How to maintain an iron cast pan – 5 ways experts always favor

Wondering how to maintain an iron cast pan? Your appliance could stay as good as new with these expert tips

Cast iron pan with potatoes
(Image credit: GettyImages)

In some ways, knowing how to maintain an iron cast pan may seem initially seem unnecessary. This cookware is known for its durability and long life span – however, it can only last a lifetime with the correct maintenance. 

While the best iron cast cookware does require special care, the process doesn't need to be hard. In fact, when it comes to cleaning a kitchen, this is one of the quickest chores to complete. And it's even easier with an expert's help. 

Here's how experts suggest you maintain an iron cast pan – for efficient cookware in an equally efficient kitchen.

How to maintain an iron cast pan – 5 tips to extend its lifespan 

Cast iron pan

(Image credit: GettyImages)

While cleaning may begin with large surface areas – from your floor to your countertops – it's essential not to neglect your cookware. Especially when they're so key to the kitchen. However, there is more to maintaining a iron cast pan than knowing how to keep it clean. Here's what you need to know.  

1. Cook over low heat

One of the most effective ways to maintain an iron cast pan is by cooking on lower heat where possible. Daniel P. Craig, the Founder of Kitchen Deets, explains that this will protect the seasoning in the pan and make the cleaning process easier. 

Once your cast iron gets hot, it is likelier to stay hotter for longer, especially in comparison to another style of pan. So, while it is best to cook at a low temperature, you can still enjoy the heat in your pan for a noticeably long time. 

2. Avoid metal utensils 

Metal utensils are increasingly popular pantry staples, but Daniel warns that these appliances can have a negative impact on your iron cast pan. He urges you to invest in plastic or wooden utensils when cooking, as these metal alternatives will scratch the pan – and leave the cast iron looking unmaintained.  

Cast iron pan

(Image credit: GettyImages)

3. Be cautious of acidic foods

Acidic foods, including certain dairy products and some seafood, can cause long-term damage to your iron-cast pan, so it is important to remove acidic foods from your pans immediately after cooking. 'Wash the pan promptly in hot water so that acidic food doesn't break down the seasoning,' Daniel says.  

4. Avoid leaving food in your pan 

No matter how acidic your food may be, the expert warns that it is problematic to leave any product in your pan for an extended period of time. This can cause your iron cast pan to corrode – meaning it is less efficient and much less likely to last a lifetime.  

Cast iron pan

(Image credit: GettyImages)

5. Leave your pan out of the dishwasher  

There are many surprising items you can clean in the dishwasher, but Daniel warns that your cast iron pan is not one of them. 'The harsh detergent can ruin the seasoning on your pans,' he warns. Instead, you should follow an expert cleaning method, involving oil, that will leave your pan spotless in under an hour. 

'You want to dry the pan with a cloth immediately after washing, rubbing a bit of oil on it before putting it away,' explains Bill Glaser, the CEO of Outstanding Foods.

Should I oil my cast iron pan after every use?

Yes, you should oil a cast iron pan after every use. There’s a process called reseasoning that will bring your cast iron back to form. 'Clean your pan, covering it with the vegetable or canola oil, then place the pan upside down in your oven (with an aluminum foil sheet at the bottom) to bake at 350℉ for one hour. Your cast iron will emerge good as new,' explains Bill Glaser, the CEO of Outstanding Foods.'

So, while washing up can feel tedious, it is worth the extra care when it comes to maintaining an iron cast pan that will continue to serve your needs for years to come. 

What is the best oil to season cast iron?

The best oil to season cast iron is a vegetable oil, though you can use any cooking oil or fat to season cast iron pans. A spray-on oil is the simplest to apply.

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.