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I live with three long haired cats that shed in the winter, and my place gets dusty at times too. I have a fairly new cast iron skillet that I use once every one or two days. I don't have any shelves in the kitchen big enough to store it so I have to hang it.

There's always cat hair and stuff stuck to it because I store it in the open. So then I have to clean it which is making seasoning difficult.

How can I store this pan in a way that is both convenient and protects it from the environment? I have found covering it in foil to be somewhat effective but tedious and not perfect, and also wastes a lot of foil. Plastic is difficult because I have to let it cool, although if the oven is off I can let it cool in there. I can't really store it in the oven because I use the oven often. The design of my house makes it impossible to keep cat hair and dust out of the kitchen.

I also don't understand the physics and chemistry behind how the seasoning layers develop so I'm not sure what storage techniques are bad for the condition and "development" of the pan.

Is there a good way to store it that keeps it clean and in good condition?

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    my tag line for a recipe site is 'only animal ingredient in my kitchen is cat hair' so I sympathize. Now my Hepa air filter makes a huuuge difference – Pat Sommer Feb 6 '18 at 16:47
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First off, cleaning isn't necessarily bad for seasoning. "Soap removes seasoning" is largely a myth; Serious Eats discusses this at length. The seasoning is actually a polymer chemically bonded to the iron, not just something coating the outside that will easily wash off, so anything that isn't able to remove the iron shouldn't remove it. Certainly a light wipe with a wet or soapy cloth is perfectly fine.

Second, a few options you might consider:

  • If you're hanging it on the wall, hang it so the main part of the pan faces the wall. This will mean less stuff gets on it (and more gets on the bottom, which is irrelevant).
  • If you crochet or knit, or know someone who does, make a cast iron pan cover. I know a friend who did this. You can make it out of a relatively heat-resistant yarn, so that it isn't damaged by the pan being warm. You might also be able to reuse an old sweater, as long as you confirm the fabric is something that can stand up to the heat (100% cotton is probably best since it's hard to say what different polyesters will do).
  • While the pan cools from your seasoning, keep it in the oven, or turn it upside down. That way it can be cooler before you cover it.
  • Buy enamelware. Maybe cast iron isn't the best idea in a long-hair cat household.
  • Before using the pan, heat it up a lot (20 minutes or so in the oven or over high heat). Then brush off whatever is on it (carefully). This will remove the cat hair effectively without risking any damage to the seasoning.
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    Wow thanks for that article; I fell victim to almost all of those myths. I'm going to turn it upside down while it's cooling, I can't make it face the wall (it's hanging above a counter between kitchen and living room) but I'm going to make a cover for it (I work with kevlar a lot and have a ton of scrap here which will be perfect; maybe a nice washable one with a zipper) and give it a quick wipe with a sponge before I use it, sounds like that will do the trick. That article gave some other great advice too. Thanks! – Jason C Jan 31 '15 at 5:55
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    Yes, every time I hear or read the but soap will hurt the seasoning, I find myself asking them then why is it SO HARD to clean an oven or toaster or anything else that has baked on grease? I use my cast iron equipment every day, and I wash it everyday with soap. To be quite frank, I also use a green scrubby (scotchbrite) when cleaning my cast iron, it keeps the bottom of the pan baby smooth by continually knocking the tops off the seasoning which I then keep replenished when I heat the pan to dry and re-oil. – Escoce Feb 17 '15 at 19:46
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This is a bit "out there" and it won't be pretty, but it might be really functional. How about one of those throw away shower caps, like hotels sometimes give away?

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  • I was going to suggest that too. Every time I go to a hotel I always take the shower cap as they are great for covering things. I use them when proofing bread for example. – GdD Jan 31 '15 at 14:55
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    They're handy. I use one on my smoke detector when I sear steak. Works a charm! – Jolenealaska Jan 31 '15 at 17:46
  • I will have to remember that trick! – GdD Jan 31 '15 at 21:19
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    don't use plastic to cover your cast iron, it will trap humidity which will cause spot rusting. – Escoce Feb 17 '15 at 19:48
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How about a plastic or paper bag once it is completely cool.

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    Paper's not a bad idea at all, I'm going to try that while I'm working on making a more proper cover. Good use of all these paper grocery bags I have stuffed under the sink. – Jason C Jan 31 '15 at 5:58
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    Paper bag is better than plastic. Plastic will hold in humidity which will cause the cast iron to spot rust. – Escoce Feb 17 '15 at 19:47
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I keep mine in the oven. Works like a charm.

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I bought shelf liner (non sticking), turned the pan upside down and traced the pattern of the pan to about 1-2 inches larger and placed it in the cooled bottom of the pans. I have not had any problems of rusting ever.

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    This is a great tip - but doesn't directly address the OP's question about dust and cat hair. While, you can infer a solution from your post it doesn't answer the question. Otherwise, welcome to Seasoned Advice! – J Crosby Sep 27 at 17:45
  • Definitely a nice tip, though! – Jason C Sep 28 at 0:56
  • This was going to be my suggestion. It makes sense. You can put the paper on while the pan is hot. – Willk Sep 29 at 18:00
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My family has always had cats and always used cast iron skillets. We "dry" them by placing on a low flame stove burner and store them in the oven...gas oven that is.

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