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'.
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Here are questions related to Cleaning a Cast Iron Pan.
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 water....do 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! :)
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.
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.
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)
RE: Clean Cast Iron
I NEVER USE SOAP IN MY IRON SKILLET. JUST HOT WATER... AND DRY IN THE OVEN OR ON STOVE TOP. I RUB THE SKILLET DOWN WITH A LITTLE OIL EVERY OTHER TIME THAT I USE IT. TUEY (01/25/2005)
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)
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.
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.
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)
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 it.....no 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)
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)
My techniques is to hand wash (using very little or no soap) and rinse, I then dry the pan on top of the stove on a warm burner and lastly I always finish off by coating the pan with cooking oil then wiping the oil around with a paper towel while the pan is hot. Lastly, I'll stack my oiled pans on top of each other in the cupboard with a paper towel placed between them. Most people will say to not use dishwashing soap and to just wipe the pan out when you're done. But you can't always do this and sometimes you need to actually wash them with a little soap. Always dry the pan thoroughly and wipe it with a little oil to help avoid rust.
Don't use your cast iron pans to cook things like spaghetti sauce in without coating them with oil after washing! Sauces (especially spaghetti sauce) will remove the baked on "seasoning". and the seasoning can sometimes take many, many uses (or years) to acquire. You can also bake your pan with Crisco smeared over the whole pan then place the pan in your oven at a low temperature (like 150 - 200 degrees) for an hour or more then turn off the oven and leave the pan in the hot oven until it cools to absorb the Crisco. This baking technique can help season or re-season your pans.
* Cast iron also puts a little iron into your food! You can't get a better pan for most cooking! (05/11/2009)
I agree totally with Cyinda. That's just what I do with mine. My stepson will not allow detergent of any kind in his so I feel they're never really clean but his kids are healthy so who's to say! I DO wash mine and always will. (05/11/2009)
I collect cast iron skillets. It is my favorite choice. To remove years of baked on crud: leave it in your self cleaning oven next time you run it. This will bake off all the years of accumulation. It will look rusted, grey...as all the seasoning is gone. Wash it in soapy water, wipe dry with paper towels. Using a strip of bacon, rub the inside with the bacon fat until it is well oiled. Place it in the oven, lowest temp for at least 6 hours. This should reseason it for you. I wash mine in soapy water after each use, just quickly and wipe with paper towels and store upside down. (05/12/2009)
I have read that you should never use dish soap. Here are the tools I use. Always clean it when it is HOT. Most everything comes right off. Use Hot water. If something is really stuck on I use kosher salt to scrub. Sprinkle on the kosher salt (large crystals and use a half a lemon like a sponge. Make sure to dry throughly and then oil. This will help keep your cast iron well seasoned. (05/13/2009)
I have for a while cleaned mine with a mild liquid hand soap, fast and rinse. Then I put in on a burner upside down and heat it till it's completely dry. I use mine for really searing meat and the stuff gets burned on. While I am doing dishes, I put some water in it and heat the water on the stove till it is almost boiling, let it sit till I am done with everything else, then dump and wash like I said. This works really great and I love these pans. (05/13/2009)