We all love our cast iron skillets. Well, at least the idea of them. However, if you haven’t grown up using cast iron pans, they can be a bit intimidating.
Learning how to season cast iron, then how to cook with them, and even how to clean a cast iron skillet can, well, seem a bit overwhelming.
Stay the course. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll reach for cast iron every time.
I have found that the more seasoned my pans become, the more non-stick they are and the easier they are to clean. Just another benefit of using your pans regularly!
Cleaning a Cast Iron Pan
I have found that what I cook in my cast iron skillet determines how I clean it.
For example, I will adjust my cleaning methods if I have just sautéd steak or fried a hamburger. Foods that leave behind grease, I treat a little different.
However, if I just scrambled eggs, made made an omelet, or whipped up gravy I can streamline the process.
Equipment You Will Need:
- nylon pan scraper
- dish cloth
- non-scratch scrub sponge
- avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
- paper towels (optional)
- stove (optional)
How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet After Cooking Non-Greasy Foods
1. Let the skillet cool: Once you have finished your omelet or other non-greasy dish, give your skillet time to cool. This will allow the remaining food particles to dry, making them easier to remove.
So go ahead, sit down, and enjoy your meal.
When you are done, if your pan is cool enough to touch, you are ready to get started.
2. Scrap off left behind food: Using a nylon pan scraper, scrap the sides and bottoms of the pan. Because the food particles are dry, the food will scrap right off.
It might take a little effort in the corners of the skillet, but keep scraping until all visible food particles are removed.
This is the one I couldn’t live without. Can you say life changer! Okay, that’s a bit much. But really, you will not know how you ever lived without it.
3. Wipe with a damp cloth: Next, take a damp, not wet, cloth and wipe your skillet down. This will remove any food particles too small for the scraper to get.
4. Oil your skillet: Pour a few drops of oil into the pan. Using a cloth or paper towel, wipe the oil over the entire inside of the skillet.
I like to use either a high quality extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil as both have high smoke points.
Also, every second or third time, I will oil the outside of the skillet. Be sure to keep it light and remove any excess. This will help keep your pan from rusting while giving it a beautiful shine.
5. Put it away: I hang all my skillets for easy access and to keep them from scratching each other. Regardless, be sure to store your skillet in a dry place.
How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet After Cooking Greasy Foods
1. Clean it while its warm: For greasy foods, I have found it easier to clean the skillet while the pan is still warm.
2. Drain grease: Start by draining any leftover grease from the pan as well as any loose food particles left behind.
3. Scrap off left behind food: Using your scraper, remove all stuck on food particles. I love my nylon pan scraper. It is easy to use and it keeps my sponge from getting all yucky!
4. Scrub stuck on food: If your pan is really dirty, using your pan scraper may not be enough.
For stubborn stuck on food, add a little warm water to your pan, and over the sink, scrub your pan with a wet non-scratch scrub sponge. (I use these.) Once all the food is removed, rinse your pan.
Be sure not to use dish soap or steel wool as these can remove your pan’s seasoning.
5. Dry the skillet: Next you want to thoroughly dry your skillet. I typically just put it back on the warm burner I used for 10 minutes.
If you are using a gas stove, you may need turn the burner on low.
6. Oil your skillet: Pour a few drops of oil into the pan. Using a cloth or paper towel, wipe the oil over the entire inside of the skillet.
I oil my pans with either a high quality extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil. Both have high smoke points and will not break down and oxidize when heating over high heats.
7. Put it away: As I mentioned, I hang all my skillets. Just be sure to store your skillet in a dry place.
That’s it! Learning how to clean a cast iron skillet is easy. And don’t worry, once you do it a few times, it will come naturally.
Additional Tips & Pointers
It is important not to use soap or steel wool to clean your pans. Both of these can remove the seasoning you’ve worked so hard to create. It is not the end of the world if you do, you will just need to re-season your skillet.
Many people suggest using a paste made from salt and water. I do not recommend this as salt oxidizes iron. Between the pan scraper and non-scratch scrub sponge (both mentioned above), I have yet to encounter a pan I couldn’t clean.
For really stubborn stuck on food, fill your pan 3/4 full with water. Heat the water over low heat until steaming. Drain and begin scraping.
Getting your pan dry in between uses is a must to prevent rust. To insure it is dry, leave it on a warm burner or in a warm stove for 10-20 minutes before putting it away.
The easiest way to remove rust, should your pan rust, is to use steel wool. Scrub areas until all rust is removed. You will need to re-season your pan when done.
I’ve also heard you can remove rust by sprinkling baking soda over the pan and scrubbing with the cut end of a raw potato. I personally have never done this, but it might be worth a try! Once the rust is completely removed, be sure to re-season your pan.
How do you clean your cast iron skillets? Drop me a comment below on your best tips for cleaning cast iron.
Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
- Pantry Essentials: Ingredients For a Well Stocked Homestead Kitchen
- Homemade Natural Cleaning Products – DIY Recipes