How To Clean A Cast Iron Skillet

A cast iron skillet is an essential tool for any home cook. It’s incredibly durable, has a natural non-stick surface, and has almost unparalleled heat retention. On top of all that, a cast iron skillet is relatively affordable, you can easily find a quality one for under $50 that can last you for years on end.

While cast-iron skillets are made to last, proper maintenance is very important when it comes to maintaining the skillet’s quality. Aside from that, having clean and well-cared for tools is a key step in keeping your kitchen organised. But how exactly do you clean a cast-iron skillet?

In this article, we lay out an easy-to-follow, 3-step method to cleaning your cast iron skillet. Read on to learn more.

The 3-Step Method To Cleaning A Cast Iron Skillet

Wash The Skillet

The first step to properly cleaning a cast iron skillet is washing it. This needs to be done after every use to ensure that it is always clean and retains its quality. To start, empty all the leftover oil and wipe off all the remaining food from the skillet. Once that is done, rinse the skillet under warm or hot running water. This will remove whatever oil is stuck to the pan. You can also add a bit of soap an clean it with a non-abrasive or non-metal brush. Remember use a nice, soft brush to scrub the skillet and not to use too much soap, or else you might end up needing to re-season the skillet.

Once you’ve completed that, simply rinse everything off and proceed to the next step.

Dry The Skillet

After washing, you have to dry the skillet. A common mistake people make when cleaning their skillet is drip-drying it, don’t do this, as it can lead to your pan not being dry enough for the next step. Instead, you can get paper towels and slowly pat down on the surface until it dries. This might take some time, but it will be worth it in the long run.

If patting down the skillet with paper towels didn’t dry it enough, you could also put it on top of the burner and set it to the lowest heat possible. Watch closely as when it completely dries you’ll be ready to move on to the next step.

Oil The Skillet

This is the last step to cleaning your skillet, and it’s one of the simplest. Simply grab some cooking oil or cooking spray and apply a very light layer onto the surface of the skillet. Make sure it’s spread evenly. Once that’s done, you can use a paper towel to wipe the surface until no oil is left on the surface.

And that’s it. That’s all you’ll need to do for a basic cleaning of a cast-iron skillet. However, if you have a rusty pan that needs restoration, there are a couple more things you’ll have to do to clean it.

Restoring And Old Or Rusty Cast-Iron Skillet

Scrub And Dry The Skillet

Just like with regular-cleaning, you’re going to need warm water. However, the difference here is you have to use soapy water and steel wool. Scrub the pan until all the residue is removed and then rinse everything off thoroughly. After that, you need to pat dry the skillet with paper towels as you do when you normally clean it.

Oil The Skillet

Just like with regular cleaning again, you have to oil the skillet very lightly. However, to re-season the pan, you have to apply a thin layer of oil inside and out. Make sure not to use too much though, as it can cause the pan to become sticky. Once you have oiled the pan, it’s time to move on to the last step.

Heat The Skillet

This is the final step in re-seasoning or restoring an older skillet. Once it’s nicely oiled, it’s time to heat it up. The easiest way to do this is to bake it. You can put it in the oven with a baking sheet or aluminum foil below the rack to collect any oil or residue that falls off. After that, set the oven to 400F and wait an hour. When you remove the pan from the oven, give it time to cool and repeat the process as necessary. You’ll know it’s done when it has the signature black patina that you see on cast-iron skillets.

If you don’t have an oven, you can also do this over the stove. To do this, you have to heat the skillet over medium high-heat after drying it. DO NOT OIL THE SKILLET BEFORE PUTTING ON THE STOVE. While the skillet is heating up, dip a paper towel in two tablespoons oil and use tongs to wipe the oil onto the pan’s surface. Keep doing this until the skillet smokes and there is no more oil remaining on the pan. You have to do this around 3-5 times before achieving that black patina, and you also have to let the skillet cool before repeating the process.

And that’s about it. All you’ll need to know about cleaning and re-seasoning a cast-iron skillet. Remember, keeping all your tools clean is the key to an organised kitchen. Now, all that’s left to do is get cleaning and start cooking!