Cleaning a 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.

Cast Iron Pan

October 6, 2016 Flag

I bought The Ringer, a stainless steel chainmail cast iron cleaner a few months ago and so far I love it. I have been using cast iron most of my adult life, but I still don't have a great method of taking care of them, every so often I do something that ruins the seasoning. I used to simply wipe it out with a paper towel, but I found it to be an insufficient method when something was stuck to it. So, for awhile I washed it normally with soap and water and oiled it after but sometimes that would seem to ruin the seasoning.

Something I did that I have now learned was causing some damage to my pans was washing them when they were too hot. If the temperature of your pan and the temperature of the water you are using are too different, it can cause damage to your pan and could even break it.

I have a new method now that I have my new fancy Ringer. I wait until the pan has cooled and then I wash it with very little soap and use the Ringer as you would a sponge. The Ringer quickly removes any cooked on food without scraping or ruining the seasoning of the pan. I then place the pan back on the stove and heat the pan back up again and wipe it down with a thin layer of oil, let cool, then store.

Product Review: The Ringer Cast Iron Cleaner Product Review: The Ringer Cast Iron Cleaner


Cast iron pans are more of a pain to take care of than some other pans, but I absolutely love cooking with them. With good care, the seasoning on the pan will make it as good as any non-stick pan out there but without the fear of chemicals leaching into your food. :)

If you find the Ringer has a sticky feel, soak it in a bowl of warm water and a good amount of dish soap for a 1/2 hour or so. Then rise and let dry. I use a suction cup hook above my sink to hang it so it's easily accessible.

Link: The Ringer Stainless Steel Chainmail Cast Iron Cleaner

Product Review: The Ringer Cast Iron Cleaner
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Anonymous Flag
October 15, 20160 found this helpful

How do u get food debris out of this?

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October 16, 20160 found this helpful

I soak The Ringer in hot soapy water.

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August 6, 2015 Flag
11 found this helpful

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.

September 24, 20150 found this helpful

Thank goodness, a voice of reason!! I have always washed my pans in soapy water & agree it's just not clean otherwise. I don't oil or grease the pan afterward unless for some reason I've had to really scrub with something abrasive such as steel wool. That's when you will lose the pan's seasoning, NOT just from being washed. If and when that happens, which is very rare for me, seasoning again is not that hard.

Thank-you Likekinds!

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September 24, 20150 found this helpful

Amen! I'm not about to NOT wash my pans! I have BOTH of my grandmothers cast iron (app 2 dozen) and not about to put away with just a 'wipe'! *shudders* Yuk! It's very little effort to care for your pans after all I am passing my iron down to my children.

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April 10, 20160 found this helpful

July 22, 2016 Flag
1 found this helpful

Last Sunday I visited the flea market they hold once a month in Punnauia. Normally I don't buy much at the flea market because it seems everyone sells items I don't need or already have. However, this weekend I found 3 very old; extremely dirty Macocotte Dutch ovens for 300 francs or $3.00 USD.

Twelve years ago I purchased a set of 4 Macocotte Dutch ovens. I paid close to 10,000 francs or $100.00 USD. The set of Dutch ovens I bought were light weight and not the original heavy duty Dutch ovens they no longer sell. Fortunately, for me the 3 Dutch ovens I purchased were the original heavy duty ones.

The Dutch ovens were dirty, had burned on food and grease blackened on the sides and bottom of the pans. I knew the value of the Dutch ovens and also knew I could clean them and restore them to new. Here is a simple way to clean and restore cast iron or Macocotte Dutch ovens.

Total Time: 3 to 4 hours

clean pan


  • Ajax powered cleaner
  • flat wood chisel
  • medal scrubbing pad
  • baking soda
  • dish soap


  1. Block the pan in your sink or between two pieces of wood.
  2. Use the wood chisel to start chipping away at the burned on grease and food. Be careful to not dig too deeply because this will leave grooves and gouges on your pan. When using your wood chisel don't hold the pan with one hand. The chisel will slip and could cut your arm or hand. I used both hands when holding my chisel.
  3. Cleaning and Restoring a Macocotte Dutch Oven
  4. After cleaning a small area sprinkle the area with Ajax. Use your medal scrubbing pad to remove the rest of the black grease and food from the pan.
  5. Cleaning and Restoring a Macocotte Dutch Oven
  6. Continue to scrub and clean the pan until you've removed all the blackened grease and food.
  7. Cleaning and Restoring a Macocotte Dutch OvenCleaning and Restoring a Macocotte Dutch Oven
  8. To clean the inside of your pan, use baking soda and a medal scrubbing pad.
  9. Cleaning and Restoring a Macocotte Dutch Oven
  10. Once the pan is cleaned, wash with hot water and dish soap.
  11. Cleaning and Restoring a Macocotte Dutch Oven
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April 12, 2011 Flag
19 found this helpful

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.

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January 26, 2005 Flag
0 found this helpful

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.


January 26, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

Heat the skillet on the stove and sprinkle quite a bit of salt (preferably sea salt) in it and take a paper towel and scrub it, then wash and rinse.

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January 11, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

It probably will go away with the next cooking but who wants a fish smell with steak? I rinsed it out with water, dried on the stove top over heat, added vinegar, salt (lots) and baking soda (lots) to get a foam and let it simmer til dry and cooled. Then rinsed again with water, dried on stove top over heat, then oiled and heated again. I never put soap in my cast iron.

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July 12, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

October 19, 2010 Flag
3 found this helpful

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

By Sandi from St Louis, MO

October 26, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

I have cleaned my burnt on foods from my iron skillet by filling the skillet with water to cover the burnt food, adding several tablespoons baking soda and put on simmer until water is near boiling. Turn off heat, let sit till water cools. I then take my spatula and loosen burnt food. After removing water and burnt food, I wash in hot soapy water and re-season my skillet in the broiler of my stove.

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November 15, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

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October 8, 2010 Flag
0 found this helpful

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. I'd like to clean that all up and start using it on a regular basis.

By Danielle from Raleigh, NC

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October 12, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

The best way to season a cast iron skillet is to apply lard (you can get that in the super-market or Walmart) generously on both surfaces (including handles) and bake them in an oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F, then lower the temperature to 200 degrees F, flip the pan upside down over an aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Repeat this again using lard. If you are seasoning a new pan or gently used pan, do it only once - that should take care of it. But seasoning an old pan (especially that had rust), you have to do it twice. Hope this helps.

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October 12, 20100 found this helpful

Scrub the rust off with steel wool, then season like asamuel suggests, or look in the archives for other methods. I usually just wash mine with a brush under hot running water, but I do use Dawn if I have burnt on stuff, because I wasn't watching when I was using it!! Just re-season with some oil or lard, but no need to do the heating for 2 hours.

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October 13, 20100 found this helpful

November 20, 2011 Flag
0 found this helpful

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

By Frank N.

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November 22, 20110 found this helpful

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.

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October 25, 2011 Flag
0 found this helpful

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

By Sophia

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October 27, 20110 found this helpful

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! :)

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October 8, 2010 Flag
0 found this helpful

I got a cast iron skillet at a yard sale. How do I season it? I put Crisco inside and out and baked it for about 20 minutes.

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May 9, 2010 Flag
0 found this helpful

I received a seasoned Bobby Flay cast iron skillet for Xmas and can't seem to cook anything without it sticking.

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