How do I clean my cast iron skillet?

I have a cast iron skillet with grill bumps and a cast iron press to go with it [for paninis]. I use it all the time but I have no idea how to clean it properly. I am always left with residue and melted cheese all over it. Is there something I need to buy?

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12 Responses to “How do I clean my cast iron skillet?”

  1. Cait M said:

    Just soap and hot water….no dishwasher!! all you have to do is wipe it out with some soapy water….get the crud off….but its going to stay kinda greasy feeling…but thats ok…thats kinda the point of having one….its like a never-ending non stick skillet….

  2. minoloblaniks said:

    How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet
    Getting Burnt-On Food Off
    If you have burnt-on food on your cast iron cookware, here are some ways to clean it.
    My aunt told me about these two ways:
    (1) The best thing to do is to burn the skillet. If you have a fireplace (or furnace), let the coals die down and then place the skillet in the coals. It may flame up–but that’s okay. Let it burn off the grease and the food. (be sure to move the skillet around in the fire so it doesn’t crack). If you don’t have a poker or tool to get it out, wait until the fire dies down and the coals are cool to remove it. Then wash all the ashes off and re-season the pan .

    (2) If you don’t have a fire, the second way to do it would be to get a pan bigger than your skillet and boil the skillet in the pan on the stove. This doesn’t work as well–it might get the food off but it won’t clean the skillet (black specks) entirely. Either way you do it, you’ll have to re-season the skillet .

    When my skillet needs it, I stick it in the self-cleaning oven when that needs to be cleaned, too. You get two birds with one stone this way; hovever, I try to never let my skillets get really, really dirty.

    After seasoning the skillet the first time, and after using the skillet, I use coarse salt such as Kosher salt, and scrub it around in the skillet with a paper towel. Dump the salt and rinse the skillet in cold water. Wipe dry with a paper towel (if you still get a brown stain on the paper towel, dump more salt in and repeat the process), and then wipe a thin film of olive oil in the pan. Stick the pan in a plastic bag until ready to be used.
    ————————–

    How To Season A Cast Iron Skillet
    Here’s How:
    Wash skillet in hot, soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely.
    Apply a thin coating of melted shortening (Crisco, for example) or vegetable oil with a solf cloth or paper towel.
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place skillet UPSIDE DOWN on top oven rack.
    Place foil on a cookie sheet and place on bottom rack of oven. This will catch the drippings from the skillet.
    Bake in oven for one hour.
    Turn oven off. DO NOT OPEN. Allow skillet to cool down in oven (several hours). There may be a film on your cookware, this comes off after use. You will have to use it a couple times as a test.
    If your skillet has burnt-on food on it, here’s how to get the burnt food and black specks off.
    Tips:
    Clean skillet after use while still warm with hot water and a plastic scrub brush.
    DO NOT put in dishwasher or wash with soap or dishwashing detergent.
    Dry cast iron cookware thoroughly after washing, then spray lightly with vegetable oil (Pam, etc.) Wipe dry and store. Never store cookware with lid on; cast iron cookware needs air circulation.
    Reseason cookware after cooking beans or acidic foods (such as tomatoes). Frying or cooking foods with fat content helps expedite the seasoning process.
    Do not use cast iron cookware for storage of food.

  3. john said:

    put a cast iron pan on heat with cooking oil and kosher salt ,take rag and work the salt in , you will season the pan as well as clean it don’t use water. it will rust.

  4. Bingalee said:

    I always wash in the normal way, then turn it upside down over a hotplate which I leave on for say 2 mins. When cool, rub cooking oil onto cooking surface. This prevents rust.

  5. Tom K said:

    You have to season it and clean it properly.

    Here is how you season it:

    1) Pre-heat the oven to 250 F -300 F. Coat the cast iron skillet with lard or bacon fat (vegetable or olive oil will cause it to become sticky). Place in the oven for 15 min.

    2) Pour any excess fat from the pan. Bake two hours longer. Wipe clean with paper towels.

    Cleaning Cast Iron Cookware:

    1) Never use soap. Use hot water and a kitchen towel or a scrub brush. Heating the pan slightly will allow for easier cleaning. Dry by hand.

    Never store your cast iron skillet with the lid in place. Never store food in your cast iron cookware. Never use tomato based foods. This will react with the cast iron. Season when necessary.

