Lodge cast iron can last a century or more if properly cleaned and maintained, which takes only a few minutes after each cooking session. Wash and dry cast iron as soon as possible after cooking, using warm water, a soft rag and a dish towel. Vegetable oil and a paper towel are necessary to prepare the pan for the next use.
- Wash by hand
Wash the cast iron in warm water, using a sponge or soft rag. Soap is not necessary because cast iron is pre-heated before cooking, which creates a sterile cooking environment. Cookware is considered sterile when it reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and cast iron reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit in just 4 minutes. However, you can use mild soapy water if you prefer, Lodge notes. Do not place cast iron in the dishwasher or clean it with a metal pad because these activities wear away the pan's seasoning. Dry the pan immediately after washing to prevent rust.
- Add oil
After each washing, rub the pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil, using your fingers or a paper towel to spread the oil. Only a small amount of oil is needed, just enough to keep the pan from drying out. Do not allow the oil to pool on the surface.
- Remove rust
Cast iron develops rust if it loses its seasoning or if it isn't dried properly. In this instance, it is appropriate to scour the rust off with a metal pad. Rinse the cast iron after scouring, then dry it and add a layer of vegetable oil.