How to Clean a Cast-Iron Skillet

Season a cast-iron skillet and keep it clean and rust-free for years of non-stick cooking.

By: Ryan Reed

When it comes to cookware, cast-iron skillets reign supreme in the kitchen. Your grandmother probably used one when you were growing up and for good reason. You can cook pretty much anything with cast iron, and it’s so durable that it actually gets better with age. How many things in your kitchen can you say that about?

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Like any kind of cookware, though, cast-iron skillets require some maintenance. Knowing how to clean a cast-iron skillet without removing the layer of seasoning that builds up over time is crucial. The seasoning is what keeps food from sticking to the surface. Whether you bought a new, pre-seasoned skillet or own a vintage model, follow these simple tips for cleaning cast iron to make sure your skillet lasts for generations to come.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

Cast-Iron Skillet

With the proper care, a cast-iron skillet will last for generations.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/Rixipix

©iStockphoto.com/Rixipix

With the proper care, a cast-iron skillet will last for generations.

Steps to Cleaning a Cast-Iron Skillet

  1. Remove Leftover Food After you’re finished cooking and the pan is still warm, remove food residue with hot water, soap and a sponge. Avoid abrasive sponges that can scratch the seasoned surface, and never let it soak in water.

    Note: Despite what some say, using soap to clean your cast-iron cookware is completely fine.

  2. Dry Thoroughly Moisture is cast iron’s enemy, and you shouldn’t store your pan until it's completely dry. After you've cleaned the skillet with soap and water, rinse it off and dry with a towel. Then, place the skillet on a burner and let it heat up for a few minutes.

  3. Re-Season the Skillet Take a towel dipped in cooking oil and rub the inside surface until it’s completely covered. Heat for a few more minutes, then take the skillet off the burner and allow it to cool.

    Note: If you start to notice rust on your pan, use salt and half a potato to remove. Trust me.

Cast-Iron Skillet Care

Again, you want to avoid the potential for moisture, so store your cast-iron cookware in a dry place in your kitchen. Cast iron is durable, so don’t worry about stacking multiple pans. If your cookware is seasoned well, it shouldn’t get damaged by nesting multiple skillets inside one another.

Hopefully, your skillet won’t be stored away for too long, because the best way to maintain it is to use it often. The more you cook with it, the better seasoned your cookware becomes (and your food will look and taste better than ever).

Watch: More Cleaning and Seasoning Tips

Cast-Iron Skillet Cleaning Tips 01:02

Follow these quick tips to ensure your cast iron pan will last forever.

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