Cleaning Cast Iron Pans: If At First You Don't Succeed... - The Hopeful Home Cook Blog at - 277748

The Hopeful Home Cook

Cleaning Cast Iron Pans: If At First You Don't Succeed... 
Jun. 19, 2012 1:34 pm 
Updated: Jul. 6, 2012 4:03 am
Those who know me well will likely attest to this fact: I am no more a clean person than my (6'4") husband is petite. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's not like I would just choose to live in utter filth, but, truth be told, left to myself I'd really rather not clean. Maybe one day I'll have the financial freedom to hire someone else to do the dirty work for me, but that day is nowhere in the foreseeable future. Now, I don't mean to say that I'm all alone in the domestic world - my husband Steve is phenomenally helpful when it comes to just about anything around the house -  it's just that I'd rather not have to learn how to do certain tasks. 

In the month since our wedding, I've already found several such tasks.

One particularly arduous job is learning how to clean out each of our new small appliances. Now, as wonderful as it is to have a kitchen full of nice new things, courtesy of all of our friends and family, a task as mountainous as writing out our thank-you notes is learning (and remembering) how to not only operate each individual gadget, but how to clean it. Some of them are not too bad, really. By this point, I've learned most things just disassemble and go into the dishwasher. (If they come clean, they were probably meant to be cleaned in the dishwasher! :P Just kidding... somewhat...)

One thing that I was specifically instructed not to put in the dishwasher, though, is my new cast iron pan. I first decided to use my cast iron pan because (I think) it is the only one in my arsenal that can go from stovetop to oven, and I wanted to try a recipe that required this versatility. What I didn't realize was that cast iron is a bit difficult to work with. Just a bit. 

I'd never cooked with a cast iron pan, and I *definitely* had never cleaned one. All I really knew was that my particular pan was "pre-seasoned" (which I hoped to be some sort of culinary code for idiot-proof) and that it did not go in the dishwasher. I struggled a bit cooking with the pan (this is after my original recipe - the one the made me decide to use the cast iron in the first place - didn't work out because my chicken mysteriously spoiled  - another story for another day :P), and had a hard time remembering to use a pot holder when I wanted to grab the handle.

After Steve and I finished dinner, I decided to Google ideas for cleaning my now soiled cast iron. I was met with somewhat contradictory responses, about using soap, not using soap, etc. I finally came across an article that said to just rinse the pan off. That sounded easy! Unfortunately, when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Let's just say that rinsing my cast iron off did, in effect, nothing. In a last stitch attempt, I used up about a dozen paper towels trying to scrape off the goop, rubbed some olive oil on it per my mom's advice, and heated it up on my stove. And there it sits. A bit grubby, a bit misunderstood, waiting for the day that I become a good enough housewife to know what to do with it.

Until that day, it serves as a daily reminder that I've got a few lessons left to learn, and that's okay. It gives me a good chuckle, anyways. 