  6. betty c said:

    (1) The best thing to do is to burn the skillet. If you have a fireplace (or furnace), let the coals die down and then place the skillet in the coals. It may flame up–but that’s okay. Let it burn off the grease and the food. (be sure to move the skillet around in the fire so it doesn’t crack). If you don’t have a poker or tool to get it out, wait until the fire dies down and the coals are cool to remove it. Then wash all the ashes off and re-season the pan .

    (2) If you don’t have a fire, the second way to do it would be to get a pan bigger than your skillet and boil the skillet in the pan on the stove. This doesn’t work as well–it might get the food off but it won’t clean the skillet (black specks) entirely. Either way you do it, you’ll have to re-season the skillet

  7. mprugrad said:

    I assume this is a new cast iron skillet and has not yet been “conditioned”…the more you use it the better conditioned it becomes. It essentially will become non-stick over time

    The best thing to do it to clean it throughly, no melted cheese and such. You can clean the cast iron with steel wool or Brillo pad if necessary. At any rate, after you wash it, dry it immediately with paper towels or something lint free. Rub in some vegetable oil just until the pan is shiny, not deep standing oil. Put it in a 450 degree preheated oven for just like 5 minutes or so. This will cause the metal to become a bit more expanded and the oils to be able to penetrate a bit more. As soon as it has cooled just enough for you to be able to touch it (as warm as it can be and still be safe for you to touch), rub the oil again all over the surface with a paper towel. This is your initial conditioning. Thereafter, you do not have to do the heated oil thing, but instead, EACH time after you wash it, immediately dry it with something lint free and rub on a very light coat of oil, again just until shiny. This will keep it from rusting.

    Anyway, this must be the fool proof way to do it. I personally have my great grandmother’s skillet and it is in tip top shape.

  8. Shauna S said:

    Ok, you need to clean the skillet, then let’s start all over. Since it’s messed up, just clean it however you can. Now you need to season it propery so nothing will stick. A cast iron skillet should look shiny when it is seasoned.

    To season:
    Coat entire inside and sides of skillet with shortening or veggie oil. Put in 30 degree oven for 2 hours. Let it cool. Repeat process again. After the second time let the skillet sit overnight. The next day if it’s not shiny, then repeat the process again.

    Once it is seasoned DO NOT put water on it. Simply wipe clean after it has cooled a bit (but is still warm) with a soft cloth. That’s it. No soap, no water.

  9. Seth M said:

    —Seasoning the pan —-Heat the oven to 250-300F. Coat the pan with lard or bacon grease. DONOT use a liquid vegetable oil because it will leave a sticky surface and the pan will not be properly seasoned. Put the pan in the oven for 15 min. Remove and discard the excess grease and return the pan to the oven for an additional two hours.
    —Cleaning the pans—- allow to cool and use warm water and a scouring pad only. The hotter the water the better this allows the pours of the pan to open for better cleaning. After washing immediatley dry to prevent rusting.

  10. poohbearlovesheavymetal said:

    Wash with soap and water. Dry well; I like to put mine on the stove on medium heat until dry. Then rub a little vegetable oil into the pan with a papertowel.

  11. Doc Hudson said:

    minoloblaniks, Tom K, betty c, Shauna and Seth have given you good tips on cleaning your currently very dirty skillet, and they’ve told you the proper way to reseason it. Follow their advise, it is very good.

    After you’ve cleaned all the residue off and reseasoned, here is how you keep it from getting into that condition again.

    First of all, NEVER, NEVER, EVER wash your cast iron cook wear in soapy water, unless you want to have to reseason it after every use.

    I use a clean soft bristled scrub brush and extremely hot (140*F or hotter) tap water. I scrub out the grease and any particles remaining, using just the hot water and brush. Then I place my skillet on a lighted burner of the stove and leave it there until dry. After the skillet is dry, I pour a little cooking oil (no more than a tablespoonful) into the skillet and use a thick pad of papertowels to spread it around to give a light coating of oil over all the inside of the skillet.

    Afterwards, I let the skillet cool and put it away.

    This will keep your skillet non-stick without the necessity of frequent reseasoning. As a Registered Nurse once told me, “If you heat that rinsed skillet smoking hot, there are mighty few germs that can survive.”

    They don’t call cast iron cookware the original non-stick cookware for nothing.

    Doc

  12. Diamonds28 said:

    When I lived at home my mother had a cast iron skillet and had a really neat way of getting stuck on food off of it. She taught me to pour hot soap dishwater into the skillet and put it on the stove over medium heat. As the skillet warms up use a spatula to scrap off the stubborn food particles that would not come off with plain handwashing. WORKED EVERYTIME!




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