How to clean cast iron skillet step by step

how to clean cast iron skillet

The use of cast iron has been so everyday both in professionals and home cooks kitchen. And cast-iron skillet is the latest essential addition to their kitchen. As nowadays, cast iron skillets have gained much popularity due to its heat retention, naturally non-stick surface, unbeatable durability, and value. Its heavy-duty material is not only durable but also acts as a great kitchen tool in comparison to any other common cooking materials. For the cooking purpose, it has shown its exceptional utility. But the thing is that most people are unaware of how to clean cast iron skillet. As a well-seasoned cast-iron pan will rust if it is exposed to ample moisture and air.  So, here in this article, we have included the proper process to know how to clean cast iron skillets with some tips and tricks.

How to clean cast iron skillet?

Cast iron is durable and quickly restored if it is adequately cleaned. But many of us don’t know how to clean cast iron skillet properly. We tend in such a way that causes permanent damage to the skillets. We usually like to use a dishwasher for cleaning cast iron skillet. But here we have tried to cover all the possible ways to clean cast iron skillets properly. These are as follows-

Gentle cleaning:

To know how to clean cast iron skillet after cooking, it’s better to clean just after every use at first use a paper towel to wipe out the excess food or oil from the pan. Now put into under hot running water. If a hot running water facility is not available at your home, then you can pour 3-4 glass of hot water one after another.

Don’t pour all the glasses together. Just after pouring one glass of hot water, then move around a little bit so that the oily substances get dissolved in water. Now rinse with water. It will help to remove oily substances from the pan without putting much effort.

Use of mild soap:

Mild soapy water is the first solution to know how to clean cast iron skillet after useAvoid the harsh type of soap because that can remove the seasoning components. For that, at first use a mild detergent and warm water so that it dries quickly. As a rough scrubber is not recommended to use but if you have removed the seasoning, then you have to use an abrasive sponge to clean away any remaining residue. But don’t directly put your pan in the dishwasher. You can use a green scrub or steel wool or soft bristle containing scrubber. Now dry it immediately with a towel so that can’t rust again.

Use of vinegar:

vinegar is a useful component to dissolve the rust. If your pan has a stubborn stain and a layer of rust, then the use of vinegar is so beneficial. For heavy rusted or busted pan, typically kitchen experts suggest using vinegar. Mix regular white vinegar with water as an equal amount and submerge the pan in it.

For proper submerging use, a bucket or plug sink is a suitable choice, so that entire skillets are covered with vinegar mixture. Now keep it for 7-8 hours. It’s better to check once within this time. When you will found the rust has gone away, then take the pan from the vinegar mixture as soon as possible. Now clean with regular detergent and properly rinse with water.

Use of baking soda:

Baking soda is also helpful to clean cast iron. To know how to clean cast iron skillet with baking soda, at first place the pan upside down in a sink and sprinkle a small amount of baking soda. Use a little amount of water. Now add a short amount of dishwashing liquid with a mild scrubber to remove rust and other particles. Rinse it properly with water and dry it with a paper towel. After that, bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for one hour. By his process, your cast iron skillet will be cleaned, seasoned, and ready for use. 

Use of salt: 

Salt is also an essential component to clean cast iron skillet. To know how to clean cast iron skillet with salt, you have to use 1 cup of raw salt into a warm skillet. Use a soft bristle containing brush to scrub. After salt removal, wash the skillet with hot water. Use a kitchen towel to soak extra water.

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By seasoning:

When fat or food oil is heated and form smoke in cast iron, then its fatty acids dissolve and rearrange or polymerized. It includes a new plastic with a layer of molecules. This layer becomes stuck within the rough surface of the pan and links to the metal itself. It creates a smooth coating that is known as seasoning.

Repeated exposure to smoking hot oil continues to build on the coating, making it more slippery and durable. For proper seasoning, it’s better to use flaxseed oil rather than vegetable oil. The more polyunsaturated fat will be used, it will oxidize and polymerize more rapidly. Some cheap forms of oil, such as sunflower oil, soybean oil, can be also used.

Oiling after each cleaning:

Dry cast iron skillet properly by putting it in low heat. It will help to remove all the traces of moisture from the pan. To lightly coat the interior surface with oil, put ½ teaspoon of oil and use a paper towel to wipe out the body. Now place it on the oven for 1 hour. Now cool the pan completely. This will help to give a shiny look of your cast iron skillet, and for further use, it will provide the non-stick feature. This process has to do until it provides a dark and smooth finishing.

How to repair a cast iron skillets properly:

Your kitchen’s favorite cast iron skillets will remain in good condition when you use it properly by the proper cleaning process. But if any scratches or damage occur, then you have to go through an appropriate process of repair.  The repair process of skillets cast iron can be done by following ways-

Re-seasoning process:

If you have already removed the non-stick pattern of your pan, then re-seasoning is the best solution that you can adopt. There is a various method of reasoning. You can do it by the oven or by your stove.

