Asked on Oct 28, 2017

How to clean years of baked on grease from iron skillet

by Gale

It must be 100 yrs old, the perfect size for a family of two. Was my grandmother's. Would like to keep it in the family. How do I clean the cast iron skillet?

  14 answers
  • Roxaneg Roxaneg on Oct 28, 2017

    You can also pop the skillet into the oven as it's going through its self-cleaning cycle. Use a scouring pad to remove any residue and re-season.

    You can also try to use salt as the scrub: heat the pan on the fire, remove and scrub with coarse salt and Chore Boy stainless steel scrubber.

  • Barbara Barbara on Oct 28, 2017
    Try a little oven cleaner. I used a claaeaner in a blue spray bottle but it seems the take all good products off of the market. Was also great for cleaning around gas burners on your stove.

  • Jeanne Johnson Ortego Jeanne Johnson Ortego on Oct 28, 2017
    Is the skillet cast iron? We cherish those, and call that baked on grease "seasoned." Is it scaling or falling off? You can scrub with sand, either dry or damp. Treat it like soapstone, no soap or immersion in water. I clean mine mostly with baking soda & a fine mist of water or a damp paper towel & baking soda.

  • Janie Dixon Spivey Janie Dixon Spivey on Oct 28, 2017
    My husband was burning brush so I had him throw my in the fire and left it till the fire was out and cool.

  • Lin30487935 Lin30487935 on Oct 28, 2017
    I've heard that you throw them in a camp fire or fire pit to clean off all of that "seasoning" . However, if you don't re-season, everything you try to cook will stick and burn.

  • Pauline Paquin Pauline Paquin on Oct 28, 2017
    Try a little glass stove cleaner

  • Yay! So happy you want to keep it! Here is a link. Enjoy it for another hundred years!

  • Lori Durdle Millard Lori Durdle Millard on Oct 28, 2017
    I just finished cleaning up two cast iron skillets. Spray heavily with oven cleaner and put in plastic garbage bag for a few days. The oven cleaner needs to stay wet. Then take it in and use steel wool to finish the cleaning process. if you Still have heavily build up of grease, spray it again. Then you need to reseason. Heat your pan up in oven, its a more uniform heat than on stove. I use crisco to season it but I also read once to use flax oil and that worked great too. It takes several times of cooking and reseasoning to get it where it won’t stick, but at least it’s all your food and not 100 years of someone else’s.

  • TDL Anna TDL Anna on Oct 28, 2017
    Be careful with any type of cleaning product, as cast iron is porous. In our family the way to make it clean and not loose the seasoning is to place it in fire and let the fire burn off the old grease build up. Old time way was to place it in pile of leaves and then burn them. Myself, I just place them on the gas grill on med heat for about 20 minutes and then let it cool for about 2 hours. Wipe it down with a clean rag with about 2 TBS corn oil.

  • Fauxgal Fauxgal on Oct 28, 2017
    You can always have it sand blasted, and then re-season it.

  • 27524803 27524803 on Oct 28, 2017
    I did a google search on this and found several different ways to "take it back to new" is the source I used for the instructions.
    The method I chose to use is to put it opening down, on a rack, in my electric oven and run the self-clean cycle... put foil on the bottom to catch the ash.
    Once the pan is clean, you will need to "re-season" it BEFORE using it to cook in, otherwise every thing will stick and you will have to start over.
    I found that Crisco shortening worked best for this (all the oils I tried left the surface sticky).
    Give the pan a thin coating of oil (vegetable or soybean) or shortening, inside and out, using a paper towel or rag. Place it upside down on a rack in your oven and bake at 375-400 degrees for 45 minutes. NOTE: use aluminum foil or a cookie sheet to catch drips. Let the pan cool in the oven.
    The heat causes the oil or shortening to flow in to the cracks and crannies or the pan giving it a nice smooth coating.
    For best results, the seasoning process should be repeated 3-4 times (I did 4)
    Maintenance: After cooking, once the pan has cooled to a 'safe' handling temperature, clean with very hot tap water and a stiff brush, avoid using soap as it may remove the seasoning. Dry your pan with a towel and set on the stove with a burner on low for a few minutes to be sure it is completely dry. Then apply (inside and out)a very light coat of oil (veg, or soybean) or shortening, using a paper towel... then wipe out again with a clean paper towel to remove excess.
    A Few rules to live by using Cast Iron
    * Avoid using dish soap unless absolutely necessary... it can remove the seasoning... a good scraping, and scrubbing with a stiff brush and HOT water will get the job done.
    *NEVER let the pan sit and soak in the sink... water, wet, rust....start all over again.
    * Never let the pan sit with food in it, the moisture can penetrate the seasoning and cause the pan to rust.
    *Always make sure the pan is completely dry before storing it. and if you are stacking your cast iron pans, put something between them, paper towels will do.
    Some of my cast iron belonged to my Grandmother... and it is still cooking today..... without sticking.

    • See 2 previous
    • Donna Donna on Nov 02, 2020

      I wouldn't put foil in your oven with your iron skillet during self-cleaning cycle...I heard it could mess up your oven mechanisms instead just wipe up the ashes when done...but, thanks gonna try this one as my skillet is a little messed up...

  • Mercedes Snowden Mercedes Snowden on Apr 05, 2020

    Grandma's old skillet old built on grease on the bottom. How can I melt it off ? Please tell me

  • Dmholt4391 Dmholt4391 on Dec 31, 2021

    When I was a small child our coal heating stove had an isinglass window in the door. My young mother thought to clean her cast iron skillet with the built up black stuff on it by putting it in the stove. That probably would have worked fine if she'd checked on it sooner because when we looked in at it it was glowing red and broken in half. There was dismay on her sweet face. What are you gonna do??☺️ Heating is fine, just keep an eye on it. I bought one from goodwill and cleaned it up that way.