Don’t be scared of cleaning your skillet! Instructions for cleaning a cast iron skillet often include a lot of don’ts: Don’t use soap, don’t use steel wool, don’t put it in the dishwasher. It’s almost enough to scare a cook off from cast iron completely!
Here’s one do: Do follow these steps and you’ll be able to keep your skillet clean, rust-free, and well-seasoned.
And don’t worry: If, by chance, you take off some of your skillet’s smooth seasoning, you can always re-season the skillet after cleaning. It’s not a big deal and not hard at all.
What You Need
- Cast iron skillet
- Sponge or stiff brush
- Clean, dry cloth or paper towels
- Vegetable oil or shortening
- Kosher salt (optional)
- Stove (optional)
- Get right to it: Clean the skillet immediately after use, while it is still hot or warm. Don’t soak the pan or leave it in the sink because it may rust.
- Add hot water: Wash the skillet by hand using hot water and a sponge or stiff brush. (Use tongs or wear gloves if the water is extra hot!) Avoid using the dishwasher, soap, or steel wool, as these may strip the pan’s seasoning.
- Scrub off stuck-on bits: To remove stuck-on food, scrub the pan with a paste of coarse kosher salt and water. Then rinse or wipe with a paper towel. Stubborn food residue may also be loosened by boiling water in the pan.
- Dry the skillet: Thoroughly towel dry the skillet or dry it on the stove over low heat.
- Oil it: Using a cloth or paper towel, apply a light coat of vegetable oil or melted shortening to the inside of the skillet. Some people also like to oil the outside of the skillet. Buff to remove any excess.
- Put it away: Store the skillet in a dry place.
- Using soap, steel wool, or other abrasives is not the end of the world, but you may need to re-season the skillet. If the skillet is well-seasoned from years of use, a small amount of mild soap may be used without doing much damage — just be sure to rinse it well and oil it after drying.
- Remove rust from cast iron by using steel wool or by rubbing it with half a raw potato and a sprinkle of baking soda (seriously, it works!). Again, it may be necessary to re-season the pan after cleaning.
Original story by Emily Hahn appears on The Kitchn
Photo courtesy of Joe Lingeman