You might be wondering what all the fuss is surrounding cast iron skillets. You’re not sure exactly what they are and why you have to clean them differently than other pots and pans, so you use yours like you would anything else, and then you move on with your day. If this is you, you should definitely pay close attention to how to clean cast iron skillets, and then pay close attention to the secret to getting your cast iron skillet clean, without destroying the purpose behind it.
Do Not Clean It With Soap And Water
The appeal of cooking with cast iron skillets lies in the skillet’s ability to accumulate cooking oils, greases, fats, and flavors over time, and to season the food you’re cooking as such. Just imagine: baking chocolate chips cookies in your cast iron skillet, with a hint of bacon grease thrown in there from the skillet’s seasoning. It’s good stuff! However, in order for the good stuff to remain, you cannot wash your skillet with soap and water, like you would any other skillet. Why? It strips the pan of it’s flavors and seasonings, and then the worst part, water will cause your pan to rust very quickly. Water is fine for a quick rinse, but it’s imperative to dry the skillet very thoroughly with a towel or paper towel.
How To Clean It Correctly
Now that we’ve established that soap is a no no, and that water is okay as long as you put it away completely dry, we’ll tell you the secret to getting your skillet clean without losing the accumulated seasonings: salt.
Simply rinse the skillet with water, and then in a large cup or small bowl, mix together a tablespoon of kosher salt and 2 cups of warm water. Stir the water and salt together until you have a gritty scrub. Take a clean, dry wash rag, dip it into the scrub, and gently scrub until the loose debris has broken off the pan and you have a flat, smooth surface of just the iron skillet. Depending on what was cooked before, you may be doing quite a bit of scrubbing with a towel, but never use steel wool to expedite the process.
Once the grit and grime has been removed, rinse the cast iron skillet with water. With a towel or paper towel, spend a few minutes drying every surface, crack and cranny.
Douse it in Oil
Once your skillet is clean and dry, take a tablespoon of olive oil, pour it in the middle of the pan, and spread it around, rubbing it in with a paper towel. This will serve as a protective coating for the dry surface, and a great base for your next round of seasoning.
Don’t be intimidated by cast iron skillets! Simply avoid cleaning them with soap and water, utilize the salt water scrub method, dry them thoroughly, and coat them in a layer of protective oil, and your cast iron skillet will be your favorite cooking tool for life!