When was the last time you cleaned and seasoned your cast iron? It might be time to do so!
Cast iron skillets are kitchen essentials. They are super durable and cook excellently. I mean, these pans perfectly sear or roast anything! Most importantly, cast iron pans need to be handled properly. This will ensure more delicious cast iron cooked meals to come!
The question always lingers on how to properly clean a cast-iron skillet. If you are confused by how to clean your cast iron without damaging it, have no fear. That is the reason I created a step by step guide for cleaning a cast-iron pan.
Why you Should Clean Your Cast Iron Cookware
Cleaning your cast iron maintains its integrity. By cleaning your pan, you get rid of any sneaky leftover food. It also prevents a rusty cast iron. And, no one wants rusty cast iron skillet! Most importantly, you give your skillet another layer of seasoning. Seasoning is a layer of cooking oil that sets in the skillet through baking. It protects your cast iron from rust and keeps it looking shiny.
Cast irons require minimal cleaning. At most, your skillet needs to be cleaned a few times a year. This depends on how well you care for your pan (aka do not clean it improperly!)
How NOT to Clean Your Rusty. Cast Iron Cookware
Before explaining how to clean your cast iron pan, I need to cover how you shouldn’t. This will keep you from making mistakes moving forward, preserving your skillets for years to come.
First, do not handwash it or place it in the dishwasher. The intense soap action will remove the seasoning from your pan. Your skillet’s seasoning is a protective layer that also gives the cast iron its non-stick qualities. You do not want to lose that!
Also, soaking your pan in a lot of water increases its chance of rusting. The point of cleaning your cast iron is to remove rust, not cause it. Rust eats away at the metal and tarnishes your skillet. It also is not very healthy to have near food either.
What you Need to Clean your Rusty Cast Iron Cookware
To properly clean your cast iron pan, it takes a few key things. Most of them are household staples so you do not need to worry about breaking the bank to clean your cast iron.
What you’ll need for the cleaning process:
- Scouring pad (or steel wool)
- Lots of salt
- A large sponge
- Liquid dish soap
- Paper towels
- Cooking oil (with a high smoke point, such as sunflower or a vegetable oil blend)
Once you have all these components, you are ready to clean your cast iron!
STEP BY STEP: HOW TO CLEAN YOUR CAST IRON Cookware
Ready to clean your cast iron after all this time? With these 9 simple steps, you will have a clean and newly seasoned skillet to cook meals with for the next few months.
Step 1: Pour salt into the pan
You need to add enough salt to your pan to scrub it with. Remember, you will also need enough salt to scrub the exterior as well!
Step 2: Scrub the inside of the pan with a scouring pad
With a scouring pad, gently scrub off anything stuck inside your pan. This will help you remove rust or any leftover food lingering in your pan.
Step 3: Scrub the outside of the pan.
Flip your pan over and scrub the base of your pan. This is where you may find more reddish rust. Try your best to scrub all the rust away.
Step 4: Gently wash the pan
Generally, soap is not a major friend of the cast iron, when used to wash regularly. When doing a full cleaning, you will need to wash your skillet with mild dish soap and water. I suggest using a large sponge, especially if you are cleaning a larger cast iron skillet.
With a little soap and water, cleanse your skillet with the sponge. Make sure to clean the inside, outside, and the handle.
Step 5: Rinse the pan completely
Give your pan a generous rinse with water. You need to make sure you get rid of all the leftover soap.
Step 6: Dry the pan
Once your skillet is soap-free, dry it off completely with a kitchen cloth or paper towels. You need to make sure it does not have any leftover water or soap residue.
Step 7: Add cooking oil to the skillet
It's time to begin seasoning your pan. Gently pour one tablespoon of vegetable oil into your skillet. Carefully coat the inside of your pan with your hands. With a paper towel, rub the oil on the interior and exterior of the skillet. Make sure you use a paper towel, as it will catch the excess oil and ensure you coat your cast iron evenly. It is also a lot harder to get oil out of a kitchen towel!
Step 8: Place the pan in the oven
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Immediately place your cast iron upside down on the bottom rack. Let it bake for around 1 hour. This will give it enough time for the season, or new oil layer, to set in.
Step 9: Enjoy your Newly Cleaned Cast Iron!
When your timer is up, remove the cast iron and let it cool on your stovetop. While it cools, you can marvel at your shiny and clean cast iron.
Some Pro-Tips to Consider:
- Dry your pan in the oven. If you have enough time, place your pan in the oven on low heat to dry it, before seasoning it. If you do this, make sure it has cooled off before adding in any oil.
- Use steel wool or a scrub brush if you do not have a scouring pad. Either do just as great of a job in scrubbing the pan.
- Line your oven rack with aluminum foil - By placing aluminum foil on the bottom rack will keep oil in your pan from dripping in your oven and causing smoke.
With these steps, you cannot go wrong with cleaning your cast iron skillet. I love my well seasoned cast iron and continue to maintain all of my pans for years. They are awesome pieces of cookware that need to be cared for!