What’s the best way to clean cast iron skillet without removing that precious layer of seasoning? Well, we’ll share 5 effective solutions on how to keep your skillet clean.
Cast iron skillets are durable and can last a lifetime, provided that they are properly cleaned and maintained. So forget about those unfounded myths and follow these tips to keep your cast iron skillet in top shape.
1. Clean cast iron pan after use with boiling water
This method works best for grill pans with tall sides. You can also use this method if you need to remove a lot of food particles from the pan. To start, set the pan on the stove, then fill it with 2″ to 3″ of water. Food particles will begin to float after a couple of minutes.
Let the pan cool, then dump the residue and water down the sink. Rinse the grill pan with warm water and wipe any excess food particles with a clean paper towel. You can also use this method to clean cast iron wok.
2. Water and soap
Water and soap can be a quick and effective way to clean new cast iron pans or remove rust. But do take note that this method can remove the layer of seasoning you have accumulated from using the pan multiple times. So we recommend using this method only when needed.
To start, pour a small amount of mild dish soap and hot water into the pan. Use a sponge or scrubber to scrub down the pan, then rinse it with warm water. Get a new non-abrasive pad or sponge, scrub the pan again, and then rinse it to remove excess soap residue.
3. Water and salt
Kosher salt works as an abrasive, which rids the pan of any stuck-on particles. After cooking, let the pan cool for a bit, then add a generous amount of kosher salt to the cookware. Pour hot water into the pan, then scrub it with a sponge. Rinse your pan with warm water afterward.
4. Salt only
This method works best for those who want to keep their pan as far away from water as possible. Just sprinkle a generous amount of kosher salt in your pan, then scrub it with a paper towel. You can add more kosher salt as necessary. Wipe the pan with a clean paper towel, then dump the salt and residue in the bin.
If your pan is heavily rusted, you will need a more aggressive cleaning method. Fill your pan with warm soapy water and scrub it using a steel-wool pad. Rinse your pan thoroughly and dry it on the stovetop or oven.
5. Dry and oil the skillet
Dry the pan thoroughly by placing it in a pre-heated oven (350⁰) for 10 minutes. Remove it from your oven and after 5 minutes, add 1/2 teaspoon of flaxseed oil or vegetable oil to the pan. Use a clean paper towel to spread the oil all over the pan, then let it cool completely.
After cleaning and drying the pan, store it in a cool and dry place. Also, don’t stack skillets as prolonged weight and sudden impacts can harm their seasoning. The best spot to store cast iron pans is on the stovetop, so you can use them right away.
Common Myths about Cleaning Cast Iron Skillets
You can’t use soap.
Modern dish soaps are completely safe for cast iron skillets, provided that they don’t contain polishing agents. So if you have strong flavors or residue in the skillet that you can’t remove with water and salt, then just use soap to wash your cookware.
Soap will not remove the skillet’s seasoning, but it can eliminate the oil on the cookware’s surface. That’s why you should use soap only when you need to. If you do, make sure to oil your skillet afterward. That way, the surface of the skillet won’t dry out.
You can’t use water.
Soaking the skillet in warm water for a few minutes is fine, but you should never soak it overnight. You can use a soft dish sponge, cleaning brush, or chain mail scrubber to remove stubborn food particles. After rinsing the skillet, dry it properly with a clean dish towel.
Then, heat it in your oven or on the stovetop to remove any excess moisture. Once your skillet is completely dry, you should apply a thin layer of oil all over the cookware. The oil will create a protective coating and help prevent food from sticking to the skillet.
You can use grapeseed or olive oil if you are using the skillet daily. However, these oils should not be used for more than two days because they smell after a while. You can use heavily saturated fats such as butter, coconut oil, or lard for long-term storage.
Regardless of the fat you use, you just need to apply a thin layer to the skillet. And the more you use your cast iron skillet, the easier it will be to maintain and perform better. But how do you know if your pan is clean?
Some cast-iron owners are worried that a briefly rinsed or scrubbed skillet is not clean. Here’s what you need to remember. Your skillet should be oily. Why? The skillet’s surface during cooking can easily reach 300⁰ or more, which is enough to kill bacteria that you have failed to remove.
Therefore, you won’t get sick from cleaning and maintaining your cast iron skillet in this manner. The thin layer of oil that you have to apply before storing the skill is crucial for preventing rust. It also protects the skillet from water and anything else that may damage the cooking surface.
Regardless of the cleaning method you use, you need to stay diligent and consistent with your after-cooking routine. Cast iron pans get better with time, provided that they are properly maintained. So keep your cast iron skillet clean, and you will be rewarded with delicious meals every time you use it.