The Dos and Don'ts of Cleaning a Cast Iron Skillet

Cast iron skillets are a kitchen must-have for any busy parent. 

Not only do they last a lifetime, but they're also great for cooking everything from pancakes to chicken breasts. 

But before you can start cooking your favorite meals, you must first learn how to clean your cast iron skillet. Cast iron skillets can be tricky to clean, but with these tips, you'll be able to get it squeaky clean in no time!

Why Cast Iron Skillets Shouldn't Be Treated Like Other Cookware

Cast iron skillets are unique because they need to be seasoned before use. This means that you can't just wash them with soap and water like you would your other pots and pans. 

If you do, you'll strip away the seasoning that makes your skillet nonstick and rust-resistant.

Besides, soap is not necessary when cleaning a cast iron skillet. If you've cooked something like bacon or sausage, the fat will help season the skillet and make it more nonstick. 

So unless your skillet is absolutely caked in burnt-on food, a little hot water, and a scrub brush should do the trick.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

If your skillet requires a good cleaning, here's what you'll need to do:

1. Use Gentle Dish Soap To Clean Your Skillet

First, fill your sink with hot water and add a squirt of dish soap. Then, let your skillet soak for about 15 minutes to loosen any tough food buildup.

If your skillet still looks dirty after soaking, you can use a scrub brush to remove any stubborn residue. Just be sure to use a gentle brush, so you don't damage the seasoning on your skillet.

2. Don't Put Your Skillet in the Dishwasher

Even if your skillet is labeled "dishwasher safe," it's best to avoid putting it in the dishwasher. The harsh detergents and high temperatures can damage the seasoning on your skillet and make it more likely to rust.

Sometimes, no matter how much you scrub, there are just some areas of your skillet that won't come clean. 

If this happens, don't worry! These dark spots are called "patina," and they're actually a good thing. They help season your skillet and make it more nonstick over time.

3. Dry Your Skillet Immediately After Washing It

Once you've finished washing your skillet, it's essential to dry it immediately. If you leave it wet, it will rust. The best way to dry it is to set it on the stove over low heat until all the water has evaporated.

You can also use a paper towel to dry your skillet, but be sure to use a clean one, so you don't transfer any lint onto the surface of your skillet.

4. Don't Let Your Skillet Sit in Water

Even if you're not planning on using your skillet immediately, it's vital to ensure it's scorched before storing it. The best way to do this is to set it on the stove for a few minutes. This will help to evaporate any residual water lurking in the crevices of your skillet.

5. Season Your Skillet Regularly for the Best Results

If you regularly use your cast iron skillet, it's important to season it every few months. This will help to keep the skillet nonstick and rust-resistant.

To season your skillet, simply rub a thin layer of cooking oil into the skillet's surface. Then, place it in a preheated oven and bake it for about an hour.

You can also season your skillet by cooking bacon or other fatty food. This might sound counterintuitive, but the fat will help coat the skillet and protect it from rust.

6. Don't Use Metal Utensils on Your Skillet

When cooking with a cast iron skillet, it's crucial to use wooden or plastic utensils. Metal utensils can scratch the surface of the skillet and cause it to become damaged.

Even if your skillet is scratched, there's no need to worry. These scratches won't affect the performance of your skillet, and they'll eventually become seasoned with use.


Cleaning a cast iron skillet is easy if you follow these simple tips. Remember, you don't need to use soap unless your skillet is really dirty, and you should always dry it immediately after washing. Seasoning your skillet regularly will also help to keep it in good condition.

Finally, avoid using metal utensils on the surface of your skillet to prevent scratches.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you to get your cast iron skillet clean and keep it in good condition. Happy cooking!

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