Share Crafts

Cleaning a Cast Iron Pan

Cast Iron Pan

The care and cleaning of a cast iron pan is different than that of other types of cookware. This is a guide about cleaning a cast iron pan.


Solutions: Cleaning a Cast Iron Pan

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Thoroughly Cleaning A Cast Iron Fry Pan

You can tell me not to use soap on my cast iron pans til the cows come home. I will use it, anyway. I refuse to put away a pan that has only been scraped and wiped. To me, that borders on 'nasty'. I make country style gravy in my cast iron frying pan. I fry thinly sliced sweet potatoes sprinkled with brown sugar, in that pan, cooking till the sugar is syrupy or caramelized. Imagine just 'wiping' that pan.

If the pan is properly seasoned, hot, soapy water will not affect that season. Almost always, a ruined season is due to overheating an empty pan while preheating it. When preheating a pan, don't allow it to get hot enough to smoke. If you see even the slight smoke, don't just turn down the heat, remove the pan from the heat.

The inside bottom of a well seasoned pan will be smooth and shiny. No scrubbing should be required. The inside walls of the pan will often be rougher. Scrub these with something no more abrasive than a plastic mesh ball or a nylon brush. Soak the pan for a while if need be. Never use steel wool, nylon pads, or powdered cleansers on a pan. When the pan is clean and rinsed, put it on a burner at medium heat. Watch carefully. The instant all water is burned way, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. With a paper towel, apply a thin film of cooking oil to the pan before putting it away.

If you have cooked fish or onions in the pan, you can rest assured the next time you scramble eggs, they will taste of fish or onions, if you only wipe the pan 'clean'. Even soap and hot water will not remove these scents.

Removing lingering scents from a pan is simple. After washing and rinsing the pan, fill with water and place on medium heat burner. Add a tablespoon of baking soda to the water. Simmer two or three minutes and rinse, then back to the burner to dry. I find drying the pan with heat is more thorough, thus preventing any rust, especially on the bottom where it is most likely to appear.

It's like this, I wash my cast iron pans in hot, soapy water after every use; I always have. An egg will slide around in my pan as if the pan was coated with Teflon or T fal.

Where are those cows, anyway? It's time for their evening milking.

    By likekinds [107]

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

    Tip: Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

    Sometimes a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet needs more than just a simple scraping/wiping to get it ready for the next job. In those cases, I used to soak mine in hot water in the sink. Then I wised up and decided to boil water in it on my stove top. I believe the hotter water soaks and cleans the pan better. Just a few minutes at boil followed by brushing with coarse brush should do the job.

    Then I wipe dry, finish the drying on low stove top heat. When totally dry, add a tiny dab of whatever oil you like and continue heating for another few minutes. I use a heavy-duty paper towel to burnish the oil in the pan once or twice before shutting the stove down.

    My favorite skillet then gleams and I can almost see my reflection in it. The bottom is just as smooth as the proverbial 'baby's butt'.

    By tomatohanger from Canton, OH

    Give a "thumbs up" to the solution that worked the best! Do you have a better solution? Click here to share it!


    Here are questions related to Cleaning a Cast Iron Pan.

    Question: Smelly Cast Iron Pot

    When our mother passed away, we cleaned out her home, inside of the oven we found a cast iron pot in which she had fried fish and never got a chance to clean. It is a beautiful cast iron pot which I do not want to throw away but despite my efforts in cleaning, it will not shed the fishy smell. Do any of you thrifty readers know of a way to clean smelly cast iron. It had a top to it and was covered for who knows how long.



    Most Recent Answer

    By john larney [1]07/12/2009

    Vinegar is good but make sure it is apple vinegar and use a 1 to 5 ration of vinegar to water, boil for a while, wipe it dry. Then a little more of the mixture. Use a paper towel to wipe it around and then a clean paper towel to dry it, never soap.

    Question: Cleaning an Iron Skillet

    Can anyone tell me how to clean built up and burned on food from an iron skillet?

    By Sandi from St Louis, MO


    Most Recent Answer

    By sandikay11/15/2011

    If you have a self cleaning oven, leave 1 rack in it and put the iron skillets upside down. Start self cleaning mode. After the oven has cooled down remove skillet and wash and reseason. They will look brand new when done.

    Question: Cleaning a Cast Iron Skillet to Re-season

    What is the best way to clean up an old iron skillet? I know you are supposed to rub oil on them after use. Is it true you do not use soap in them? My grandmother's old iron skillet has a few rusty areas.


    Question: Cleaning Iron Skillets

    How do you clean iron skillets that have not been used in about 3 years and have been sitting in a closet?

    By Sophia

    Most Recent Answer

    By Sharon Stone Gibson [10]10/27/2011

    I have cast iron skillets from my mother and mother-in-law. I love them! They are family treasures. If your cast iron has been sitting for a long time and not being used, treat it like you would a new one. Completely season it again. To season it: 1) Wash with warm soapy not use any abrasive cleanser or cloth, then rinse really well. 2) Dry really well. 3) Rub a good quality vegetable oil all over it. 4) Put it into a preheated oven for at least one hour on 350 degrees. 5) Let cool completely in the oven. Now, your skillet should be good to go! Happy cooking! :)

    Question: Cleaning a Cast Iron Frying Pan

    How can the crust that develops on a cast iron fry pan be removed?

    By Frank N.

    Most Recent Answer

    By Carol Z.11/22/2011

    I have always put my cast iron skillets in my oven when I turn on the self cleaning cycle. They come out wonderfully clean, you just have to wash off the ash with soapy water.


    Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

    Archive: Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

    Don't use dish soap to clean cast iron pans and don't run them through the dishwasher. Fill the dirty pan with water and bring it to a boil, then you should be able to scrub off any debris. Rinse with hot water, let the pan dry and rub a small amount of shortening, lard, cooking spray or cooking oil inside the pan before storing.

    RE: Clean Cast Iron

    I put my cast iron in my self-cleaning oven. After it's finished the cycle I just wipe out the ashes of whatever is caked on and oil well.

    Maintenance is the best form of cleaning. Clean and oil right away. (01/24/2005)


    RE: Clean Cast Iron

    I haven't 'washed' my skillets in years!! After using them I rub them clean with a sprinkle of salt and some elbow grease, rinse in hot water, dry really well and give them a spray of Pam. They are better than any of the "new' non stick pans!! (01/25/2005)

    By terry

    RE: Clean Cast Iron

    RE: Clean Cast Iron


    By tuey

    RE: Clean Cast Iron

    To remove rust from cast-iron pans and woks,rub with the cut side of half a potato DIPPED in concentrated dish detergent. Rinse, then wipe with cooking oil and paper towel. (01/26/2005)

    By SFreer

    RE: Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

    I have two cast iron pans and a round cast iron griddle that fits over a stove burner. I use at least one of them almost daily. Never, never would I use soap or dish detergent to clean them. I put hot water in them and sometimes add a little vinegar then simmer on the stove to loosen anything that might be really stuck on them. Then I rinse well and dry well. A light coating of oil once in a while and they are ready to go. They are the best cooking utencils I own. They sure beat all the non stick pans of today if they are properly seasoned and cared for. I've even baked one dish meals in them. (08/29/2006)

    By Harriet

    RE: Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

    If You buy a new cast Iron Pan Coat with either Lard (what they used it the old days) or if you're a vegetarian like me, use Crisco to coat the pan with, then put cast iron pan into oven and bake it at a low temp (about 200 deg) for a few hours. If the oven smokes, turn it down a bit. This will also help re-coat the pan if you've cleaned it with water to many times. ALWAYS DRY PAN OFF ON TOP OF STOVE then coat with oil, stack between paper towels and Bobs your uncle! If you have a pan that's rusted, simply clean with plain steal wool or use lemon juice to clean rust spots, then re-coat with Crisco and bake as above to recondition the cast iron.

    ---> Cast Iron... NOTHING beats it! (08/29/2006)

    By Cyinda

    RE: Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

    Outdoor gas barbecue grills also work well for seasoning or reseasoning cast iron pans and the smoke stays outside. i've used beef suet, lard or crisco to season mine. Heat up the cast iron skillet in the gas barbecue, shut the lid, turn it off and let it sit for a while. Reheat it if necessary.

    Susan from ThriftyFun (08/29/2006)

    By ThriftyFun

    RE: Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

    I have been using my cast iron pans for about 10 years now. Why shouldn't you use soap? I have been washing them just like the rest of my dishes and then "seasoning" them on top of the stove with a little oil and they are just fine. (08/30/2006)

    By dpcw

    RE: Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

    Re: dcpw I have washed my cast iron skillets with dishwashing detergent for over 40 years and it hasn't hurt them one bit. I'm still using the ones I started out with! I normally wash them as soon as I remove the food to a platter. If there happens to be a spot that needs a little scrubbing (which is rarely) I use a mesh plastic scrubee.... never anything abrasive. I rinse it well, dry it throughly..either with a towel or by setting it on a still hot burner or in a warm oven. After it is completely dry I coat the cooking surface lightly with a layer of lard. It doesn't take much on a paper towel when the pan is still warm. Now if you DON'T keep the surface coated after washing it you CAN get rust. You just need to always coat it after washing exceptions! (08/30/2006)

    By Grandma Margie

    RE: Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

    The best reason I can think of NOT to use dishwashing soap would be because of the fact that it has so many petro-chemicals/chemicals that could possibly soak into the pan and poison you and your family. I have no research or scientific backing but for me personally, I wouldn't risk it. I heard animal fats are better for conditioning (they are more stable fats with stronger bonds). I use a biodegradable, plant based, soap to clean my dishes/pans with. The stuff is (ecover brand) practically edible so it puts my mind to ease. (08/17/2008)

    By gben82

    Archive: Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

    I love using my old-fashioned cast iron cookware, especially my grandmother's Dutch oven for homemade soups on top of our wood stove. I treasure each piece.

    I have found it best to wash only in hot water, and then rub some vegetable shortening on the inside of each one after washing. This keeps them rust-free with that beautiful black sheen. This also makes them quite "non-stick" without a questionable coating, like Teflon.

    By Margaret M. from N. Springfield, VT

    RE: Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

    I have been using cast iron pans now for 30 years. How do I clean them? I put them in the sink and put in a drop or two of dishwashing liquid and run the hottest water in them. I use a plastic scrubber and rinse in really hot water. If the oven is still warm I put them in there upside down or I put them back on the eye of the stove to dry. I have never seasoned them with anything after they dry, they are still going strong and I plan to will them all to my son who loves to cook. (02/10/2009)

    By pkgobble

    Archive: Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

    How can I clean cast iron pots?


    Archive: Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

    I use cast iron pans to help keep our blood iron levels more normal. But sometimes when we forget to season them well things get stuck on the bottom, or even burned. Putting a little water into the hot pan will cause all the charred bits to lift right off. In a few minutes, it can be swished out easily with no scraping or scrubbing.

    By Bailey36 from SW Michigan

    RE: Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

    I would just always be sure to apply some oil after you wash it out. Everytime. (10/17/2009)

    By soapynurse