The Best Way to Clean Cast Iron Skillet & Pans Cleanzen Infographic


A cast iron skillet has several excellent properties, including an extensive lifespan. Other benefits include the ability to hold heat well, a non-stick surface and a sturdy design. However, there are also a few drawbacks to using a cast iron pan. These include the development of rust on the pan and the potential for the food remnants to stick and build up.


Cleaning a cast iron skillets to remove food remnants and rust is easy to do, but it is also different from cleaning other types of pans. When you know how to clean a cast iron skillet, you can continue enjoying all that your cast iron pan offers for decades.

How to Clean Cast Iron Skillet


The Best Way to Clean Cast Iron Skillet & Pans Cleanzen Image of Cast Iron Pan Placed Inside the Oven


Properly caring for your cast iron cookware protects it from rusting and build-up. It can also promote more flavorful food. While it is easy to clean your cast iron pan, proper steps should be followed to avoid damaging it.


Prep the Supplies


Before you start cleaning your cast iron skillet, pull out the necessary supplies. These include a heavy-duty cast iron scrubber as well as neutral oil, dish soap, coarse kosher salt and paper towels.


A common neutral oil that may be in your pantry is vegetable oil. Examples of a safe scrubber to use on cast iron surfaces are a scrubber or a dish brush with stiff bristles. Do not use a stainless-steel scouring pad or steel wool as these are too abrasive and can strip the pan.


Cool Down


After cooking with the pan, allow it to cool enough so that you can safely handle it. Add a small amount of dish soap and water to the pan, and scrub the pan with your brush or scrubber. Rinse the soapy water from the skillet.


Gentle Scrubbing


Rather than using dish soap, you can use kosher salt as a safe alternative. Kosher salt does not provide the same level of clean as dish soap does, but it preserves the pan’s patina. To use salt, add a thin layer of salt across the surface of the pan.The Best Way to Clean Cast Iron Skillet Pans Cleanzen Image of a Dirty Cast Iron PanUsing a spatula, scrap off the stuck-on food bits. For tough spots, you can add hot water or heat up the salt in the pan while scraping it. When the food particles are gone, you can continue to the next step.


Dry Thoroughly & Re-season if Necessary


Return the cast iron skillet to the stove. Heat the water in the pan until it has evaporated. Then, remove the skillet from the heat. Re-season and dry your skillet using the steps below. Your skillet will then be ready for its next use.


How to Dry and Store a Cast-Iron Skillet


Your cast iron skillet should be completely dry before it is stored back in your kitchen cabinet. After washing, rinsing and re-seasoning the pan, wipe it with a paper towel. Absorb as much of the moisture as possible. Allow the skillet to continue drying on your counter overnight.


How to Re-Season the Pan After Cleaning


The re-seasoning process for a cast iron skillet is a process that binds clean oil to the cooking area. To start the re-seasoning process, heat the pan up as hot as possible.


Not sure what kind of oil should you use to season your cast iron pan? You can use neutral oils like canola oil, flaxseed oil or vegetable oil. To apply the oil to the cast iron pan, use a clean paper towel. The entire surface of the iron skillet should be coated. Remember to use an oven mitt to handle the hot skillet.


The Best Way to Clean Cast Iron Skillet & Pans Cleanzen Image of Cast Iron Pans Stacked Together


To complete the re-seasoning process, use a paper towel to wipe away the excess oil. Do not allow too much oil to remain in the pan as this can create a mess with the next use. Allow the pan to air cool before storing it in the cabinet. Keep in mind that this process may need to be repeated several times if the pan has been completely stripped.


How to Clean a Rusty Cast Iron Skillet


If your cast iron skillet is coated with rust, you may be inclined to think that it needs to be thrown out. However, removing rust from a cast iron pan is an easy process. In fact, you may be able to remove the rust following the previously outlined cleaning steps.


If the rusty part of your cast-iron skillets is not fully removed by cleaning it, you can swap out the brush or scrubber with a stainless-steel chain-mail scrubber or a non-metallic scrubber. After removing rust, you should follow the steps for cleaning, drying and re-seasoning the pan.




Can I wash my cast iron with soap? What is the best solution to clean cast iron?


Yes, your cast iron skillet can easily be cleaned with dish soap and warm water. Any type of mild dish soap will suffice. An alternative to washing the pan with dish soap and water is to use kosher salt. Kosher salt can effectively remove the grime on the pan and protect the patina, but it may not provide the same deep level of clean that dish soap does.


Discover additional care tips for your cast iron by watching the Epicurious video below.



Can I put my cast iron pan in the dishwasher?


A cast iron pan is not dishwasher-safe. Common dishwasher detergents have harsh agents that strip away the protective coating on the pan. It takes a long time for the non-stick surface to build up, so even one pass through the dishwasher can impact the skillet’s performance for months. In addition, using a dishwasher to clean the cast iron skillet makes it more vulnerable to rusting.


Can I soak my cast iron pan in water to soften up burnt-on food before I wash it?


Not at all. Your cast iron pan is more likely to rust if it is left in the water for extended periods of time. You shouldn’t flood your pan as a result. To clean the pan, use the soap and water approach or salt and water along with stovetop heat. After washing the pan with water, it should be dried, seasoned, and washed right away.


Do I still need to season a new skillet even if it says it’s been seasoned?


A pre-seasoned pan is one that has had polymers applied to it by the manufacturer. These polymers protect the cast iron skillet from rusting. You will still need to season it with light layers of oil over time. Well-seasoned cast iron skillets to maintain its appearance and cooking capabilities.


You can learn other tricks and tips through our blog. New posts are added regularly with effective cleaning hacks for surfaces across your home. We also offer deep cleaning services in Boston that can deliver the thorough cleaning your home or apartment needs regularly. Our team is available to answer your questions about our services. We are thrilled to help you keep your home clean throughout the year!


Cleanzen Blog Comment Policy

We welcome revelant and respectful comments. Off-topic comments and spam will be removed.