How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet with Burnt On

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Are you tired of those stubborn stains in your cast-iron skillet? Do you think that you should improve the performance of your pan? 

Explore some easy cleaning hacks that will help you keep your skillets, not just clean but in top shape! From important storage tips to some good eco-friendly cleaning hacks, we have it all. Want to clean oil and grease stains? Use paper towels. But, should we get rid of surface oils completely? Well, that would be a no!

When it comes to cleaning cast-iron utensils, hot water is your best friend, and also a dry pan can be good unless it is not devoid of oils. It is the underrated seasoning that helps those pans retain efficiency, shine, and good looks.

How To Clean Cast Iron Skillet

1. Sponge Or Stiff Brush

This is the easiest and the most popular method when it comes to cleaning a cast-iron skillet. You would need a sponge or stiff brush, dry cloth or paper towels, and vegetable oil to restore your skillet. 

Wash the unclean skillet with hot water and use your hand to clean it with a stiff brush or sponge. You must use gloves if the water it very hot and don’t burn your hands, please! Don’t use detergent or soap this time as this may affect the seasoning of the pan. 

If you have stuck-on food, use a paste of coarse kosher salt water and scrub it off. Use a paper towel to scrub the food leftovers as the residue has already loosened after the effective hot water treatment. Once done, thoroughly dry it with paper towels or you can use heat for more efficient drying. 

You can also apply a light coat of vegetable oil or melted shortening to retain the shine and seasoning of the pan after cleaning. You can also oil the outer surface and remove any excess oil by buffing. Do store the frying pan in a dry place. 

2. No Rust Please

Now, hot water treatment without detergent would be effected for minor burns or stains. If you want to make your frying pan rust-free, you would need steel wool, soap, sponge, dish or paper towel, aluminum foil, and oven. 

First, remove the rust using steel wool and scrub until the affected areas return to raw cast iron. Next, wash the skillet thoroughly with hot water and soap and scrub it with a sponge and bristle brush. 

Dry the skillet properly before applying vegetable oil on the entire piece. Also, don’t forget to oil the bottom and handle of the pan since rusting might be there as well. 

Heat the skillet in the oven in an upside-down position in the top rack. Heat it for about an hour at 350-degree Fahrenheit and you can also use aluminum foil to absorb excess oil dips. Once the cast iron is cool after heating, get back to cooking! 

Both methods are similar and have almost the same steps. For simple cleaning, detergent is not required as they will be too harsh on the surface while to clean rust, rub the sponge wool with just enough force to remove the raw rust. Do not, I repeat, do not use steel wool to remove the food residue. They can successively destroy the surface. A pan scraper would be enough for this case.  

If you are very particular about seasoning the skillet, be careful with the drying part. Applying vegetable oil to a semi-dry surface might not yield good results. Also, the pan will retain moisture if it isn’t dried properly and this will eventually rust the surface. 

You might be confused about why all these points are about using your hands to wash a skillet instead of the very effective dishwashers. Something as delicate as cast iron is not good for the dishwasher, where it might lose its seasoning and eventually develop rust as well. 

Tips For Cleaning Skillet More Efficiently 

Efficient cleaning is extremely important when it comes to kitchen utensils as they require less effort and are cost-effective. Eco-friendly tips tick both the criteria and it will help you save some effort as well. 

First and foremost, appreciate the power of water! I mean, soak your pots and pans into the water, way before cleaning them. This will remove the grease easily and will save you some time as well. 

If you notice rusty patches in your pan, use kosher salt as an abrasive before wiping it out with an oily towel. 

We used kosher salt to remove stuck-on food. You can replace it with vinegar and baking soda. It will be easier and an eco-friendly option. Similarly, burnt-on food residue can be removed with lemon and salt and off course, scrubbing! Baking soda is also helpful if you want to dry the skillet in no time. Just sprinkle some baking soda on it and you will have a dry cast-iron surface immediately! 

Tips For Taking Care Of Cast-Iron Skillet

1. We must be very careful with skillets while storing them, I mean what else would ‘taking care’ mean? So, if you are looking for a long-term storage hack for skillets, you must know that a heavy seasoning is the only option. Adorning your pan with a protective coating of cooking oil nourishes the layers of iron and prevents rust. 

2. If unused for a week or more, you must use heavy oils like coconut which contains saturated fat. For short-term, vegetable oils would work fine. 

3. Coming to the most controversial question, should we use soap? Soaps and detergents are not good to cast-iron due to its contents but using eco-friendly replacements would be a good option unless they don’t contain any polishing agents.

4. Exposure to prolonged moisture and air can cause rust and you will never want that! Store it in a cool and dry place and make sure it is absolutely dry (a water droplet can make a huge difference). Do resist the temptation of stacking iron pieces up together ask prolonged weight can harm the seasoning of the skillet. 

Maintaining and restoring kitchen utensils is not an easy job, and they do require immense effort. Hopefully, these ideas will help you keep the shine intact in your cast-iron skillet. Happy cleaning!

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