Ever wondered how to clean a cast iron skillet without turning it into a rusty mess? All you have to do is scrub it down in some hot water – no soap involved. Dry it super well, and you’re ready to go!
But wait, we’ve also taken the liberty to show you how to clean it if water isn’t doing the trick PLUS we have a step-by-step tutorial for how to re-season it once it’s been cleaned!
Cleaning Supplies You’ll Need
To clean a cast iron skillet, you’ll need just a few items. Here’s what you’ll need:
Daily Cleaning Supplies
- Non-scratch sponge or brush
- Paper towels or clean cloth
- Hot water
Deep Cleaning Supplies
- Coarse kosher salt
- Vegetable oil or other neutral oil
- Pan scraper
- Oven cleaner (optional)
How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet
Cleaning your cast iron skillet after each use is essential to maintain its longevity. Here is a simple daily cleaning routine to keep your skillet in top shape.
- Let the skillet cool down before cleaning it. Never use cold water on a hot skillet, as this can warp the metal.
- Use hot water and a mild, non-abrasive sponge to gently scrub the skillet. Avoid using soap, as it can strip the skillet of its seasoning.
- Rinse the skillet thoroughly with hot water to remove any remaining food particles and residue.
- Dry the skillet thoroughly with a clean towel or paper towel. Do not let it air dry, as this can cause rust to form.
- Apply a thin layer of oil to the skillet to prevent rust and maintain its seasoning.
Dealing with Stubborn Food Residue
So you’ve got some stubborn food residue stuck on your cast iron skillet. What should you do? Here are a few tips to help you get your skillet clean and ready to use again.
First, try using a plastic scraper or a stiff-bristled brush to remove any food particles that are stuck to the skillet. Be gentle, so you don’t scratch the seasoning on the skillet. If this doesn’t work, try simmering some water in the skillet for a few minutes to loosen up the food residue. Then, use the scraper or brush to remove the residue.
If you still can’t get the residue off, you can try using a paste made from kosher salt and water. Mix the salt and water together to form a thick paste, then use a scrub brush or sponge to apply the paste to the skillet. Scrub gently, then rinse the skillet with warm water and dry it thoroughly.
Another option is to use a commercial cast iron cleaner. These cleaners are designed specifically for cast iron skillets and can be very effective at removing stubborn food residue. Just be sure to follow the instructions on the cleaner carefully, and rinse the skillet thoroughly with warm water after using it.
Deep Cleaning Procedure
Cleaning your cast iron skillet is important to keep it in good condition and maintain its non-stick surface. While regular cleaning is enough to remove most food residues, sometimes your skillet needs a deep cleaning to remove stubborn stains and build-up. Here’s how you can deep clean your cast iron skillet:
- Start by washing your skillet with hot water and a mild, non-abrasive sponge. Avoid using soap as it can strip the seasoning off your skillet. If there are any stubborn bits of food stuck to the skillet, use a combination of coarse salt and hot water to form a paste and scrub gently.
- If your skillet has rust or stubborn stains, you can use a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water to soak the skillet for a few hours. After soaking, scrub the skillet with a non-abrasive sponge to remove the rust or stains. Rinse the skillet thoroughly with hot water and dry it immediately.
- For tougher stains, you can use a baking soda paste. Mix equal parts baking soda and water to form a paste and apply it to the stained areas. Let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing the skillet with a non-abrasive sponge. Rinse the skillet thoroughly with hot water and dry it immediately.
- If your skillet has a lot of build-up or is heavily rusted, you can use an oven cleaner to remove it. Make sure to follow the instructions on the cleaner and wear gloves to protect your hands. Rinse the skillet thoroughly with hot water and dry it immediately.
Drying and Storing Your Skillet
After cleaning your cast iron skillet, it’s important to dry it thoroughly to prevent rust from forming. One effective method is to place the skillet over a medium flame and let it sit until it’s very dry, which usually takes about 5 minutes. Once it’s cool, wipe it out one more time, and then put it away. This technique is also useful for carbon steel woks, which are also prone to rusting.
Another important aspect of storing your skillet is to prevent scratching and rusting. To do this, stack your cast iron pieces, including lids, between paper towel sheets. Always focus on dryness, and your pans will last a lot longer than they would if you stack them in a humid area, freshly rinsed and wet.
If you’re storing your skillet for a longer period of time, consider adding a layer of oil to prevent rust. To do this, rub a thin layer of neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable oil, onto the skillet using paper towels or a clean rag.
Seasoning Your Skillet
You may have heard about the importance of seasoning your cast iron skillet, but why is it necessary? Seasoning is the process of adding a layer of oil to your skillet to create a non-stick surface.
This layer also protects your skillet from rust and helps to distribute heat evenly. Without seasoning, your skillet will be prone to rusting and food will stick to the surface, making it difficult to cook and clean.
Steps to Season
Now that you know why seasoning is important, let’s get into the steps to season your cast iron skillet.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Wash your skillet with warm, soapy water and dry it completely.
- Apply a thin layer of oil to the skillet. You can use vegetable oil, canola oil, or even flaxseed oil. Make sure to cover the entire surface of the skillet, including the handle.