Stayin' hopeful,

Jun. 19, 2012 5:36 pm
oh throw the thing in a soapy sink and clean it with a brillo type pad. Dry it by setting it in a warm oven or stovetop then oil it lightly (I use olive oil) before stowing. That's my method and it works. There are many others who will tell you different anf they are not wrong, just different. I" favour a good wash just cuz I can't stand the idea of any residuals getting in the next dish I cook in the thing. Note, my cast iron pans are the most frequently used pans in the kitchen. Lotsa luck kiddo.
Jun. 19, 2012 6:45 pm
the proper way to not to use soap, rinse and wipe it out. If you just want to clean it more it is best to use salt as an abrasive. soap removes a protective layer that fills the pits and dips in the pan that gives it that non-stick effect. soap can also get into the pits and dips in cast iron, and then may come out when you cook food that could change the taste of your food. I personal use water in the heated pan and wipe clean with paper towels, when clean, I use Olive oil to coat the cooking surface.
Jun. 19, 2012 9:52 pm
Mr. Sparta, like I said, lots of different ways to do a cast iron pan. For the record though, in my 35+ years of washing my frying pans, I've yet to taste soap in them. However, in my ill fated attempt to season my pans good and proper, scouring with salt and such, I did indeed taste garlic and onions a time or two when I hadn't planned on it. That said, whatever gives you pleasure really, it's a who cares kind of thing. I did a blog on cast iron pans early on in my tenure here and the responses were as varied as you can imagine.
Jun. 20, 2012 3:48 am
As said above - there are many different ways to clean your cast-iron, but I think all agree to keep it out of the dishwasher! I use my cast-iron for both dessert baking and savory dishes and I use a scraper and very hot water to clean mine. Then I dry thoroughly. Every other time or so I use a little olive oil to coat the surface. I've never had an issue with "old" flavors coming out in what I was cooking/baking in it. I have a lot of Pampered Chef baking stoneware and I clean it the same way. One thing to remember for both the cast-iron and stoneware - be sure they are no longer hot before you go putting them in water.
Jun. 20, 2012 7:45 am
I'm one that subscribed to the thought to never use soap on cast iron because of the "residual soapy taste" that would be left. Because of Raedwulf's blog ( ) I decided to experiment with my overworked cast iron. I began using soapy dishwater and to my surprise, no soap tastes- ever since! I believe my problems may have been caused by not rinsing in hot enough water. For very sticky or burned in residue, I will fill the pan with water ( at lest 1/2 inch) above the residue and put it on a burner to boil then steep until residue is loosened, scrape out and wash. Never a problem in the sixteen months since that blog.
Jun. 20, 2012 11:01 am
I still have the "don't use soap" mentality. Regardless of whether you do or do do not use soap to clean it, just make sure to dry really well before storing so it doesn't rust. Learned that lesson the hard way.
Jun. 20, 2012 3:36 pm
I have 75+ yr old cast iron pans that were my grandmothers and I use them, as she did, almost daily. I wash them in hot soapy water, as she did, take them out dry well with a paper towel and set them on the stove to get any residual moisture dry. About once a year I put a light coat of canola oil in, spread it over the bottom and up the sides and stick the pan in a 350 oven for about an hour. Take it out, cool it and wipe the excess oil out and put it away. My only 2 suggestions - don't use a Brillo, SOS or steel wool on the pans that will damage the seasoning use the same type scrubber as you do for non-stick. Second, always be sure it is thoroughly dry before storing. Take care of that pan and you will be able to hand it off to your grandchild as a treasure!
Jun. 20, 2012 5:45 pm
Mike Harvey is right about adding water and boiling it. That really helps to loosen things up.
Jun. 22, 2012 7:17 pm
I I hand wash my cast Iron skillets and chicken fryer and they continueto work great If my oven is hot i put them in there with it on to really dry the cast Iron pans so they do not rust or I put them on my stove burners and turn on the burner and let them dry. One of those pans flamed up so I slammed A LID ON it and ti urned that burner off and let it cool then dump out the oil that did stay in the pan and waSHED MY PAN THENWHEN i STARTED UP my charcoal grill I tossed it into the burning charcoal and b urned the pan good and then set it to cool anmmnd scraped the bburned crud off and waashed the pan again and dried it in the oven then greased it with crisco and let iit heat up then when it cooled I wiped out the inside ofn theen pan and lidn and then put it away and it wqas like new again I burn and re season all my cast Iron paans every yearr to keeep them as fgood as new and one of my pans is my Grandma's fry pan and befor that it was her Mama's so that one fry pan is over one Hundred years old and still going like new. every pan in my home would be cast Iron if I could find them.
Jun. 22, 2012 7:33 pm
I've never ever used soap on my pan. I've let hot water soak the interior after cooking messy stuff, but if you season your pan well, all you usually have to do is use a plastic scrubber brush on your pan under running water & let it air dry. I also use a little plastic palm scraper to remove burnt crud. Paper towels leave residue on the cast iron. Frying chicken or other food at least once will help season your pan very well. Love my cast iron pans!
Peggy Chestnut 40 
Jul. 6, 2012 4:03 am
I have build up on utside of pan what do you do for that
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About Me
Hey there! I'm a college student / brand new bride / hopeful housewife that really loves to eat! I've enjoyed cooking ever since my dad and mom started cooking with me when I was a young kid. I'll try almost anything and I love to cook anything with a gourmet flair to it! More than anything, though, I love cooking for my husband, family, and friends, and opening my home to others to share a meal and some Christian hospitality!
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I love to cook anything! I'm just starting to get into baking, it's a little tough for me because I really love being creative and there are some things about baking you just *can't* change (measuring out things like baking powder or yeast is something that I can only do with a great deal of self-control! :)). Nevertheless it's been a tasty ride! I also love cooking with the Mediterranean flavors that I grew super fond of when I spent a semester on a missions trip in the north of Spain. Gazpacho is my husband's personal fave. Fresh garlic is also big ingredient in our home, my husband would eat it a dozen cloves at a time if I'd let him! I think my favorite thing about cooking is that it's something Steve and I have always loved to do together! Whether it's making sushi, chocolate lava cakes, or a big pot of chili, sharing time in the kitchen is a huge part of our lives.
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