How To Clean a Cast-Iron Skillet in 4 Easy Steps
Instructions for cleaning a cast-iron skillet often include a lot of don’ts: Don’t use soap, don’t use steel wool, don’t put it in the dishwasher. It’s almost enough to scare a cook off from cast iron completely! But here’s one simple do: Do follow these steps and you’ll be able to keep your skillet clean, rust-free, and well-seasoned for years to come.
How to Clean a Cast-Iron Skillet
- Add hot water: Wash by hand using hot water and a sponge or stiff brush. Avoid using the dishwasher, soap, or steel wool.
- Scrub off stuck-on bits: Scrub with a paste of coarse kosher salt and water, then rinse or wipe with a paper towel.
- Dry the skillet: Thoroughly towel dry the skillet, or dry it on the stove over low heat.
- Oil it: Using a cloth or paper towel, apply a light coat of vegetable oil to the inside of the skillet.
To keep your cast iron in good condition, you’ll want to occasionally re-season it after cleaning. (It’s not a big deal and isn’t hard at all.)
How To Clean a Cast-Iron Skillet
What You’ll Need
- Get right to it: Clean the skillet immediately after use, while it is still hot or warm. Don’t soak the pan or leave it in the sink because it may rust.
2. Add hot water: Wash the skillet by hand using hot water and a sponge or stiff brush (here’s our favorite brush, which is designed specifically for cast-iron). Avoid using the dishwasher, soap, or steel wool, as these may strip the pan’s seasoning. Make sure to use tongs or wear gloves if the water is extra hot!
3. Scrub off stuck-on bits: To remove stuck-on food, scrub the pan with a paste of coarse kosher salt and water. Then rinse or wipe with a paper towel. Stubborn food residue may also be loosened by boiling water in the pan.
4. Dry the skillet: Thoroughly towel dry the skillet or dry it on the stove over low heat.
5. Oil it: Using a cloth or paper towel, apply a light coat of vegetable oil or melted shortening to the inside of the skillet. Some people also like to oil the outside of the skillet. Buff to remove any excess.
6. Put it away: Store the skillet in a dry place.
- Using soap, steel wool, or other abrasives is not the end of the world, but you may need to re-season the skillet. If the skillet is well-seasoned from years of use, a small amount of mild soap may be used without doing much damage — just be sure to rinse it well and oil it after drying.
- Remove rust from cast iron by using steel wool or by rubbing it with half a raw potato and a sprinkle of baking soda (seriously, it works!). Again, it may be necessary to re-season the pan after cleaning.