It doesn’t take much more than warm water and a drop of natural dish soap to clean a cast iron skillet.

From beautifully searing meat to baking delicious sweet breads in the oven, cast iron is a versatile tool to have in any home cook’s kitchen. However, there aren’t many kitchen annoyances worse than dealing with a rusty, dusty cast iron that hasn’t been taken care of well.

Coat cast iron with 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Cast iron can sometimes be seen as notoriously finicky to deal with, but in all reality, it's simple to clean. In today’s article, we’ll break down how to clean your cast iron quickly, safely, and naturally while keeping it well taken care of so that you can sear, bake, and fry your way to culinary happiness.

Getting Started with Your Cast Iron

For new cast iron pans:

Whether you received a new cast iron pan as a gift or picked one up from the kitchen aisle at your local store, the first step is seasoning your cast iron. Some already come seasoned, so be sure to check the packaging on yours. If yours is pre-seasoned, you can get straight to cooking; if not, follow these tips:

  1. Give your cast iron a soft scrub with some water and a drop of dish soap like Puracy Natural Dish Soap, making sure not to use an abrasive brush (a washcloth works great).
  2. Rinse and towel dry your pan, and then coat with 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, using a paper towel or rag to cover the entire pan (handles and the bottom, too!).
  3. In an oven heated to 350 degrees F., turn the pan upside down with aluminum foil underneath to catch any drips or leaks, and bake in the oven for one hour.
  4. Use any type of cooking utensils, even metal, because there isn’t a chemical coating that might get damaged on cast iron.
  5. Cast iron holds on to heat very well, so a lower heat can help keep your food from sticking. Remember to use a handle mitt, too, because the entire skillet will heat up!
Scrub old cast iron with gentle dish soap and a nylon brush

By seasoning your pan, you’ll have a smooth surface to cook on. If you ever notice that your pan is feeling rough or sticky, simply follow the above steps again.

For old, rusty cast iron pans:

Even though rusted cast iron can seem beyond fixing, it can actually be simple to clean and reseason.

  1. With a little bit of water and just a drop of gentle dish soap, get your pan wet. With a nylon bristle scrub brush, scrub until all of the rust is gone from your pan—elbow grease preferred!
  2. Rinse and follow the above directions to re-season your pan in the oven. Voila! It’s ready to cook up your next meal.

Cast iron upkeep + how to clean cast iron 

Once your cast iron is seasoned (or re-seasoned), you’re good to go. However, there are a couple of cardinal rules when it comes to how to care for your cast iron and how to clean cast iron.

  1. Never, ever soak your cast iron in water, and be sure it’s always wiped dry after use to prevent rusting.
  2. Don’t let your pan sit, and always clean it right after you’re done using it. It is easiest to clean when warm to the touch. A helpful hint is to enjoy the food and clean the skillet once you are done eating. This should give adequate time for it to cool from hot to warm.
  3. To maintain luster and shine, a thin layer of vegetable oil (just like what you used to season your cast iron) should be applied while the cast iron is still warm before storing it away.
  4. The trick to sticky food or cleaning up after a particularly messy cooking extravaganza is simply some water, a drop of dish soap, and a non-abrasive scrubber. You can also simmer some water for 1 minute if something is sticking. Easy as pie.
  5. Dry right away and completely with a cloth or paper towel.
  6. Don’t use harsh chemical cleaners on your cast iron—all cast iron usually needs for some lovin’ is oil, an oven, and the occasional small bout of dish soap.
  7. To store cast iron, hang it or keep it in a dry place.

Cast iron is strong and can hold up to a lot of use, but taking care of your cast iron is vital in ensuring that it works well for you for years to come. Learning how to clean cast iron effectively and quickly is the perfect way to make sure your cast iron is around for many more soups, pizzas, roasted potatoes, and even skillet brownies. With a gentle, natural cleaner like Puracy Natural Dish Soap, you’ll know your cast iron is getting clean while keeping your family safe from harsh chemicals.

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