How to Clean Cast Iron: Everything You Need to Know


Hello Challenger! Do you love cooking with cast iron cookware? Perhaps you inherited your grandparent’s cast iron skillet, or maybe you just love the way it cooks your meals. Cast iron cookware is durable, long-lasting, and versatile. However, it requires proper care and cleaning to ensure it lasts for generations to come. In this article, we will show you everything you need to know about how to clean cast iron.

From the different cleaning methods to the common mistakes people make, we’ve got you covered. Ready to become a cast iron cleaning pro? Let’s dive right in!

What Is Cast Iron?

Cast iron is a type of cooking material that has been used for centuries. It is made by pouring molten iron into a sand mold, creating a thick, heavy piece of cookware. Cast iron is beloved by cooks all over the world because it heats evenly, retains heat well, and can go from stovetop to oven with ease.

However, cast iron can be difficult to clean and maintain, especially if you’re not familiar with how to properly care for it. Let’s take a look at some of the most common cleaning methods for cast iron, starting with the basics.

How to Clean Cast Iron: The Basics

Soap and Water Method

The easiest and most common way to clean cast iron is with dish soap and warm water. Here’s how:

Step Instructions
Step 1 Using a paper towel or rag, remove any excess food or debris from the pan.
Step 2 Fill the sink with warm, soapy water.
Step 3 Place the cast iron pan in the water and use a sponge or scrubber to clean the surface.
Step 4 Rinse the pan thoroughly with hot water.
Step 5 Use a clean towel or paper towel to dry the pan thoroughly.

Be sure to dry the pan completely to prevent rusting.

Oil and Salt Method

If your cast iron pan has stubborn grime or buildup that won’t come off with just soap and water, try this method:

Step Instructions
Step 1 Coat the pan with a layer of coarse salt.
Step 2 Add a few drops of vegetable oil to the pan.
Step 3 Using a paper towel or rag, rub the salt and oil mixture into the pan in a circular motion.
Step 4 Rinse the pan thoroughly with hot water.
Step 5 Use a clean towel or paper towel to dry the pan thoroughly.

The salt acts as a gentle abrasive, and the oil helps to lift off any grime. This method is also great for removing rust from cast iron.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Cast Iron

Mistake #1: Using Soap on Cast Iron

Many people believe that using soap on cast iron will strip the seasoning and ruin the pan. However, this is a common myth. As long as you use a mild dish soap and rinse the pan well, there’s no harm in using soap on cast iron.

Mistake #2: Soaking Cast Iron in Water

Although you need to use water to clean cast iron, you should never let it soak in water for an extended period of time. This can cause rust and damage the seasoning.

Mistake #3: Using Metal Scrubbers

Metal scrubbers and scouring pads can scratch the surface of your cast iron pan and damage the seasoning. Stick to non-abrasive sponges or brushes instead.

Mistake #4: Not Drying Thoroughly

After washing your cast iron pan, be sure to dry it thoroughly. Any leftover water can lead to rust or damage the seasoning.

Mistake #5: Using Too Much Oil

When seasoning your cast iron pan or using oil to clean it, be sure not to use too much oil. Excess oil can build up on the surface of the pan and become sticky over time.

Mistake #6: Scrubbing Too Hard

You don’t need to scrub your cast iron pan within an inch of its life to get it clean. In fact, being too rough can damage the seasoning and scratch the surface of the pan. Use a gentle hand when cleaning and avoid using too much force.


Q: How often should I clean my cast iron pan?

A: You should clean your cast iron pan after each use to prevent buildup and ensure it lasts for years.

Q: Can I use a dishwasher to clean my cast iron pan?

A: No, you should never put cast iron in the dishwasher. The harsh detergents and high temperatures can damage the pan.

Q: What if my cast iron pan rusts?

A: If your cast iron pan rusts, you can remove the rust with steel wool or an oil and salt mixture. Then, re-season the pan to restore its nonstick coating.

Q: Can I use olive oil to season my cast iron pan?

A: Yes, you can use olive oil to season your cast iron pan. However, it has a lower smoke point than other oils, so it may not be the best choice for high-heat cooking.


Cleaning and caring for your cast iron cookware may seem intimidating, but with the right knowledge and tools, it’s a breeze. Whether you prefer soap and water or a salt and oil scrub, make sure you don’t make the common cleaning mistakes we’ve outlined.

Remember, proper care and cleaning will ensure that your cast iron pan lasts for generations to come. Happy cooking!

Call to Action

Ready to take the next step in your cast iron cleaning journey? Grab a sponge, your favorite dish soap, and get started! Your cast iron cookware will thank you.

Closing Statement with Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. We are not responsible for any damage or injury resulting from the use of this information. Please consult with a professional before attempting any cleaning or maintenance on your cast iron cookware. Use caution when working with hot surfaces and cleaning solutions. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use recommended cleaning methods.