- Place the skillet upside down in the preheated oven and let it bake for one hour.
- Turn off the oven and let the skillet cool down before removing it.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
When it comes to cleaning a cast iron skillet, there are a few common mistakes that you should avoid. By avoiding these mistakes, you can ensure that your cast iron skillet lasts for years to come.
Mistake 1: Not Preheating
One of the most common mistakes people make when cleaning a cast iron skillet is not preheating it properly. Before cooking with a cast iron skillet, it’s important to preheat it for about 10 minutes on medium-high heat, reaching a temperature of 350-375°F or higher. This will help prevent food from sticking to the skillet and ensure even cooking.
Mistake 2: Using Soap
Another mistake people make is using soap to clean their cast iron skillet. While it’s okay to use soap occasionally, using it too often can strip the skillet of its seasoning and cause it to rust. Instead, try using a non-scratch sponge and warm water to clean your skillet.
Mistake 3: Not Drying Thoroughly
After cleaning your cast iron skillet, it’s important to dry it thoroughly to prevent rust. Many people make the mistake of not drying their skillet thoroughly, which can lead to rust and other damage. To dry your skillet, simply place it on the stovetop over low heat for a few minutes, or use a clean towel to dry it by hand.
Mistake 4: Not Re-Seasoning
Over time, the seasoning on your cast iron skillet may wear off. If this happens, it’s important to re-season your skillet to prevent rust and ensure even cooking. To re-season your skillet, simply coat it with a thin layer of oil and bake it in the oven at 350°F for about an hour.
Maintaining Your Skillet for Longevity
To make your cast iron skillet last for years, you need to take good care of it. Here are some tips to help you maintain your skillet for longevity.
Clean Your Skillet Properly
Cleaning your skillet after each use is essential to prevent rust and maintain its non-stick surface. To clean your skillet, rinse it with hot water and use a mild, non-abrasive sponge to scrub it gently.
If there are any stubborn bits of food stuck to the surface, use a combination of coarse salt and hot water to form a paste and scrub gently. Then rinse with hot water and dry it thoroughly to remove any excess water droplets and prevent rust from forming.
Store Your Skillet Properly
After cleaning your skillet, it’s important to store it properly to prevent rust. Make sure your skillet is completely dry before storing it. You can store it in a dry place, such as a cabinet or pantry, or hang it on a hook in your kitchen.
If you’re stacking your skillets, make sure to place a paper towel or cloth between them to prevent scratches.
Re-Season Your Skillet
Over time, the seasoning on your skillet may wear off, making it more susceptible to rust and food sticking to the surface. To re-season your skillet, preheat your oven to 350°F. Rub a thin layer of vegetable oil or shortening all over the skillet, including the handle and bottom.
Place the skillet upside down on the middle rack of the oven and bake for one hour. Allow it to cool completely before using it again.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you clean a cast iron skillet without destroying it?
Cleaning a cast iron skillet is easy if you follow a few simple steps. First, use hot water and a mild, non-abrasive sponge to gently scrub the pan. If there are any stuck-on bits of food, use a combination of coarse salt and hot water to form a paste and scrub gently. Rinse the skillet with hot water and dry it thoroughly to prevent rust from forming.
Do you wash your cast iron after every use?
It’s not necessary to wash your cast iron skillet after every use. In fact, over-washing can actually damage the seasoning. Instead, simply wipe out any food debris with a paper towel or a clean, dry cloth. If you do need to wash your skillet, be sure to dry it thoroughly and apply a thin layer of oil to prevent rust.
What should you not clean cast iron with?
Avoid using soap or harsh chemicals to clean your cast iron skillet, as these can damage the seasoning. Additionally, don’t use metal scrubbers or abrasive sponges, as these can scratch the surface of the pan. Instead, use a non-abrasive sponge or a cast iron scrubber to gently clean the skillet.
What is the best thing to use to clean cast iron skillet?
The best thing to use to clean a cast iron skillet is hot water and a mild, non-abrasive sponge. If there are any stuck-on bits of food, you can use a combination of coarse salt and hot water to form a paste and scrub gently. Be sure to rinse the skillet with hot water and dry it thoroughly to prevent rust.
How to clean cast iron grill pan?
Cleaning a cast iron grill pan is similar to cleaning a cast iron skillet. First, use hot water and a mild, non-abrasive sponge to gently scrub the pan. If there are any stuck-on bits of food, use a combination of coarse salt and hot water to form a paste and scrub gently. Rinse the pan with hot water and dry it thoroughly to prevent rust from forming.
How often to season cast iron?
It’s a good idea to season your cast iron skillet or pan every few months or as needed. To season your skillet, apply a thin layer of oil to the surface and bake it in the oven at a high temperature for about an hour. This will help to maintain the seasoning and prevent rust.
Abbie Clark is a writer, blogger, and founder of Hey She Thrives, RideRambler, and The Bearded Bunch.
Abbie loves helping people, whether that be with an encouraging word for fellow mamas or sharing diy tips for car restoration.
Abbie is a mama, wife, and friend of Jesus.