Reasoning by stovetop:  This repair is done by heating skillet over medium-high heat at first. Now, use a kitchen towel dipped in 2 tablespoon oil and wiped the surface until the oil smokes. Wipe in such a way so that no oil residue remains. Repeat this process for 3-5 times. After oil smoking, now turn the flame off and take out the pan from the stove. 

Re-seasoning by an oven:

It is done by preheating the oven at 350° and set a large piece of aluminum foil on the bottom rack. Now put a small amount of flaxseed or natural oil all over the entire pan. Now place the pan upside down over the foil to catch any leaks. Let it bake in the oven for an hour and then cool it down at least 45 minutes before using. Before every use, wipe it with another layer of oil. This will gradually build up protective layers of seasoning. Thus a better cooking surface will be formed against rust.

By stripping a cast iron pan:

You can improve your cast-iron skillet by stripping the surface. After striping a cast iron skillet then you have to follow the oven repair directions. You have to repeat the process six times until the skillet has a dark smooth finishing. For this process, place a block on the ground and cover it with a heavy-duty kitchen trash bag. It will help to easily grip and pull up the skillet. Now place the cast iron skillet down on the top of the block.

Spray an oven cleaner over the skillet. Now flip over and spray inside of the skillet. Now pull the plastic bag and tie it so that from outside no moisture can enter inside. Leave it as wrapped for 24 hours. After 24 hours, wearing rubber gloves, remove the plastic bags. Brush the skillet with scrubbing steel wool to remove all residue. Now combine 2 cups of vinegar with 2 cups of water and fill the skillet with vinegar solution and let it soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

After this time, remove the vinegar solution and rinse the skillet properly. After proper washing with normal water, use a paper towel to dry it properly. Just after drying use 1-2 tsp. of oil and rub over the entire surface. Now heat oven to 350 degrees and place the skillet on the stove for 1 hour. You can also use a gas stove for this, but it’s better to close the free surface with a proper lid.  

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How to care cast iron skillet:

Proper storage: The adequate storage for your cast iron skillet is also a vital issue to know how to clean cast iron skillet rust properly. Keep you cast iron skillet in a cool and dry location with low humidity. Choose a mass dry cabinet to store your cast iron skillet. Store your skillet after it is completely dried. If any excess moisture is present then it can slowly cause rust. Again, to keep pans on top of another, line each other with a few layers of paper towel. This will help to absorb excess moisture and let them dry properly. 

Hanging up: You can also hang up the cast iron skillets or pans on the wall. Just be sure that the hooks are securely mounted to walls. In this way, your skillet will get free airflow that also prevents rust.  

Place paper towel: It’s also an important thing to do. As after cleaning your skillets, there can remain moisture that can’t be wiped out properly for that the best solution is to place a paper towel between two cast iron skillet pans.

Daily check-up: To prevent the rust, it better to daily checking up your skillet. A good test is to know your skillet is in bad or good condition is to check the shiny feature. If it reflects natural sunlight or metal looks bluish silver by reflecting a natural light with the silvery shin then re-seasoning has to do. And if your skillet gives a dull matte look then don’t worry it is in good condition.  

Tips while cleaning cast iron skillet:

  • Avoid using copper rubbing pads.
  • Use a non-metallic scrubber to remove the rust.
  • For re-seasoning, coat the interior and exterior with a high smoke point oil.
  • While stripping, work outdoor by putting gloves, and avoid spraying near your face or skin. 
  • Don’t keep your pan on the vinegar mixture for so long. It will affect the original cast surface of the pan.

As now you know how to clean cast iron skillet so it will be easy for you to clean and of any damage you found then it can be by the process of re-seasoning or stripping. But thing is that it’s also an excellent option to buy your cast iron skillets with durable material. So that while using wooden, metal tongs or a spatula it will not put any scratches on the pan. Choose one that will be easy to clean and handy to use for your daily cooking or if it is rusted then it will be easy for reasoning.



  • How often I have to season my pan?


If you use your pan regularly then seasoning not have to do ever. But if you occasionally use your cast iron skillets, then reasoning has to do once or twice a year. 


  • What is cast iron skillet rust?


If you put your cast iron skillet in a humid place where it gets moisture then the iron molecules react with oxygen molecules and through a chemical reaction, it forms an iron oxide that is called cast iron rust. It weakens the atomic bonds in cast iron and eventually damages the entire seasoning of cast iron skillet. 


  • How to proper seasoning have done?


In general, a well-seasoned skillet seasoning will have dark, semi-glossy finishing and it won’t be sticky or greasy when you will touch it. It won’t have any rust, dull or dry patches.


  • How to clean cast iron skillet in the oven?


For that, at first heat the oven at 350° F.  Use 1 or 2 tsp oil over the surface with a clean paper towel. Now place the skillets in the oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove skillets from the oven and let it cool for further use.

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