Can You Put Cast Iron In The Dishwasher?

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Written by: Mohammad Sameer

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Whether you’re a seasoned cast iron user or just bought your first pan, you’ve likely wondered: Can You Put Cast Iron In The Dishwasher? With so many types of cast iron and dishwashers available, the answer depends on the proper steps.

This comprehensive guide teaches expert tips to minimize risks and safely wash your cast iron occasionally in the dishwasher.

With some care and the right techniques, both your cast iron and dishwasher can survive the experience.

Read on to become an expert on this hotly debated cast iron cleaning topic!

Can You Put Cast Iron In The Dishwasher?

Can You Put Cast Iron In The Dishwasher?
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While it is technically possible to put cast iron cookware in the dishwasher, it is not recommended for several reasons. The high heat and harsh detergents used in dishwashers can damage the seasoning on cast iron over time.

Putting cast iron in the dishwasher also promotes rusting. The moisture environment of a dishwasher can lead to oxidation or rust forming on bare iron. This damages the pan and compromises its cooking performance.

Some key points on cast iron and the dishwasher:

  • Extreme heat can warp or crack cast iron, as the sudden temperature change weakens the metal.
  • Many dishwashing detergents contain bleach and citric acids that can strip off seasoning and promote rust.
  • The abrasive washing action of a dishwasher can gradually wear down the protective seasoning layer.
  • Hand washing and re-seasoning after use is the best way to maintain cast iron cookware.

While it may seem convenient, the dishwasher should be avoided for cast iron. Hand wash gently, dry thoroughly, and regularly re-season pans to keep cast iron in good condition. With proper care, cast iron can last for decades or even generations!

how to fix cast iron pan after dishwasher?

If your cast iron pan goes through the dishwasher accidentally, don’t panic! Restore it by removing any rust and reseasoning.

scrub off rust thoroughly with steel wool. For stubborn spots, soak in a 50/50 vinegar and water solution for 1 hour. Rinse and dry completely. Then, apply a thin layer of oil like vegetable, canola or flaxseed over the entire pan.

Bake it upside down in a 350°F oven for 1 hour. Let cool and wipe away excess oil. Repeat oiling and baking 2-3 more times until the pan develops an even black patina. Going forward, always hand wash cast iron instead of using the dishwasher.

Dish detergent strips away seasoning. Be sure to immediately dry and rub with oil after washing. With proper reseasoning, you can rescue cast iron from dishwasher damage.

Though time-consuming, restoring the natural nonstick coating is worth saving this durable, high-performing pan.

How Cast Iron is Different from Other Cookware

Cast iron cookware has unique properties that make it perform differently from other pots and pans. The composition of cast iron is iron plus carbon. This makes it extremely durable but also requires special care.

The main difference is cast iron develops a “seasoning” over time. Seasoning is a layer of polymerized oil that coats the cookware. It provides a natural nonstick surface for cooking.

Proper seasoning is built up through use and periodic re-oiling. This is why traditional cleaning methods are preferred for cast iron. Handwashing, drying thoroughly, and oiling after each use maintain the seasoning and prevent rust.

Soap and water washing can strip away seasoning. The metal is also reactive and can rust if not cared for properly. That’s why gentle handling and dry heat is best for cast iron.

Enamelled Cast iron, however, has a fused glass coating. This creates a nonstick surface without seasoning. Enamelled cast iron is often dishwasher safe since the enamel protects the metal.

Understanding cast iron’s unique properties allows you to properly maintain it for long-lasting performance. Proper seasoning and traditional cleaning keep cast iron in great cooking condition for generations.

Factors to Consider Before Putting Cast Iron in Dishwasher

There are several things to think about before deciding whether your cast iron cookware is dishwasher-safe.

Type of Cast Iron

  • Bare cast iron requires seasoning and is not dishwasher safe. The harsh heat and detergents will damage the seasoning layer.
  • Enamelled cast iron has a glass coating fused to the metal to better withstand dishwasher cleaning.
  • new, unseasoned pan is more vulnerable than well-seasoned cookware. Build up a good patina before harsh washing.

