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I purchased a carbon steel wok recently. It says "hand wash" is recommended but no instructions are given on it.

The wok I purchased goes through a seasoning process just like a cast iron pan. Once I am done cooking with a cast iron pan, I simply scrape away any excess food, and then I put a little oil on it. Then, it is good to go!

Should I hand wash my wok by adding water to it every time? After I am done using the wok, I wash it with water. Then, I heat up the pan to get the water off it to prevent rusting. Then, I add oil to it.

I feel adding water to it might hinder the seasoning process and is an unnecessary step. What do you wok experts suggest I do?

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If your wok is "good to go" after a scrape, a wipe, and a bit of oil, that means you've probably done a good job seasoning. I would leave it at that. You can use a bit of soap and water, from time to time, to remove tough residue. I find that too much of this removes the seasoning. It's not that big of a problem if you are gentle. I mostly try to avoid soap and water on my carbon steel and cast iron. For tough deposits or burned on bits, I heat the pan with a layer of coarse, kosher salt, then use a straight edged wooden spatula to scrape the salt around...sort of like sand paper. Be careful when wiping the bits out and discarding the salt. The salt retains the heat quite nicely. Then, I hit it with a very light coat of oil on some folded paper towel, which also allows me to feel the surface of the pan and discover any spots I might have missed.

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  • Great, thank you!
    – W. G.
    Dec 29 '20 at 0:09
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Cleaning and seasoning cast iron/steel is almost a religion for some. Personally, I normally wash my cast iron with hot water only, then dry it on the stove and wipe down with a tiny bit of oil. The hot water will not affect the seasoning. I sometimes use a tiny bit of soap to get off excess grease or flavor.

I've never understood using an abrasive like salt, especially since salt will help rust iron/steel. The seasoning should act as a barrier between the salt and the steel, but the thought of the salt still gives me the willies.

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It is not uncommon to see woks washed and dried.
If you have to wash away the whole protected layer and the place you store the wok is not completely dry, you best oil before storing.
Rust in your food is not nice and too much rust does damage the surface of the wok, as my mother found when she had completely cleaned and then forgotten the wok.

Or you can season and handle the wok afterwards as a seasoned pan.

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