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Cast iron skillets are great because they’re easy to season and maintain. They’re also durable and long lasting. But like most things, there are some things you shouldn’t do. If you’ve ever used a cast iron skillet, you know how difficult it is to clean.
You end up scrubbing away stubborn food bits and seasoning buildup for hours. There’s no way around it — cast iron pans aren’t meant to be cleaned easily.
But here’s what you really want to avoid doing. Some people swear by baking soda and vinegar. Others say just hot water. And still others recommend rubbing the pan with a paper towel dipped in oil. All of those methods work, but none of them are perfect.
In this article, you’re going to learn how to clean a cast iron skillet at home.
What is the best way to clean a cast iron skillet after use?
- Use a sponge. “A good old-fashioned sponge is the easiest tool for cleaning cast iron,” says chef Joe Lingeman. “You can wipe down the inside and outside of the pan.”
- Rub the skillet with vegetable oil. This method doesn’t require much effort. Just rub the pan with a paper toweling soaked in vegetable oil. Be sure to use a soft cloth, such as terrycloth, cotton, linen, or microfiber. Never use a rough fabric such as nylon or polyester. These fabrics will scratch the surface of the skillet.
- Scrub the skillet with a scouring pad. A scouring pad is similar to a sponge, except it’s rougher and designed specifically for cleaning cast iron. Make sure to choose a scouring pad that won’t damage the finish on your skillet. Look for pads labeled “cast iron.”
- Fill the pan with warm water and let soak overnight. The next day, rinse the pan under running water. Then pat dry with a kitchen towel.
- Wipe the pan with a damp rag. After rinsing off the skillet, wipe it down with a wet rag. Don’t worry about getting every last bit of grime off. It’ll come right off when you wash the pan again.
- Rinse the skillet with soap and water. Once you’ve wiped the pan down, fill the sink with warm soapy water. Dip a dishcloth into the water and wring it out. Gently wipe the entire surface of the skillet. When you’re done, rinse the pan again with fresh water. Let the pan sit until completely dry before storing it.
- Dry the skillet with a paper towel. Once the skillet has dried thoroughly, wrap it in a kitchen towel and store it in a cool place.
- Season the skillet. To season a new cast iron skillet, mix 1/2 cup kosher salt and 2 cups coarsely ground black pepper together in a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the pan. Allow the seasoned pan to sit uncovered for 24 hours. Repeat this process once more.
How to clean a cast-iron skillet after everyday cooking
Cast iron is one of the most versatile cookware options out there. It’s sturdy, it heats evenly and it can be used for everything from searing steaks to making pancakes. But like any other cookware, cast iron needs some TLC in order to keep its good looks and performance up.
The first thing you should do when cleaning your cast iron pan is to remove all food residue. If you have leftovers, simply put them back in the oven or microwave to reheat. You don’t need to scrub the pan; instead, use a damp dishcloth to wipe away any excess grease.
Next, give the pan a thorough rinse. Cast iron pans tend to get dirty quickly, so make sure to rinse them well.
Afterwards, dry the pan using a clean kitchen towel. Avoid rubbing the pan too hard — you want to avoid scratching the surface.
Now, it’s time to season the pan. Mix 1/2 cup kosher (coarse) salt and 2 cups coarse ground black pepper together in small bowl. Sprinkle seasoning evenly over the entire surface. Leave the pan uncovered for at least 24 hours.
Once the pan has been properly seasoned, you can start using it again. However, if you notice rust forming on the pan, you may need to re-season it. Simply follow the above steps and repeat the process.
How to remove rust from cast iron
Rust is a common problem for cast-iron cookware. It can be removed with the right technique, but it’s important to know how to do so safely and effectively.
Cast iron is one of the most durable materials in existence, but that doesn’t mean you should use it without proper care. Cast iron has a natural tendency to oxidize over time, which causes it to turn rusty brown. This is normal, but it also means that the metal will become harder over time.
If you find yourself dealing with rust issues, here are three ways to remove it:
Scrub the rust off
The easiest way to remove rust is by hand. Use a stiff brush and a paste made of baking soda mixed with water. Rub the paste onto the rust spots and let it sit for several minutes. Then, wash the pan with hot, soapy water.
Remove the rust chemically
Another option is to use an acid solution. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the pan and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Wash the pan as usual.
Clean the pan with steel wool
Steel wool is another effective method for removing rust. Simply rub the steel wool against the rust spots until they disappear. Rinse the pan thoroughly before continuing.
How to maintain cast-iron cookware
- Cast iron is great because it retains heat very well. That makes it perfect for low and slow cooking methods such as braising and stewing. But just like any other cookware material, cast iron requires regular maintenance in order to reastay in top shape. Here are some things you should pay attention to:
- Keep the pan dry. When storing your cast iron, keep it out of direct sunlight and place it in a cool area. Don’t store it near the stove or anywhere else where it might come into contact with moisture.
- Season regularly. As mentioned earlier, cast iron needs to be seasoned regularly. Follow the instructions included with your pan to ensure that it stays shiny and non-sticky.
- Wipe down the pan occasionally. After washing the pan, wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove excess oil. If there’s still grease left on the pan after wiping it down, simply apply more oil.
- Never put aluminum foil directly on the pan. Aluminum reacts with cast iron and could cause damage. Instead, wrap the pan in parchment paper or plastic wrap.
- Store the pan away from heat sources. Heat can affect the quality of your cast iron. So, don’t leave it next to the oven or stovetop.
- Avoid cleaning the pan while it’s hot. You want to avoid scalding yourself when cleaning your cast iron. To clean it, first preheat it on medium heat. Once it reaches temperature, add about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan. Allow the oil to warm up for 5 minutes.
- Next, pour in 1 cup of white vinegar and stir the mixture around. Let the pan sit for 10 minutes. Finally, rinse the pan under running water.
The best way to prevent rust from forming on your cast iron is to season it properly. And if you have any questions about how to take care of your cast iron, feel free to ask us!
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