How to Care for Your Camp Cookware

May 17, 2021 | Food & Camp Cooking

How to Care for Your Camp Cookware

Frequent use, exposure to the elements, and greasy foods can cause buildup. Follow these steps to keep your camp cookware in great shape for years to come.

By Kerry Sainato

To make the most of your outdoor cooking experiences, it’s important to keep your cookware clean and maintained. From regular cleaning to seasonal maintenance, these tips will ensure your cookware can deliver delicious meals at the campground for a long time to come.

How to Care for Cast Iron

A variety of camp cooking gear is made from cast iron. Cast iron is perfect for outdoor cooking because it’s sturdy and can last forever if maintained properly. 

Cast iron pans with salt in them
Cast iron cookware with kosher salt scrub. | Photo: Kerry Sainato

Common Types of Cast Iron Camp Cookware

How to Clean Cast Iron 

Most likely, any cast iron cookware you own has been seasoned. This means that the cookware has been coated in oil and then heated for several hours, which creates a black, non-stick coating. This seasoning protects cast iron from rust. 

The key to long-lasting cast iron cookware is to not disturb this coating. You should steer clear of anything abrasivecleaners or toolswhile cleaning cast iron.

Follow these steps for cleaning your cast iron cookware after every use:

  • After cooking, wipe out any remaining debris from your cast iron cookware with a damp towel or sponge. 
  • If the cookware is heavily soiled, use plain, soapless hot water and wash it with a non-abrasive sponge or washcloth. You can also apply a few tablespoons of kosher salt and some elbow grease to stubborn, stuck-on food particles. Or you can use chain mail specifically made for cleaning cast iron.
  • Once clean, dry thoroughly. To ensure your cookware is completely dry, place over a heat source for 5 to 10 minutes to burn off any excess water.
  • Once dry and cool, use a paper towel to rub the cast iron with a thin coating of neutral oil, like canola oil. 
  • To store, try not to stack with other cookware. If you need to stack due to limited space, layer a paper towel or tea towel between the cast iron and other cookware to protect the surface.
  • To maintain, keep cooking with your cast iron cookware. The more you use it, the more you will build up the non-stick seasoning, which makes it easier to clean and less likely to rust.

How to Care for a Portable Grill

Your portable grill needs minimal maintenance after each use, but should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a year, depending on how often you use it.

Fully cleaned portable charcoal grill ready for storage
Fully cleaned portable charcoal grill ready for storage. | Photo: Kerry Sainato

How to Clean Your Grill After Each Use

  • After cooking—but while the grill is still hot—use a stainless steel wire brush to clean off any food debris from the grates. 
  • Use an all-purpose cleaning spray and damp sponge or washcloth to clean the outside of your grill.
  • If you’re using a charcoal grill, once cool, remove and dispose of charcoal ash.
  • If you’re using a gas grill, once cool, remove and clean the grease tray. 

How to Clean Your Portable Grill After Camping Season

Deep clean your portable grill at the end of your camping season. If you use your grill all year long, deep clean it twice per year. 

Portable charcoal grill ready for seasonal maintenance
Portable charcoal grill ready for seasonal maintenance. | Photo: Kerry Sainato
  • Remove the grill grates and soak them in warm soapy water. Scrub them with a firm bristled brush or steel wool to remove built up grease and debris.
  • Clean the elements inside the grill.
    • For gas grills:
      • Turn off the gas and disconnect the propane tank from the grill.
      • Remove the heat plates and soak in soapy water. Remove dirt and grease buildup with a scrub brush or steel wool.
      • Remove the burner tube and scrub with a firm bristled brush and soapy water. Take care to clear any of the tiny holes that might be clogged using a toothpick or needle.  
      • While the heating element is detached from the grill, clean the inside of the grill, including the sides and bottom. Scrub away any built up grease and debris. 
    • For charcoal grills:
      • Remove any ash or pieces of partially used charcoal. 
      • Clean the inside of the grill, including the sides and bottom, with mild soap and steel wool. Scrub away built up grease and debris.
  • Rinse everything with fresh water and reassemble.
  • Use an all-purpose cleaning spray and damp sponge or washcloth to clean the outside of your grill, including the lid.
  • Let your grill dry completely before storing.

How to Care for an Instant Pot

An Instant Pot is a workhorse in the kitchen and a favorite among RVers. As an added bonus, it’s easy to clean and maintain. 

Disassembled Instant Pot
Photo: Kerry Sainato

How to Clean Your Instant Pot

After each use, take the following steps to clean your Instant Pot:

  • Remove the Instant Pot insert and wash it thoroughly in soapy water. Rinse with fresh water.
  • Remove the silicone ring from the lid and wash in warm soapy water and rinse.
  • Wash the lid in warm soapy water and rinse. 
  • Empty the condensation collector and rinse it out.
  • Clean the outside of the Instant Pot with a damp sponge or towel. 
  • Take special care to clean the top rim of the Instant Pot housing. Wipe with a damp towel or small scrub brush to remove any food particles stuck inside the rim.
  • Once all parts are dry, reassemble for storage: Put the insert back into the Instant Pot, place the silicone ring back in the lid, and twist the lid back on. 

More Instant Pot Maintenance Tips

  • The silicone ring tends to take on food odors. This won’t affect the flavor of your food, but if the smell bothers you, soak in white vinegar to remove the odor. 
  • The silicone ring may warp over time. If your lid isn’t sealing properly, replace the ring.
  • If your vent isn’t sealing when pressure cooking, remove the float valve and clean with soapy water. Rinse and dry before placing it back into the lid. 

How to Care for a Propane Stove

A propane camp stove makes it easy to cook outdoors. Regular cleaning after each use should keep your propane stove in great shape for years of campsite cooking.

Propane stove on picnic table cooking eggs

How to Clean Your Propane Camp Stove

Take the following steps to clean your propane camp stove after each use:

  • Turn off the propane and remove the propane canister from the stove.
  • Remove the burner rings and wash with soapy water and rinse. 
  • Clean the surface of the stove with soapy water. For tougher stains or grease buildup, sprinkle with baking soda to help scrub away the grime.
  • Wipe down the outside of the camp stove with warm soapy water. 
  • Allow to dry completely and reassemble the burner grates.

How to Clean Clogged Burners

If your burners are clogged causing a weak cooking flame, take the following steps to clean the burners.

  • Turn off the propane and remove the propane canister from the stove.
  • Remove the burner rings or grates and set aside.
  • Unscrew and remove the burners. 
  • Soak the burners in a mix of vinegar and warm water for 10 to 20 minutes. Use a firm bristled brush to scrub off baked-on debris that’s clogging the burner holes.
  • Rinse and allow to dry thoroughly before reattaching to the camp stove. Replace the burner grates.

Helpful Cleaning Products for Your Camp Cookware


Follow these steps to keep your cooking equipment ready to use at all times. Regular cleaning and maintenance of your camp cookware will allow you to cook with ease while camping and ensure you’re always eating well during your outdoor adventures.

This article has links to products that were carefully selected by our editors. We may earn commission on your purchases from these links. Visit this page for the full details of our affiliate marketing policy.

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Kerry Sainato

Kerry bought a tiny teardrop trailer on a whim over four years ago and is now an enthusiastic RV traveler. She spends most of her camping nights in New England, but is working on plans for a year-long cross country journey with her husband. Kerry also owns and operates a cooking blog, cookwithkerry.com, and loves cooking over the open fire during her camping adventures.

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