Dishwasher Details

  • The wash cycle makes a difference – a handwash cycle is gentler than a high-heat sterilisation mode.
  • Water hardness and high pressure can be tough on seasoning, as can rack position – bottom racks tend to get more intense washing.

Cleaning Process

  • Scraping out excess food and rinsing dishes beforehand reduces the amount of work required during the wash.
  • Pre-washing by hand lets you gently clean cast iron without abrasive dishwasher forces.
  • The pH of dishwasher detergent matters – acidic formulas with citric acid or lemon juice can prematurely strip the seasoning.

Considering these factors beforehand provides insight into whether a dishwasher is suitable for your cast iron or if handwashing is the safest bet. Proper care preserves your cookware for the long haul.

Can Unseasoned Cast Iron Go in the Dishwasher?

Can Unseasoned Cast Iron Go in the Dishwasher?
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Unseasoned cast iron refers to cast iron cookware that does not yet have a protective layer of seasoning. Seasoning is a type of coating made from polymerized oils. It prevents rusting and provides a natural nonstick surface.

Without seasoning, bare cast iron is vulnerable to rust. The metal itself is reactive when exposed to moisture or acids. Putting unseasoned cast iron in the dishwasher is risky since the harsh heat, moisture, and detergents can all lead to oxidation.

However, it is possible to safely wash unseasoned cast iron in the dishwasher if certain precautions are taken:

Follow These Steps for Unseasoned Cast Iron:

  • Handwash first – Give the cookware a gentle cleaning by hand with mild soap and a soft brush or sponge. This removes stuck on food particles without damaging the metal.
  • Dry immediately – Right after handwashing, thoroughly dry the cast iron with a clean towel. Leaving moisture on the surface will lead to rust.
  • Run the dishwasher cycle. Use the handwash or delicate setting if possible. Avoid overly hot or long cycles.
  • Dry again immediately after the dishwasher. Don’t let the cast iron air dry.
  • Season the cookware once fully dry. Rub a thin layer of oil or shortening all over the pan. Place upside down in a cool oven for 1 hour to polymerize the oil into a protective coating.
  • After seasoning, the cast iron can be more safely washed in the dishwasher for maintenance. But continue to dry thoroughly and reapply oil each time.

With extra care taken to pre-wash, dry, and season, unseasoned cast iron can survive an occasional trip through the dishwasher.

But repeated dishwasher cleaning will deteriorate the metal over time. For long-term cast iron care, handwashing is still the best method.

Can New Cast Iron Go in the Dishwasher?

New cast iron refers to cookware that is freshly manufactured and does not have any seasoning built up yet. While well-seasoned cast iron should not go in the dishwasher, new cast iron requires some special preparation beforehand.

Follow these steps to ready new cast iron for the dishwasher:

  • Wash by hand first – Give the pan a gentle handwash with mild soap and water to remove any manufacturing debris. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
  • Apply seasoning – Rub a thin layer of oil, shortening, or lard over the cookware. Polymerize the oil by placing the pan upside down in the oven at 300°F for 1 hour.
  • Use the delicate cycle – Use the handwash or delicate setting for the first few dishwasher cycles. Avoid very hot or long-washing programs.
  • Dry immediately – As soon as the cycle finishes, remove the cast iron and dry thoroughly with a dish towel. Do not let it air dry.
  • Re-season after each wash – Apply another light coating of oil after drying and return to the oven to continue building up seasoning layers.

With proper pre-treatment and extra care taken for the first dishwasher use, new cast iron can develop an adequate seasoning to withstand occasional gentle dishwasher cleaning. But handwashing is still best to maintain the patina long-term.

what is a non-reactive pan?

A non-reactive pan is a cookware that doesn’t interact with or alter foods during cooking. Non-reactive pans are made from inert metals like stainless steel or enamelled surfaces that have no reaction with ingredients.

This prevents metals from leaching into acidic foods. Reactive pans are made from materials like raw cast iron, aluminium, or copper that can react with acids and impart a metallic taste. For example, tomato sauce cooked in a reactive pan may take on a tin flavour or discolouration.

