How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet After Each Use

Cleaning a cast iron skillet can feel intimidating. After all, the typical cleaning instructions tell you what not to do instead of how to clean.

But the truth is, caring for cast iron is a simple job. Giving your skillet a quick wash after cooking will keep it rust-free and lasting for years.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

Here’s the best way to clean a cast iron skillet after each use.

How to Treat a Cast Iron Skillet After Cooking

You’ll need water and a soft-bristled scrub brush to clean your cast iron skillet. (If you don’t have a scrub brush use a soft sponge.)

Here’s what to do:

  • Allow the pan to cool down
  • With the pan still warm, take a paper towel and wipe the interior to remove cooking oil and food.
  • Rinse the pan under cool water and use your soft-bristled scrub brush to loosen stuck-on food
  • Rinse under water and towel dry.
  • After cleaning, use a paper towel to apply a light coat of oil to the inside and then buff the oil.

While you may be used to cleaning your pots and pans with dish soap or throwing them in the dishwasher, these steps are harmful to cast iron. Instead, wiping your cast iron and rinsing it with water is all you need to do after each use. 

How to Clean an Extra Dirty Cast Iron Skillet

Avoid using soap or abrasive cleaners if you’ve burnt food in your cast iron skillet. Instead, loosen up the food by boiling water in the pan. After the water boils, dump it out, and use your non-abrasive scrub brush to remove the mess. (Be careful when handling a hot skillet, use pot holders for protection.)

If boiling water doesn’t work, make a paste with warm water and kosher salt. Apply the paste to the burnt areas and use a wooden spatula to scrub off the food.

Cleaning Products to Avoid on Cast Iron

Never use abrasive products, like steel wool or powder cleaners, on cast iron. To keep your skillet’s seasoned layer intact, avoid dish soap. And most important of all, never put a cast iron dish in the dishwasher. Doing so will lead to rust.