The fastest way to ruin a cast-iron skillet is to put it in the dishwasher or soak it in water. Cleaning is a simple as following this three-part cleaning process while the pan is still warm from cooking: rinse, dry, and oil. Avoid detergents that will leave a residue or scouring pads that will scratch. Instead, rinse your cast-iron skillet and wipe clean with a lint-free cloth before drying well. Once dry, apply a light coat of oil to the pan to avoid rusting and retain its seasoning.
If kept out of the dishwasher and cared for properly, wooden cutting boards and spoons will last a lifetime. The best way to keep your wooden boards and spoons clean is to wash with mild dish soap and warm water. To preserve them properly, pat them dry to avoid warping. Every few months, give your wooden cutting boards and utensils a good scrub of lemon juice and coarse salt to remove stains and polish off worn edges. Finish by wiping with oil or waxing to preserve the wood.
Dull knives are born of two faults: plastic cutting boards and dishwashers. To keep your knives honed, regularly sharpen them and avoid cleaning in the dishwasher. Wash knives by hand in a mild dish soap and water, keeping the blade facing away from you and low in the sink. Once washed, dry with a kitchen towel to avoid rusting.
Copper pots and pans are iconic cooking essentials that should never go in the dishwasher. The easiest nontoxic way to clean them is washing them by hand in warm, sudsy water and polishing them with a lemon, salt rub. Simply cut a lemon in half, cover the open side of the lemon in table salt, then rub the pot with the lemon in circular motions. Gently rub until the tarnish is removed, then rinse well and towel dry.
Placing an insulated mug in the dishwasher will crack and break down its insulation. The best way to clean an insulated travel mug is to rinse it with warm water and soap. Avoid submerging them in water. If you have a particular odor or stain that you are trying to remove, wash with a pinch of baking soda and hot water.
What nonstick pans offer in functionality, they also offer in ease of cleaning. But if you mistreat a nonstick pan by placing it in the dishwasher or shocking the pan with high temperatrues, its function will diminish and it will soon need to be replaced. The best way to clean a nonstick pan is to wait for it to get to room temperature, wash it with a mild dish soap, then use a sponge to wipe it clean.