If you’ve recently purchased a brand new cast iron skillet, or have been eyeing one but aren’t quite sure what you would do with it or how to take care of it, consider this your one-stop-shop for learning how to take care of one. Cast iron has a naturally non-stick surface, incredible heat retention, and is extremely durable, but it does require a little extra TLC to keep it in top shape. These skillets are also great for using on an induction cooktop!
Before you cook with your cast iron skillet, there are a few “don’ts” to know about cleaning it – don’t use soap, don’t use steel wool, and don’t put it in the dishwasher. These things could take off the pan’s seasoning and could cause it to rust (more about that later). So what should you do? Here’s how to clean a cast iron skillet in 6 easy steps.
How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet
1. Clean the pan just after use, while it is still warm or hot.
Avoid placing the pan into the sink or letting it soak, as this may also cause rust to start to form.
2. Wash the skillet using warm water and a stiff brush or sponge.
You’ll want to use a non-metal brush or the abrasive side of a sponge to remove most food. Don’t use soap, a metal brush, steel wool, or anything else that could scratch the pan or remove its seasoning.
3. If food is stuck to the pan, boil water in it.
You can also try scrubbing with a paste of kosher salt and water, or a combination of both if necessary.
4. Thoroughly towel dry.
Since you’re trying to avoid rust, make sure you towel dry your pan well. You can also put it on the stove over low heat to evaporate any remaining moisture.
5. Once dry, apply a light coat of oil.
Using paper towels, apply half a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the interior of your pan, and the exterior as well if you like. Buff the skillet to remove any excess oil and until it looks dark and smooth, but not oily. Let it cool completely.
6. Store it in a dry place.
Keep your skillet in a dry, easily accessible spot so it’s ready for you the next time you want to use it!
There you go! We hope cleaning your cast iron skillet isn’t too daunting anymore. However, if you’ve been cleaning your pan the wrong way for a while, you might need to do more than this to restore it to where it needs to be.
The great thing about cast iron is that it’s naturally seasoned, which means that when fat or cooking oil reaches its smoke point, the fatty acids oxidize and create a slick coating on the pan. The seasoning gives the pan its non-stick qualities, and the more you cook on it, the better the seasoning will become.
However, if you don’t clean the pan correctly, you could strip it of the seasoning, and you’ll need to re-season your skillet. You can tell this is necessary if your pan looks blotchy or dull. Follow the steps below to find out how to re-season!
How to Re-Season a Cast Iron Skillet
1. Heat oven to 500 degrees (or as hot as it will get).
Turn on your oven and preheat it to a max of 500 degrees.
2. Coat the surface of the pan in oil.
Using paper towels, rub every surface of the skillet (interior and exterior) with vegetable oil. Wipe out any excess oil with paper towels until the surface looks dark and smooth.
3. Place the pan into the oven for one hour.
As the skillet becomes hot, this will complete the oxidation process of the oil to coat your pan in a new seasoning.
4. Use hot pads to remove your pan and let it cool completely.
Once cool, your skillet has a new layer of seasoning and will be ready for normal use!
Now go grab your skillet and make some yummy food! If you want to get more out of your other kitchen items and appliances, check out our posts on better dishwasher performance and cooking with convection!