How do I clean build up off of cast iron skillets?

  8 answers
  • Hi Tasha, if a good scrub brush or steel wool isn't working, try these steps to really clean up a cast iron skillet:

  • Laura Cooper Laura Cooper on Dec 23, 2018

    Tasha, you can start over and reseason if you want. There are different philosophies for stripping skillets. Some people cook it off in a self-cleaning oven (my preference), or scrub off with steel wool or spray with oven cleaner. Once they are cleaned, thoroughly dry and back to the smooth steel, coat with oil and cook at a low temp for a couple of hours. Coat all surfaces. Do NOT use vegetable or olive oils as these break down too quickly. Most old timers recommend pork fat as first choice.

  • Start over and clean it then re-season. My cast iron hasn't seen water in at least a decade maybe two. The trick is to clean right after you remove food from the pan or at least right after dinner when the pan is still warm. If on a camping trip, I just place in the fire then wipe out.

  • Hi Tasha - This is a great tutorial on how to clean, season, and care for cast iron skillets. Hope it helps! Hugs, Holly

  • Hi Tasha - This is a great tutorial on how to clean, season, and care for cast iron skillets. Hope it helps! Hugs, Holly

  • Kay Kay on Dec 24, 2018

    Tasha, a wonderful choice to use your cast iron! Self cleaning ovens are a great way to go, but I've even used the good old fashioned camp fire. Steel wool will remove the stubborn bits. Seasoning can actually take a bit of time but once done should last a lifetime. Please don't use vegetable or olive oils! I always use bacon fat. Watch for sales and buy the fattiest bacon you can find. I line a cookie sheet with foil and then bake you bacon slices at 400 deg for about 15 minutes or a bit longer. Remove bacon and use for recipes. After cooling the drippings for a bit pour into a pre-warmed glass jar. Cover and refrigerate and use when ever you cook in your cast iron. I have never had a jar of bacon drippings turn rancid; have used this method for over 50 years. A bit of extra bacon drippings in the pan when cooking breakfast will make everything taste wonderful, and your house smell heavenly. When you use pans just wipe clean with of "cloth" square and toss it away. I prefer old cotton t-shirts. Never use paper towels as they leave a bit of fiber behind and will make your pans rough to the touch. If food does stick (scrambled eggs) just rinse with warm water and clean with a scrubby. Put back on your burner and heat enough to melt a teaspoon of bacon drippings. Let cool naturally on the stove top and wipe lightly with one of your cloth squares. I keep a small container of these 3" X 3" squares in the cupboard to use every time I cook in my cast iron. Because they're so handsome my three favorite pans are always on top of stove. When making baked goods like cornbread melt a bit of bacon fat in your pan in the oven, then pour your batter in. Delicious!

    • Oh Kay! My grandmother's and parents used to do this! Nothing like rye toast with bacon drippings slathered all over the top . . .

      My diet is much different, I can probably count how many times a year I actually use bacon.

      Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  • Kay Kay on Dec 25, 2018

    You're welcome. Do plan on passing your pans on to other friends and family. They truly are ageless. Haven't bought a "new" pan in over 50 years but am always checking flea markets and thrift shops. Lodge is the best affordable American made cast iron, and still being made. Wagner is very desirable but a bit more pricey. There are wonderful European made pans out there but not in my budget.