Cast iron skillets provide an affordable essential cooking tool you can use for a number of dishes. Many cooks, however, struggle with understanding the best way to clean and care for a cast iron skillet.
Cleaning Your Skillet
Cast iron cookware is prone to rusting, which means it is important you clean and season your skillet properly. Seasoning your skillet will protect it and create a nice, nonstick surface for cooking.
Washing After Use
Skillets need to be cleaned immediately after you use them. Using harsh detergents or anything too abrasive can strip the seasoning, as can putting it in the dishwasher.
- Clean the skillet while it is still warm (but not hot). Allow it to cool slightly and then begin cleaning it.
- Use hot water and a stiff bristled (non-metal) brush to clean.
- Run water in the skillet and use the brush to carefully scrub away stuck on food.
- Do not put it in the dishwasher.
- Do not use soap.
Removing Stuck-On Particles
If your brush and hot water isn't enough to remove the stuck on particles, or if your pan has become sticky, then you'll need to move onto the next phase. To remove baked-on particles:
- Pour boiling water into the pan.
- Empty pan immediately and try to remove particles with your brush.
- If this doesn't work, make a paste of kosher or sea salt and water and scrub using a paper towel.
- Rinse thoroughly.
- Dry immediately.
You must dry your skillet as soon as you are done washing it, or it will rust and/or lose seasoning. You may use any of the following methods to dry your skillet. Do not allow it to air dry.
- Use a soft towel or paper towel and dry thoroughly, making sure you get in along the pan's interior edges as you dry.
- Place the skillet over a very low burner and allow it to dry or dry skillet in a 200 degree oven.
Sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, your skillet still winds up rusty. This can occur if it remains damp, goes through the dishwasher, is in a high-humidity environment, or if the seasoning has worn away. All is not lost if your skillet rusts, however. You can remove rust using one of the following methods.
- Make a paste sea salt and cooking oil.
- Using a wadded paper towel, scrub the rusty spots with the paste.
- Rinse away rust, salt, and oil.
- Dry pan thoroughly.
- Season your pan.
- Cut a raw potato in half.
- Dip it in baking soda.
- Rub at rust spots with potato and baking soda.
- Rinse pan after rust is removed.
- Dry thoroughly.
- Season your pan.
More Cleaning Tips
Consider the following tips for keeping your cast iron clean.
- Never use harsh detergents.
- Keep your cast iron out of the dishwasher.
- Avoid harsh abrasives, such as steel wool. Instead, use non-metal brushes.
- If you do need to use a metal brush or steel wool because of stuck-on debris, always re-season your pan.
- Cast-iron can discolor towels permanently. Keep a special towel designated for your cast iron or use paper towels.
With proper cleaning, care, and seasoning, your cast iron pan is a versatile kitchen tool that will last a lifetime.