Yes, You Can Use Dish Soap on Cast Iron

Freshly cleaned cast iron pans, sitting on a wooden tableAnna Mente / Shutterstock

We are destroying the myths of this dish soap and our cast iron mistake. Learn when and how to use dish detergent on your cast iron stove without destroying the pan.

The cast iron stoves have a cult clientele – and for good reason. They are quite impressive and versatile, but it brings a whole series of rumors about their care and maintenance. You may have heard that using dish soap on cast iron would ruin the finish, making you switch from a piece of well-seasoned kitchen equipment to a rust-prone piece of metal. However, this is simply not the case. Here's why.

Soap does not wash the seasoning

To understand this myth, we must look at what happens when we season the melt. Seasoning a pan is not like seasoning food. We do not do it for flavor. We do this to create a smooth, nonstick surface.

The seasoning occurs by the polymerization and then the carbonization of cooking fats. Essentially, the molecules in the fat are crosslinked with the cast iron. This forms a hard layer that does not tear easily, even with dish soap.

So, as long as the pan is seasoned properly, the dish soap will not hurt it.

That said, you do not want to soak your cast iron (even in plain water without soap) for a long time. Ten minutes or more for scouring will not hurt, but avoid soaking for hours or overnight.

But it's also not the most effective way to clean your cast iron

Many cast iron owners wipe their way between uses and stay there. But if you have real food that sticks, you will need to scrub. Of course, you could try the rough side of a sponge and dish soap, but there are better ways.

You can clean most of the mess by using coarse kosher salt and a damp sponge. Better yet, order yourself a chain purifier. No sticky jaw will resist the chain mail and no, it will not hurt your cast iron or its seasoning.

And after cleaning this mess, if you feel comfortable washing it with a soapy sponge, go for it. We promise that it will not destroy your pan.

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