How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

Cast Iron Care 101

While I'm in Philadelphia, my mother-in-law Wendy shows me how to properly clean a cast iron skillet.  I only own one of these at home - it's a small one, so I only use it occasionally, to toast nuts or grill one sandwich or egg.  Wendy owns three of them and they're pretty much all she uses to cook.


Wendy's Method

  1. Allow cast iron pan to cool before cleaning.

  2. Wash with a chainmail scrubber and water - no soap!

  3. Dry the pan thoroughly with paper towels. Do not use a dish towel; they might get stained. Make sure no wet spot is left behind, or you'll have a rusty skillet!

  4. Use a drop of oil (Wendy uses vegetable oil) and another paper towel to rub it all in.

Other Tips

  1. Use 100% organic flaxseed oil! Apparently other types of oil make the cast iron vulnerable to scratches. Flaxseed will do the opposite, resulting in a hard finish.

  2. I heard from a few people that it's okay to use soap on cast iron - the problem is letting it soak in the sink.

  3. Dry the pan out by heating it on the stove, then rub in the oil to help it absorb. This will also reseason it.

  4. Never put the cast iron in the dishwasher or use steel wool.