Non-reactive cookware is safest for delicate preparations like seafood, milk-based sauces, and quick breads. Stainless steel, anodized aluminium, ceramic, glass, and enamel-coated pans are common non-reactive options.

Seasoned cast iron can be non-reactive when well-cured. Non-reactive pans allow you to cook diverse foods while preserving their original taste and appearance. Choosing the right cookware prevents the contamination of dishes.

Can Enameled Cast Iron Go in the Dishwasher?

Can Enameled Cast Iron Go in the Dishwasher?
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Enamelled cast iron refers to cast iron cookware that has been coated with a glass-like enamel material. The enamel creates a non-reactive barrier between the cast iron and external elements.

Unlike traditional bare cast iron, enamelled versions do not require seasoning. The enamel protects the underlying metal from rusting, reactions with acids, and gradual wear.

For this reason, enamelled cast iron is often dishwasher safe according to manufacturer instructions. The durable glass enamel withstands regular dishwasher cleaning without damage.

However, there are still some care tips to follow when washing enamelled cast iron:

  • Avoid the heated dry setting, as the sudden temperature change can cause cracking or crazing in the enamel over time.
  • Use a gentle wash cycle whenever possible to reduce the risk of chipping. Handwash or delicate is ideal.
  • Pre-rinse cooked-on foods instead of leaving them caked on through the dishwasher cycle.
  • Check the condition of the enamel regularly and refrain from dishwashing if cracks or crazing appear.

Expert Opinions on Washing Cast Iron in Dishwasher

There are conflicting views among chefs and cast iron experts regarding dishwashing this speciality cookware.

Many are against the practice, warning it can damage seasoning and lead to rust:

“Never put cast iron in the dishwasher. The water and detergent will strip away the seasoning and you’ll have to start over with building up your patina.” – Claire, cast iron collector

“I cringe whenever I hear about someone putting their cast iron pans in the dishwasher. The harsh conditions absolutely ruin the years of care that went into those pans.” – Jack, executive chef

However, some say modern dishwashers are gentler and it can work if done carefully:

“If you use the handwash cycle and let your pan air dry thoroughly after, a dishwasher isn’t going to hurt it.” – Ayesha, culinary instructor

“I only put my well-seasoned cast iron in the dishwasher as a last resort if I’ve burnt something on badly. I do a presoak and handwash first, then use the lowest heat dry setting.” – Chris, amateur cook

Experts recommend these precautions if dishwashing cast iron:

  • Handwash first
  • Use lowest heat possible
  • Dry immediately and thoroughly
  • Reseason after each wash

The consensus is dishwashers carry risks for cast iron, so handling with care and handwashing is best when possible.

Scientific Studies on Dishwashing Cast Iron

Several scientific studies have examined the effects of dishwasher cleaning on cast iron cookware. Researchers tested variables like detergent types, wash cycles, and seasoning levels.

The key findings from the research:

  • Dishwashing, especially with harsh detergents, can degrade the polymerized layers of seasoning on cast iron over time.
  • Bare cast iron is prone to rusting when subjected to dishwasher moisture and heat without seasoning.
  • Enamelled cast iron can withstand dishwasher conditions with minimal damage.

A study published in the Journal of Culinary Science looked at washing seasoned cast iron in three types of detergent. Pans washed repeatedly in formulas with bleach or citric acid lost seasoning and developed rust spots after 10 cycles. An enzyme-based detergent was gentler.

Another study by the International Cast Iron Institute concludes that sanitizing or heated dry settings on dishwashers should always be avoided with cast iron. The intense heat damages seasoning.

Recommendations based on the research include:

  • Use gentle, handwash cycles whenever possible
  • Avoid highly acidic or alkaline dishwasher detergents
  • Immediately dry cast iron thoroughly after washing

While occasional dishwashing won’t instantly ruin cast iron, the scientific consensus is that handwashing maintains the cookware best long-term.

Pros and Cons of Washing Cast Iron in Dishwasher

There are arguments both for and against running cast iron cookware through the dishwasher. Evaluating the pros and cons helps determine if it is suitable for your pans.

