Cast Iron Cleaning Tips

How Do I Clean Cast Iron?

A lot of folks are intimidated at the thought of cleaning a cast iron skillet. There’s so much information out there about what soap to use or not use, whether or not to use a sponge, etc. This video breaks down all the best practices for cleaning cast iron. For other questions about cast iron care, we have a Cast Iron playlist at our YouTube channel that covers everything from seasoning to restoring rusty and damaged cast iron.

The Smithey Cast Iron Skillet

Tips and Tricks to Properly Clean Cast Iron

  • If you have a new skillet, use a soft sponge and hot water. Scrub all over, then heat on stovetop until all the water is dry. Then, season as usual.
  • Clean immediately when you get through cooking.
  • Dish soaps are gentler these days, not like lye that grandma used. It won’t hurt the cast iron to use a little Dawn dish detergent and hot water and a soft sponge.
  • Always start with the skillet being hot and the water being hot. Hot water on cold cast iron or vice versa can cause cracks.
  • Use wood or soft sponge to remove tough food and rinse well.
  • Coarse salt can be used as an abrasive that will remove food but not hurt the seasoning.
  • Slice a potato in half and use that to scrub the coarse salt around on the skillet. Rinse and heat to dry.
  • Chainmail cleaners are mostly safe but can scrub off seasoning if you use it too hard. I’d rather you use wood or soft sponge than metal of any kind. If you do use chainmail scrubbers, only do so on a well-seasoned piece of cast iron.
  • A soft bristle brush will work to remove stubborn food if wood/hot water don’t work.
  • If you do not clean the cast iron right away, re-heat the skillet until the food begins to bubble. Clean it hot.
  • Don’t boil water in cast iron – some seasoning will come loose.
  • If cooking over a fire, rub Vegetable Oil into the outside of the Dutch oven so you can easily clean with hot water after cooking.