How to clean a cast iron pan – get rid of stains without removing years of seasoning

Cleaning hack: TikTok user shows how to clean grease from oven

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Cast iron is exceedingly difficult to clean, as it shouldn’t be washed in the sink, like other pans. Caring for a cast iron pan is something that most cooking pros take quite seriously, and there’s no doubt they are a pretty indestructible bit of cooking kit. Like anything valuable, you want to place enough care and consideration into managing the upkeep of all your cast iron cookware.

How to season a new cast iron pan

As tempting as it may be to just throw food straight into a cast iron skillet and get cooking, you shouldn’t.

Cast iron requires some care before you can start whipping up delicious dinners.

Seasoning the cookware creates a clean surface enabling you to evenly cook vegetables, meats and desserts.

In the olden days, cast iron was seasoned by adding fat onto the surface, and baking it onto the pan at very high temperatures. But these days, it’s done a bit differently.

So, to season your cast iron:

  • Wash your cookware with hot, soapy water (the only time you should do this) and dry thoroughly.
  • Using a cloth soaked in vegetable oil, rub the entire surface of the pan, including the outside.
  • Heat upside down in a 180C oven for one hour.
  • Turn off the oven and let the cast iron cool down completely in the hot oven before removing – and you’re ready to start cooking.

How to clean a cast iron pan without removing the seasoning

The longer you use your cast iron pan, the darker its colour will be.

A shiny black cast iron skillet is a sign that it’s well seasoned, adding natural flavour to your favourite dishes.

While food grease is a great way to build flavour in your meals, cleaning any residue is advised to prevent rust.

Most professionals warn against soaking cast iron in water, putting it in the dishwasher or scrubbing the pan with a metal scouring pads.

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Otherwise, you will have to restore the seasoning all over again, which is a waste of time as you’ve already done that.

To clean your pan, you should:

  • Wash your cookware with dish soap and a stiff bristled dish brush – but don’t soak it.
  • Take it back to the oven and turn on the stove for 30 seconds, or until the water starts to evaporate.
  • Once it’s dry, turn the heat off and rub a few drops of vegetable oil into the inner surface using a clean paper towel.
  • Once cooled down, put a paper plate or paper towel in the mouth of your skillet to absorb moisture, and store it away.

How to remove rust

Bringing a rusty cast iron skillet back to life is easier than you may think.

Rust is a result of a good job seasoning the pan, so it shouldn’t discourage you and you shouldn’t throw the pan away.

Profile rusting, the most common kind, can be removed by:

  • Using a non-metallic scrubber to remove the rust
  • Wash with a mild washing up liquid, rinse well, and dry with a clean towel
  • Re-season the surface by coating it with vegetable oil inside and on the outside.

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