How to Care for a Cast Iron Skillet

If you love to cook and want your cast iron cookware to last you years to come, it’s crucial to know how to care for a cast iron skillet. With the wrong method, you could damage your cast iron pans.

Keep reading and we’ll go over exactly what you need to do!

What Makes Cleaning Cast Iron Special?

You can’t clean a cast iron pan the same way that you clean your favorite stainless steel skillet.

If you clean a cast iron pan improperly, you can ruin the seasoning, dry the skillet out, or even shorten its lifespan. With the right technique, your cast iron skillet will last years to come!

My Story

I was first introduced to cast iron skillets via my sister, years ago and until very recently had the least desire of ever owning one. They are really hard to care for, right? Eh, wrong! While it is true that you can’t just toss them in the dishwasher like other pans and you shouldn’t use dish soap to clean them, I have learned it is fairly simple to care for cast iron. And when properly done, they last beyond a lifetime!

Caring for Cast Iron

Dry immediately.

Then apply a thin coat of vegetable oil. If it’s sticky, then you know you’ve put too much on!

And that’s all there is to it. All clean!

What You’ll Need to Care for a Cast Iron Skillet:

  • Hot water
  • Sponge or scrubbing brush
    • Note that it’s commonly advised to avoid using anything too abrasive on your cast iron skillet. For this method, opt for something like the sponge you use for dishes, not anything as harsh as steel wool.
  • Paper towels
  • Stovetop
  • Vegetable oil

How to Care for a Cast Iron Skillet

Step 1: Scrub the Pan’s Surface

The first thing you’ll want to do is grab your hot water and sponge. You can start by filling the cast iron skillet with a bit of hot water but don’t let it sit.

Remember, cast iron is porous and shouldn’t soak for extended periods of time else it’ll be prone to rust.

Instead, use the hot water to help you scrub your pan clean of any food or residue left behind from your last meal.

Step 2: Dry Off Your Cast Iron Pan

Again, you don’t want to leave your cast iron pan damp, or else you risk damage.

So, the next step before moving forward is to make sure your cast iron pan is completely dry. You can grab a paper towel to help blot up any excess moisture.

Your stove can come in handy in drying your cast iron skillets as well. Rather than letting it air dry,  place your skillet over a burner on medium heat. Then, give it time to heat up and evaporate any remaining water out of the cast iron skillet.

Step 3: Add Some Vegetable Oil

Once you’ve dried your cast iron cookware, you don’t want to just put it away immediately.

Take a moment to add a very thin layer of oil to your pan. You’ll want to use a neutral oil here and one of the most popular choices is one you might already have in your pantry: vegetable oil.

You don’t want to overdo it here, so make sure to use another paper towel to blot up any excess oil. As a general rule of thumb, if your cast iron cookware starts to feel sticky at all, you’ve probably added a bit too much oil.

How to Clean Cast Iron Skillets with Salt

Step 1: Add Supplies to Your Cast Iron Pan

If you have stuck on food in your cast iron pan, you can handle it with a bit of warm water and kosher salt. To start, work with your pan while it’s still a little warm and add 1/4 cup of salt with just a splash of warm water.

Step 2: Start Scrubbing

Now, to clean cast iron with this method, you can just start scrubbing with a sponge. The kosher salt should help gently scrub away any mess and it dissolves as you go thanks to the water.

How to Clean Lodge Cast Iron Skillets

Step 1: Grab Some Soap and Water

Lodge cast iron is a popular choice when it comes to brands of these kinds of skillets. Unlike many cast iron enthusiasts, the brand says it’s fine to use a drop or two of dish soap with your water. From here, you can just wash it by hand.

Step 2: Dry Your Skillet

Now, dry your skillet to prevent rust thanks to any sitting water left behind on the pan. Once again, you can rely on a few paper towels and some time on the stove for this.

Step 3: Oil Your Skillet

Finally, grab some vegetable oil and follow the same steps we outlined earlier to oil your pan.

How to Clean Cast Iron Skillets with Boiling Water

Step 1: Bring Water to a Boil

Put your cast iron skillet on the stove over high heat and add a cup or two of water. Bring this to a boil. After a few minutes, you should start to see the stuck on food lift away as the water boils.

Step 2: Dry and Oil

Once you’ve lifted this stuck on food away, you can pour out the water and dry off the pan as you normally would. Don’t forget to add some oil before you call it a day on cleaning your cast iron cookware!

Do You Have to Season a Cast Iron Skillet Before Using It?

Seasoning your cast iron pans will help you for a variety of reasons. While you don’t necessarily have to season your cast iron pan, the step will help you avoid problems like sticking. This is because by properly taking the steps for seasoning cast iron, you create an even surface to cook on. Cooking with your pan can help season it as well.

How Do You Keep a Cast Iron Skillet Seasoned?

For one, using your cast iron skillet regularly will help keep it seasoned. As for seasoning it, we’ve already covered one surefire way to season your cast iron skillet.
After all, that’s what you’re doing when you take the last step of any of these tutorials and add a layer of oil to the pan. Remember, the key here is to use a thin layer of oil. You don’t want too much oil residue left behind.

Do You Have to Wash a Cast Iron Skillet After Each Use?

Yes! You want your cast iron skillet cleaned properly but still cleaned after each use. Just like any other piece of cookware you might use, you don’t want to just put it back in the cabinet after you fry an egg.

The key is to make sure you properly clean and season your pan before using it again.

What Utensils Can You Use with Cast Iron?

With a well-seasoned pan, you can use almost any utensil since cast iron is so durable. You can even opt for metal utensils but a silicone spatula will also do the trick if you’re looking for something a little gentler.

Did you enjoy our tutorial? Taking care of your cast iron cookware is a great way to make sure it lasts for years to come. If you liked our tutorial, make sure to let us know below and share this guide with someone who needs it!

Now that I know how to care for this beast of a skillet, I am looking forward to learning how to cook with it! So far I have tried homemade tortillas. They turned out good, but I need practice! Next up is pizza.

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