How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

If you’re like me, you love your cast iron skillet. But after a while, it can start to look a bit dull and age. Fear not! With a little elbow grease (and some helpful tips), you can have your skillet looking as good as new in no time.

How Strong is a Skillet

A cast iron skillet is a sturdy, versatile piece of cookware that can last for generations. If properly cared for, a cast iron skillet will develop a patina, or natural nonstick surface, that gets better with age. However, if not cared for properly, a cast iron skillet can rust and become unusable. Fortunately, it is easy to clean and season a cast iron skillet so that it will last for many years to come.

What You Will Need to Clean Your Skillet

To get your skillet ready for cooking, you first will need the following supplies:

– A stiff brush
– A mild dish soap
– A sponge
– A soft towel
– Cooking oil

Once you have gathered your supplies, you are ready to begin cleaning your cast iron skillet.

Step 1: Seasoning Your Skillet

If your skillet is new, it will come pre-seasoned from the factory. If it’s an older skillet or one that has been used for other purposes, it will need to be seasoned before use. Seasoning is simply the process of heating oil in a pan until it polymerizes, creating a smooth, nonstick surface.

To season a skillet, place it on the stove over medium heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and spread it around with a paper towel or cloth. Allow the oil to heat until it starts to smoke, then reduce the heat and continue cooking for another few minutes. Remove the skillet from heat and allow it to cool; repeat this process two or three more times.

Once your skillet is seasoned, it’s ready to use!

Step 2: Pre-Washing Your Skillet

If your skillet is particularly dirty or has food stuck to it, you may want to pre-wash it with hot, soapy water before proceeding to the next step. If your skillet is only lightly soiled, you can skip this step.

Step 3: Washing Your Skillet

If your skillet is only lightly soiled, washing with hot water and a stiff brush should be sufficient. If it’s more deeply stained or has caked-on food, you’ll need to resort to soap and scrubbing.

Cast iron aficionados will tell you that using soap on a cast iron skillet is a cardinal sin, but in our opinion, a little soap and elbow grease is fine once in a while. Just avoid using harsh detergents or scouring pads, which can remove the seasoning from your pan.

To wash your skillet with soap:

1. Heat the skillet over low heat for a minute or two. This will help loosen any stuck-on food.
2. Place the skillet in the sink and add hot water and a drop or two of dish soap. (If you’re concerned about stripping the seasoning, you can skip the hot water and just use dish soap.)
3. Use a stiff brush to scrub the entire surface of the pan, including the sides and edges. Be sure to get into all the nooks and crannies where food might be hiding.
4. Rinse the soap off with hot water and dry the pan completely with a clean towel.

Step 4: Drying Your Skillet

Once your skillet is clean and dry, it’s time to season it. Seasoning is what gives a cast iron skillet its nonstick properties and prevents rust. There are a few different ways to season your skillet, but we recommend the following method:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Rub a thin layer of vegetable oil or shortening onto the entire surface of the skillet, inside and out.
3. Place the skillet upside down on the top wire rack in the oven. (For best results, place a foil-lined baking sheet on the lower wire rack to catch any drips.)
4. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let cool completely in the oven before using or storing.

Step 5: Storing Your Skillet

Clean your skillet each time you use it, while it’s still warm. If food has cooked on and is difficult to remove, add some water and bring it to a boil. Let the water boil until the food is released, then use a stiff brush to remove any stubborn bits.

Once your skillet is clean, dry it with a clean towel. Place it back on the stove over low heat to make sure all the water has evaporated. Once the skillet is dry, add a thin layer of oil and rub it all over the surface with a paper towel. This will help to keep the surface from rusting and will also make it easier to season the skillet the next time you use it.

To store your skillet, place a folded paper towel or clean dishcloth in the bottom of the pan and set it on your stovetop or in a cool, dry place.


  • Wipe the skillet with a paper towel to remove any food particles.
  • Fill the skillet with warm water and mild dish soap.
  • Let the water and soap mixture sit for about 5 minutes.
  • Use a sponge or scrub brush to scrub the skillet clean.
  • Rinse the skillet with hot water to remove any soap residue.
  • Dry the skillet completely with a clean dish towel or paper towel.