How Do You Clean Cast Iron Pans?


It’s that time of year again – time for Christmas dinner and clean cast iron pans. You can forget a traditional Christmas letter. Back when any one was in school and another was passed out intoxicated at graduation somewhere, the culinary teachers kept their clean cast iron pans under lock and key just in case any untrained student was stupid enough to use them for making grandma’s favorite jelly. Not today.

No need for fancy cleaning tools or a special utensil spray. Just a few strokes with a steel wool pad and you’re done. I never once had to touch a hot pot full of simmering chicken to make it mild for the oven. I used warm water with my scrub brush and a very small amount of dish washing liquid and my pan was clean as a whistle. If I hadn’t been so careful, I’d have burned my fingers and fried my toes. Happy holidays!

I know my skillet soap won’t completely remove all the mineral deposits on the exterior of my pans, but it can reduce them enough so they are less noticeable. I used only baking soda and a small amount of water with my scrubbing motion. The scrubbing didn’t remove much, but after a few minutes of gentle rubbing I was able to see some silverware and plastic starting to stand out. The copper had been tarnished and there were several mirror-like flakes floating around. I used a cotton ball to remove them as best I could and my beautiful pans were once again beautiful.

Some people believe that re-seasoning cooking or cleaning cast iron pans is a bad thing. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When you buy a piece of cookware and it’s been sitting around for a couple years, it’s likely that it has some sort of build up from all of those preservatives that prevent it from rusting.

So how does one go about cleaning these wonderful pieces of cooking utensils? The answer is very simply, buy a product specifically designed to clean cast iron pans. The first product I would recommend is called All Clad Cleaner. This product is specifically designed to work on re-seasoned pans and it comes in a variety of different sizes and different products so that you can easily clean your pans no matter what size it is.

Once you have your cleaner in tow, you are ready to scrub away that greasy buildup. To do this, I would recommend that you either use your soap or a separate stiff brush to make sure all of the heavier stuff is removed. My skillet was a bit heavy so I used the soap and just scrubbed away. After doing this, I then put the skillet into the toilet to take care of the rest.

If your skillet is heavily rusted, but not totally blackened, then you will still need to do the same things as stated above. First, get all of the blackened areas under the pan removed and any excess soap out. Next, you will need to rub down the pan with a non-stick scrubber that has some cooking oil in it. Make sure to get into all of the nooks and crannies of the cast iron pan to make sure all of the oil is removed. You then want to wipe down the entire pan to be sure you get rid of all of the remaining rust.

When you are done, you will want to take your new scrubber and spray it down with some of that dry paper towels that you have previously prepared. Put your pan back on the stove and wait until it’s ready again. The longer you let it sit, the more rust it will get before you can even begin to clean it. Then simply run your food processor or blender along with some of that salt water into it and start breaking up all of that old salt. It’ll do a great deal for your dishes, but it won’t cost you anything to keep them nice and fresh looking.

Cook & Blog with by Jennie Lloyd. Fighting Irons © Copyright 2022. All rights reserved.