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shmofro's avatar

How do you best clean a cast iron skillet?

Asked by shmofro (23points) February 18th, 2010

I just got a cast iron skillet as a gift and seasoned it properly. I’ve been making grilled cheese in it and just rinsing and wiping it out. I want to make some fish for dinner but I’ve heard you can’t use soap on a cast iron skillet or else everything after will taste like soap, especially because it’s newer. It sounds disgusting to cook meat and just wipe it out or rinse it with boiling water. Please help!

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20 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I pour in a bunch of salt and scrub with that and simply rinse and dry.

Cruiser's avatar

You definitely don’t ever use soap as everything you cook will taste like the soap. @hawaii_jake has it right with salt and a bit of cooking oil should clean most needs. If you have baked on heavy buildup soak in hot water until food loosens then dry on the stove over a flame and salt and oil to reseal the pan.

Zajvhal's avatar

Honestly, i use soap on my cast iron pans all the time and nothing ever tastes like soap. You’re not supposed to use soap, but I find it doesn’t really cause a problem as long as you’re not using too much or scrubbing too hard. The key is the pan has to be seasonsed well. Because I do use soap, I have to season the pans more often, but I’ve never had a problem w/stuff tasting like soap. Definitely don’t soak the pans though, that’s a no-no.

Zajvhal's avatar

@Cruiser sorry, I didn’t mean to contradict you there about the soaking, you have that right, soak it if there’s a lot of baked on stuff, but otherwise no.

augustlan's avatar

The hottest water you can get, a nylon scrubbie, and lots of elbow grease. If you do use soap, it probably won’t make it taste like soap, but you’ll have to re-season the pan every time, which sort of defeats the purpose of using cast iron. That build-up is what makes everything taste so good!

wundayatta's avatar

Soap unseasons cast iron pans. It takes that glistening sheen of oil away. That’s why you don’t use it. Don’t do it.

Cruiser's avatar

@Zajvhal Quite all right and by soaking I did mean long enough to loosen the baked mess. We do that In Scouts with the dutch ovens we use and as long as you reoil and reheat them it’s very fine. The soap really rears it’s ugly head if you use it in Dutch ovens as the long cooking times will allow that soapy flavor to really come out and it’s nasty!

davidbetterman's avatar

Scrub it with sand.

Zajvhal's avatar

@Cruiser, that makes sense, I rarely use it other than on the stovetop

@lucillelucillelucille NO!!! Cast iron’s are the BEST!! You just have to get used to them, but they’re way better than that other teflon coated stuff!

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@Cruiser & @wundayatta….I beg to differ with you guys. I have several pieces of cast iron that I use all the time.. Granted, I’ve had them for YEARS, & they’re beyond seasoned. The inside bottoms are as smooth as glass. I wouldn’t dream of putting them away without washing them. Ick! I wash them in the sink right along with other dishes. I make sure they’re completely dry when I put them away, & every now & them, I rub a thin layer of Pam on them. You CAN wash them. Soap doesn’t unseason them.

CMaz's avatar

Just make sure you do not get rid of all the cooked on goodness.

People pride themselves with having a well seasoned cast iron pan.

charliecompany34's avatar

while the skillet is still warm from cooking, add water or wine to deglaze or pick up stuck on pieces. let set for a while and then scrape and wash. coat washed skillet with vegetable oil or olive oil and wipe excess. an oiled iron skillet is a seasoned iron skillet.

faye's avatar

Does it make a big difference how old they are? I’m with @jbfletcherfan. I wash mine in the sink with soap, never reseason.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@faye the only thing I’d say on the age thing is that the more you use them & the older they are, they’re going to be better seasoned, of course. It’s a big PIA to GET them seasoned, but once they’re there, it’s worth it.

filmfann's avatar

I have 4, and wash them with soap. I dry them on the stovetop, and occasionally reseason them. Never noticed any taste difference.

MrsDufresne's avatar

I thought the same thing when I first got my cast iron skillet. But I realized that the heat kills all the germs. I rinse mine with really hot water and wipe it out with a few paper towels, then I season it by coating the inside with a thin layer of olive oil and putting in a low temp oven (about 300° F) for about an hour. This does the trick just fine. As long as all the residue is cleaned off, the heat will kill any germs.

thriftymaid's avatar

You basically can use anything to clean them; just be sure to oil them afterwards.

bccreative's avatar

If I have really cooked-on food left on my skillet, I’ll put in enough water to cover most of this “crust” and boil it loose, then use a wooden scraper and/or soft bristle brush and finally paper towel to finish removing stuff and dry it.

I then add some canola oil (but not spray oil, as it contains lecithin which I hear isn’t good) and really rub it in well with paper towel and then try to wipe virtually all of the oil out again with another paper towel.

BUT… doesn’t freshly applied oil get rancid, whether it’s then heated or not??

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