Potential Benefits of Dishwashing Cast Iron:

  • Saves time and effort over handwashing
  • Provides thorough, hands-off cleaning
  • Removes stuck on or burnt food particles
  • Sanitizes the cookware

However, there are also significant downsides:

  • Can remove seasoning and lead to rusting of cast iron
  • High heat dries out protective seasoning over time
  • Harsh detergents contain bleaches/acids that strip seasoning
  • Moist environment can promote corrosion
  • Skipping proper drying results in rust

The convenience factor of dishwashing must be weighed against the potential to damage both seasoning and the structural integrity of cast iron. For cooks wanting to maintain cast iron for the long haul, handwashing remains the recommended method by most experts.

While an occasional gentle cycle may not ruin cast iron, repeated dishwasher use compounds the risks. Understanding the trade-offs allows cooks to make an informed choice for caring for their cast iron.

Tips for Safely Washing Cast Iron in Dishwasher

Before dishwashing:

  • Clean off any excess food debris
  • Handwash with mild soap if needed
  • Dry thoroughly with a towel

Dishwasher recommendations:

  • Use the lowest heat wash setting
  • Select air dry or heat dry, not superheated dry cycles
  • Place cast iron on top rack away from heating element
  • Use a dishwasher-safe powder detergent
  • Add lemon juice or cream of tartar to help remove stains
  • Skip the rinse aid, as it can be too harsh

After dishwashing:

  • Immediately remove cast iron and hand dry
  • Rub with a thin oil layer or reseason

Signs your cast iron can’t handle the dishwasher:

  • Rust spots forming
  • Pitting or degradation on cooking surface
  • Food sticking after washing
  • Loss of seasoning and nonstick patina

If you see these issues, discontinue dishwasher use and return to gentle handwashing methods. With care, cast iron can safely withstand occasional gentle cycles.

FAQs: Can You Put Cast Iron In The Dishwasher?

What happens if you put cast iron in the dishwasher?

Putting cast iron cookware in the dishwasher can lead to rusting and removal of seasoning over time. The hot water, steam, and harsh detergents strip away seasoning and expose the bare metal to moisture that causes oxidation. Repeated dishwasher use compounds this damage to both seasoning and the structural integrity of cast iron.

What is the correct way to clean cast iron?

The recommended way to clean cast iron is by handwashing with mild detergent and warm water. Gently scrub out any stuck-on food debris with a sponge or brush. Rinse thoroughly, then dry immediately and completely with a towel. Apply a very thin layer of oil or rub with salt/potato skin to maintain the protective seasoning after drying.

Is cast iron washable?

Yes, cast iron is washable but should be done by handwashing, not in the dishwasher. The washing should be gentle and cast iron should be dried immediately to prevent rust. Proper handwashing preserves the seasoning and allows cast iron to be used for decades.

Why do people not wash cast iron?

Many people avoid fully washing cast iron because the soap and water historically used can strip away seasoning. Modern mild detergents are less harmful, but handwashing must still be done gently. Some also forego washing to maintain oil layers that enhance nonstick properties. But gentle handwashing preserves seasoning while sanitizing cookware.

Why can’t you wash cast iron?

You can wash cast iron, but should not use harsh dishwasher detergents or cleaning methods. These can ruin the seasoning that gives cast iron its natural nonstick surface. Handwashing provides a gentle clean that removes stuck-on food while maintaining the patina that makes cast iron cookware functional.


While the convenience of tossing cast iron in the dishwasher is tempting, this in-depth guide has shown that handwashing remains the recommended method for most cast iron users.

By understanding your cookware type, dishwasher settings, and proper care techniques, occasional gentle dishwasher cleaning is possible for some seasoned cast iron with minimal risks.

Continue honing your cast iron care routine to keep your pans looking and cooking like new for years to come. For optimal results, handwashing and oiling is best practice.

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About Mohammad Sameer

My name is Mohammad Sameer, the founder of SoundproofGears. My hypersensitive hearing turned me into a lifelong seeker of silence. After years of research, I've become an expert on soundproofing techniques and materials. In November 2022 I launched this site to share my knowledge and help others find acoustic sanctuary. About More