast iron is a metal alloy, which is a combination of iron and carbon. Like any other metal after getting exposed to its catalysts, it will develop a chemical reaction called “corrosion.”
Rust is a popular kind of corrosion. It forms when reactants such as iron, oxygen, and water molecules are all present , which is the impending case if you put the pan in the dishwasher.
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Is It Dishwasher Safe?
No, putting cast iron pan in the dishwasher will only result in your pan not being as non-stick and more likely to rust. In fact, it will only do more harm than good for your cast iron.
Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors—it’s how you combine them that sets you apart.”Wolfgang Puck, Chef
There are proper steps in cleaning your cast iron pan, and putting it in the dishwasher after every use is never on the list, to begin with.
What Will Happen If You Put a Cast Iron Skillet In The Dishwasher?
It Will Ruin The Seasoning
Dishwashing detergents and high temperatures in the dishwashing cycle will strip the seasoning layer or protective coating off your pan’s surface.
Furthermore, it will ruin some hard-earned associated flavor and non-stick coating, which is the polymerized oil that bonded into the cast iron from all the cooking in the past.
It is one of the main reasons why it is a big mistake to put cast iron pan in the dishwasher with the other dishes.
It May Cause Rusting
After the harsh detergents remove the protective layer of the pan’s surface, leaving only the interior, prolonged exposure to water and high heat will develop rust.
Ideally, all the reactants are present for a chemical process during a dishwashing cycle. Getting soaked in hot water for a long period will also accelerate the buildup of rust.
Case in point, the dishwasher is the perfect environment to damage or destroy your cast iron cookware without fail.
How To Properly Clean Cast Iron Skillets
Wash By Hand
Before hand washing it, remove any food residue sticking on the pan’s cooking surface with a wooden spoon or plastic spatula.
Use a pan scraper, non-abrasive sponge, or crumpled aluminum foil to scrub off tough and hardened food particles and grimes.
Wash it with warm water, a few splashes of mild dish soap, and a stiff brush. Rinse the pan meticulously with plain water.
After hand washing it, make sure to dry all areas, including the insides and the outsides of the pan, to prevent rust buildup.
Use a clean cloth or paper towel to dry any droplet of water. If you notice little black smears on your towel, it’s just some remains of the seasoning layer.
You can also dry the pan by heating it from medium to low heat settings until all signs of water have evaporated.
Oil It Up
Now that your cast iron cookware is clean, it’s time to season it. Apply a small amount of cooking oil and rub it with a clean cloth or paper towel on the entire surface.
Continue rubbing until it starts to look like a smooth, thin layer. This process will help build up a nonstick surface on your cast iron pan.
Tips & Tricks When Cleaning Cast Iron Skillet
- Clean your cast-iron skillet immediately after every use while it’s still warm.
- You can use coarse salt to clean your pan’s surface for stuck-on food particles.
- Avoid using abrasive scrubbers like scouring pads, metal brushes, or steel wool as they can dig through the seasoning and scratch the interior.
- Cut a potato in half and add a pinch of baking soda to it, then scrub it into the skillet.
- Mix 50% water and 50% vinegar. Soak the skillet in the solution for three hours. Afterward, scrub the rust off, and then re-season the skillet.
Can You Use Soap To Clean Cast Iron Skillets?
Yes. Most soap products today are gentle enough to clean your cast iron cookware Therefore, you don’t have to worry about soapy water creating rust or removing the seasoning.
Soap will remove the excess oil that you carefully cooked, which has been left on the pan’s surface after cooking . Even so, it will also help soften and eliminate stubborn stuck-on food.
What To Do if You Place a Cast Iron Skillet in the Dishwasher?
If It Is Rusted
Scrub all the rust off your pan with steel wool (the only time you’ll ever use it) and some elbow grease until it is rust-free.
Hand wash it with hot water and a stiff brush and dry it meticulously. Re-season with a thin layer of vegetable oil all over the pan.
Place the cast iron pan upside down on the top rack of the oven and heat it for one hour at 400°F or higher.
If It Is Grey & Flaking
Rub kosher salt all over the cast iron pan with a towel. Remove as many flakes as you can, then wash and dry the pan meticulously.
Re-season the pan by rubbing a thin layer of oil with a cloth, placing the pan upside down, and heating it for one hour at 400°F or higher on a stovetop or an oven.
Should I oil my cast iron skillet after each use?
Yes, it will help you get the most out of it and make it last for generations. Like our skin, cast iron pans also have microscopic pores, and oil is their moisturizer.
Doing so will cover them up and will prevent water molecules from getting seeped to develop rust.
Can you ruin a cast iron skillet?
Yes, whether it is a new, well-seasoned pan, or a family heirloom, without proper care, it will get ruined earlier than you expect.
Rust makes it vulnerable to cracks, holes, and warps. If there’s any single sign of these, you can no longer restore it to its top shape.
How often should I clean my cast iron skillet?
You must clean your cast iron pan after every use, but how meticulously you should clean the pan depends on the kind of food you’ve cooked in it.
Aside from hand wash in hot water, some owners clean it by scrubbing it with salt and a paper towel.
Can you put cast iron in the dishwasher without detergent?
No. Cast iron pans are never meant to be put in the dishwasher along with the other dirty dishes after use.
Even without dishwasher detergent, the cast iron in the dishwasher will still come in contact with water and oxygen, which are the main culprits for rust to develop.
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