Cleaning cast iron skillets, griddles and other cookware is a simple process you can do in minutes. You don’t have to soak it (in fact, you shouldn’t), and it rarely requires much scrubbing. Follow this guide to easily clean it, plus find cast iron seasoning instructions.
How to Clean Cast Iron
Cast iron cookware is fabulous to cook with because it retains heat well and allows food to cook evenly. And with proper seasoning, it’s naturally nonstick. However, it’s important to properly care for it. For starters, clean it after each use, once it’s cooled:
1. Rinse. Start by rinsing your cast iron cookware under hot water. If this leaves no debris, skip to Step 4.
2. Scrub gently. For stubborn residue, add coarse salt to the pan and scrub gently using a clean, soap-free sponge or cloth until the debris is removed. Rinse under hot water. If the cast iron cookware is now free of debris, skip to Step 4.
3. Wash. If your cast iron cookware still has stuck-on messes, and rinsing and scrubbing with salt hasn’t removed it, use a tiny amount of very mild dishwashing liquid to help get it off. This does hasten the need to re-season it, so save washing as a very last resort.
4. Dry. Dry your cast iron skillet thoroughly with paper towels, then place it over medium-high heat until all the moisture is gone. This is especially important since cast iron is prone to rusting.
Cast Iron Seasoning
Once cast iron is seasoned (whether you’ve seasoned it yourself or bought it pre-seasoned), the cleaning and care procedures are the same. If it’s been pre-seasoned, rinse and dry it thoroughly before using it for the first time and know that it will eventually need to be re-seasoned.
Tip: Easily store your cast iron skillet with our Tips for Organizing Pots & Pans.
When it comes time to re-season, help keep your cast iron cookware naturally nonstick with these tips. Keep in mind that these are guidelines, and always refer to the cleaning and care instructions that came with your cookware.
- Before seasoning, make sure your cast iron cookware is clean.
- Rub the cooking surfaces with a little vegetable oil and place in a 350°F oven for about an hour. Then turn off the heat and let the cookware cool to room temperature in the oven.
- It’s essential to season cast iron with vegetable oil. Never use olive oil, as it can leave behind very sticky residue.
- Always re-season your pan after using any sort of dishwashing liquid on it.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.