Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mystery Solved: How To Clean Cast Iron

First:    Happy New Year!

Second, The question as to how to clean cast iron was brought up on a kitchen gadget forum.  This question comes up a lot.

When I read this question I happened to read it just as I was getting ready to clean my Lodge cast iron skillet. I used it to brown and season hamburg for tacos.  

I'd thought it would be a perfect opportunity to share my technique for cleaning cast iron.  This kitchen gadget is too handy not to have just because you're not sure how to care for it.

Cooks are hesitant to get cast iron because they feel they are too much work to maintain. Not true.
For the many, many years I've owned and cooked with cast iron I've never felt it was a bother to go through these few steps.  The reward is to be able to cook with these amazing pots & pans. They also make for a pretty presentation for meals and hot dips.

Here is the sequence I use to cleaning cast iron cookware.
Hope this encourages some of you to get a pan or two to try out.
Below is the Amazon link for the one used in the photos below:

Dirty skillet

Warm, soapy water (I use Dawn). If you prefer not to use soap, just use warm water.

Cleaned skilled, just before getting final rinse.

Rinsed skillet, over heat to dry out all the water.

Add a dab of oil (or you could spray with Pam)

Spread the oil evenly in and around inside of skillet. Let it absorb with the heat still on.

Warm, Clean, dry, oiled skillet

Old schoolhouse desk  & basket is my cast iron storage area.


  1. Are you kidding? Dish soap on your cast iron? Not me. Nylon scrubber and hot water and that's it. Back on the stove to re-coat with oil while hot. That's it, done.

  2. Look at that great collection of cast iron you have!! Love the desk to store them, great idea! Are you a collector of "vintage" cast iron, as well as the still-made-in-the-USA Lodge products?

  3. WaterCruiser, nope, not kidding. It's more like soapy water, not direct dish soap. It's diluted, then rinsed.
    I've done this on my new and my restored vintage collections & they all are in mint condition. The soapy water doesn't stay in for long, just long enough to clean of any food/bacteria that might want to hang around.
    Have you had problems with your cast iron and dish soap?

  4. Valerie C.
    Yes I have some vintage pieces mixed in with some new ones. When I go to yard sales, thrift stores, antique shops I look for sizes and shapes I don't already have. It's a fun and useful hobby.
    P.S. Love your Paint horse avatar/picture. I've owned or have boarded Appys, Arabians, Morgans & a Tenn.Walker.

  5. I cook everything in my cast iron skillets. This morning I used 2 of them
    put sausage in one and biscuits in the other one and put both in the oven. When the sausage was done I got it out and put on top of the stove and cooked fried eggs in it and then made gravy. (this is done about 3-4 times a week)
    yesterday I cooked a roast and potatoes and carrots in it in the oven. tonight will be kielbasa and kraut in one and corn bread in the other (sad thing is, I only own one metal skillet and never use it) it's cast iron all the way at my house.

  6. I clean my skillets just as Cheryl does but I can't get my grill skillet clean after I cooked a marinated steak in it. I have tried the foil and other suggestions. It still isn't clean.

  7. Brenda, I too have a hard time with the grill skillet. What I've done is to add some warm water to the warm skillet, let it simmer a bit, take it off the heat, empty the water and then take a Lodge cast iron scrub brush to it. That usually gets the job done. Then season as usual. (See the link to the brush after the photos above.)

  8. Rachel,
    If you have a favorite corn bread recipe, list it on the "comments" in on my Dec. 31st post where I cook cornbread in the sectioned Lodge Cast Iron skillet.

  9. It's just that most of my cast iron has taken a lot of years of work and caution to get the shiny black smooth surface that you only get by filling the pores of the cast iron for years with a combination of oil, butter and bacon grease. Most dish soaps do not kill bacteria, heat does. Dish soap only enables grease to be more easily transported away from the surface and take bacteria with it. I don't want any grease leaving the surface other than what the hot water takes away.
    Along with that smooth shiny black surface comes no stick properties I would put up against any of the "no stick" pans. The most I ever have to do is simply rub lightly with the nylon scrubber, most everything else washes right off with hot water from the vegetable sprayer.
    I do agree with using Pam when returning to the hot stove as it evenly coats quickly and never seems to go rancid.
    So as long as the surface is heated high enough to kill the bacteria, there is no need in trying to kill it with anti bacterial soaps that also diminish your seasoning.

  10. WaterCruiser, Thank you for your insight and informative post.


Do you have any gadgets you'd like to see used? Do you have any favorites of your own? Post suggestions, ideas, reviews.