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Feb 16, 2009 06:23 PM

Cleaning/caring for cast iron WITHOUT using paper towels?

Sorry for starting yet another cast iron thread, but my search didn't turn up an answer to my particular question. I'm rather new to cast iron - bought a 12" Lodge skillet a few weeks ago. Following the advice of many people from here and other boards/blogs, I use paper towels for just about everything related to the pan ... wiping it out after use, drying it after boiling water to loosen burnt-on crud, wiping on lard/oil for storage, coating the pan with lard/oil for seasoning, etc.

So today I did the math and I was horrified to find that if I keep using the pan as much as I do now, I'll spend more than $100 a year on paper towels to clean and maintain it! I might as well have bought a Le Creuset enameled pan and been done with it - the total cost of ownership would probably have been far less at this rate. Not to mention the enormous volume of greasy paper towels that will wind up in the local landfill.

I'd use an old T-shirt or dish towel for all this, except that I don't want to have to throw those out after I've used them, either. I'd be afraid to put them in the laundry for fear that they'd either stain my other clothes or catch on fire in the dryer. I've also heard of people using a silicone basting brush to oil cast iron for storage, but opinion is mixed as to its effectiveness.

Anyone got a paper towel-free method of cleaning and maintaining cast iron they want to share?

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  1. You can dry the pan by putting it over a low heat for a moment to evaporate the water.

    If you are seasoning or wiping on oil for some other reason, there is no reason to use a whole paper towel if that bothers you. There are always fingers.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mlgb

      We wash it by hand with a regular dish sponge. Air dry or put on low flame to dry it, then spray it with spray olive oil. No paper towels needed and the pan is in great shape.

    2. I usually wipe with a non scratch scrub pad if alot is on the pan, then rinse dry, I have a small brush I use to get any bits removed, just a regular one from the store, then usually set out to dry or set on a burner on law for a few minutes. Then add oil. I actually use my hands most times paper towels some. I have had mine for over 30 years

      9 Replies
      1. re: kchurchill5

        The OP is counting their pennies on using paper towels, wait until they figure out how much electricity its going to cost to dry the pan.

          1. re: kchurchill5

            I usually just rinse with water and scrub with a pad and put it on high heat till dry, turn it off and a light spray with a commerical non-stick spray. It's an investment.

            1. re: monku

              I'd never give up mine. I rub just with some oil but the spray would work great. I love mine, I have 4 and I'll never trade. I like the non stick, I have an atonmizer with evoo, I should of thought.

            2. re: kchurchill5

              I'm guessing you have a gas range.... doesn't work so well with electric.

                1. re: kchurchill5

                  yours must be better quality than mine (but then most are), takes me about 3-4 minutes to warm up enough to dry off a pan. perhaps I can get a new stove after the "recovery"

            3. re: monku

              LOL! KaimukiMan is right, I have a gas range. So zero electricity cost. Good point, though.

          2. I never use paper towels on my cast iron. A lick with a stiff scrub brush and a quick rinse generally do the trick. If that doesn't work, simmering a pan full of water will loosen even the toughest burnt-on goop. After a pan's cleaned out, a minute on a high burner will evaporate off any excess water and prevent rusting.

            1. Since I use the cast iron when I'm making bacon or frying stuff, I generally just use paper towels when I'm trying to soak up any oil. Otherwise, my pan can handle water and a sponge.

              1. you don't need a towel to put fat in the pan, use a brush, if anything other than plopping/pouring, melting, swirling. i also use my "misto" oil mister.

                oiling for storage? new to me!

                also, for wipe-out, use "select-a-size bounty" paper towels. or buy on sale or in bulk from a commercial supply house.