• How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

    How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com

    Today I’m sharing with you the easiest tips for how to clean a cast iron skillet.

    If you follow me on Instagram, you know I love my cast iron cookware. It’s versatile, cleans up easily, and goes from stovetop to oven seamlessly. There’s something magical about the delectably brown, seared crust you can get on a steak from a cast iron skillet. I don’t use it to cook everything, but it’s in regular rotation in my kitchen.

    How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com

    Cast iron isn’t perfect though (for example, it tends to heat very unevenly), and figuring out how to clean a cast iron skillet can make even the most brave kitchen warriors a little uneasy. There’s definitely a list of dos and don’ts, but luckily you’ll master the basics quickly.

    A well-seasoned cast iron skillet will act almost like a non-stick surface. It’s not going to be slippy-slidey like Teflon, but food should stick minimally and the pan should clean up with some warm water and a little scrub from the rough side of a sponge.

    The more you use your cast iron and the more you pay attention to some very basic maintenance, the better it’ll do. If you skillet loses its seasoning because you’ve cleaned it with soap, it’s rusty, or food is just sticking a lot more than usual, it’s probably time to re-season it.

    Lodge, known for its cast iron which is made the in the USA, has instructions for how to re-season cast iron on its site. I like to season my cast iron in the oven using Lodge’s instructions when I first get it home anyway.

    If you’re looking to get started, I really love this 5-piece Lodge set and you can often find it on sale on Amazon, or check your local Target or Ace Hardware.

    How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com

    [Note: Lately when I’ve shared photos of Lodge cast iron, I’ve gotten pushback because the company does use GMO soybean oil to season its skillets in-factory. Here’s how I look at it: Am I stoked they use it? Not terribly. But if I suggest buying from a company that doesn’t use soybean oil but the cookware is made overseas, I am scolded for not supporting Made in USA products. If I suggest Made in USA cookware, I’m scolded because of the soybean oil issue. My solution: If you buy Lodge and the soybean issue bothers you that much or there’s a soy allergy involved, remove the seasoning and re-do it with your oil of choice. Directions for that can be found on The Google. Even if you buy vintage cast iron from an antique or thrift shop, you don’t know what kind of oil was used in it before you, so you may want to re-season. Of course, you could always buy foreign-made if the soybean oil issue is that bothersome, but do you really know what oil was used by those manufacturers anyway? My opinion on it: Buy domestic, season it again when you get it home, and move on with your life. Don’t over-analyze to the point it makes you crazy.]

    But what if you’re just wondering how to clean a cast iron skillet from normal use? Don’t be intimidated! Follow these steps.

    1) Wipe out any excess fat.

    2) Use warm / hot water and a dish brush or the rough side of a sponge to loosen any stuck on bits. Alternatively, you can deglaze your skillet if you’ve used it to cook meat that’s left brown bits (called fond) in the bottom and either use that liquid as the base of a sauce or just toss it out.

    3) If you have really stubborn, stuck on bits, add a bit of kosher salt as a mild abrasive. You can use a mild soap, too, but be sure to follow step 4. If you use harsh soap, abrasives or the dishwasher, you’ll strip the pan of its seasoning.

    How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com

    4) Immediately wipe your pan dry to prevent rusting, and add a small amount of oil to preserve the seasoning. The more saturated the fat—think coconut oil or lard—the less likely it’ll be to oxidize. It’ll be ready to go for the next time you want to use it.

    How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com

    Click below to watch my video about how to clean a cast iron skillet!

    That’s it! Now you know how to clean a cast iron skillet!

    Pin it for later!

    How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com

    Steph Gaudreau is a certified holistic nutrition practitioner, weightlifting and mindset coach, and the author of the best-selling Performance Paleo Cookbook. Her recipes and expert advice have been featured in SELF, Outside Magazine, Elle, and Greatist. Steph loves barbells, cats, and anything Lord of the Rings. She lives in San Diego, CA.

    27 thoughts on “How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

    1. I find the best way to clean my cast iron is this. When done frying and pan is cooled down enough to wipe out grease with a paper towel, add water to pan, bring to a boil, turn off heat, let cool down to handle. Empty and wipe out with paper towel, usually clean enough to wipe with oil and put away.

    2. Thanks for posting this. I asked for a cast iron skillet for Christmas and got a pair of foreign made ones. Not what I wanted, but they work. I especially appreciate knowing that coconut oil is good for seasoning. I’ve been using some palm oil shortening because I have it and won’t be using it again for cooking (it makes really tasteless tortillas!), but now I’ll most likely switch to coconut oil. That just makes sense. Also enjoyed seeing your feline helper in the one pic.

    3. My dad bought some cast iron pans from a thrift store that were pretty thick with crud. He put them in the fire pit in the back yard (right in the fire) and it burned all of the old food and fat built up. It took some time, but they looked like new. Then he re-seasoned them… voila!
      Am thinking this could solve the soybean oil on the USA made pans… and promote relaxing by a fire pit. Win, win!

    4. I love my cast iron, but when I “finish” it with oil, after the cleaning, I get dust stuck to it and must wash again before use. Anyone else have that issue? Any suggestions? THX

      1. After using and wiping the skillet with oil I slip it in a plastic bag from the market. This keeps dust off it and anything else that might come into contact with the surface while it’s being stored ie: if you store other cast iron cookware together. Then just throw out or recycle the bag the next time you use the pan.

    5. my grandmother uses only cast iron pots and pans. I learned from her how to care for them. Instead of wiping them dry after I wash them I put them on the stovetop and turn on the burner, this way all of the moisture is removed by the heat. Then, while it is still hot I put my oil of choice on it and wipe it all over. Grandma uses a cooking spray, I use olive oil. Works great.

    6. i have cast iron that I got from my mother-in -law over 35 yrs ago. Never have I had to re season it. Just like you said, use hot water and salt( or sand) no problem!

      1. You’d have to remove all the rust and reseason in the oven as described on the Lodge site. For really tough cases, I’d maybe check around on Google. I’ve never personally and to do on so I can’t give you an first-hand tips 😉

    7. a friend sent this article to me and just in the nick of time. i seasoned my new cast iron pans over the weekend and my entire apartment filled up with smoke after 25 minutes! there was no way i could get thru the (suggested) hour for seasoning with coconut oil – did i do something wrong?

        1. I melted coconut oil and then wiped it around with a paper towel, removing the excess and then baked it. or tried to bake it haha

            1. The smoke point is a bit lower than refined. Unrefined is about 350F. Refined is about 400F. That’s probably why!

            2. ah hah! i bet thats it. I didn’t even know refined/unrefined were options. I will be sure to pay closer attention to the oil as well as the temp. Thanks so much Steph!

            3. You’re welcome! It’s not really an intuitive thing. Here’s a chart of smoke points to check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_point. I think you’d have luck with refined coconut, lard or even palm (sustainable sources only). They are pretty neutral in flavor. Possibly even avocado. Something like ghee has a very high smoke point. A thin layer probably wouldn’t leave a flavor behind but it’s not as neutral in flavor.

    8. I have had good luck cleaning my cast iron by heating water, then use a brush or wood spatula to scrape it. Works every time. Before using it, I give the pan a wipe down with coconut oils again. It seems to keep things from sticking less and helps build my nonstick easy release finish.

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