Cleaning a cast iron skillet requires a specific approach to maintain its seasoning and prevent rust. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
1. Allow the skillet to cool:
After cooking, let the cast iron skillet cool down completely before starting the cleaning process.
2. Rinse with hot water:
Rinse the skillet with hot water. Avoid using soap or abrasive scrubbers, as they can strip away the seasoning.
3. Gently scrub with a brush or sponge:
Use a soft brush or sponge to scrub away any food residue. You can also use a nylon scraper or a non-metallic scrubber if needed. Avoid using steel wool or harsh cleaning tools that can damage the seasoning.
4. Dry the skillet:
Thoroughly dry the skillet with a clean towel or by placing it on a low heat burner for a few minutes. Ensure that it is completely dry to prevent rusting.
5. Apply a thin layer of oil:
Once dry, apply a thin layer of cooking oil or a specialized cast iron oil to the entire skillet, including the cooking surface, handle, and exterior. Use a paper towel to spread the oil evenly and remove any excess.
6. Heat the skillet:
Place the skillet upside down in an oven preheated to around 350°F (175°C) for about an hour. This process, known as “seasoning,” helps to create a non-stick surface and maintain the skillet’s condition.
7. Store properly:
After the skillet has cooled, store it in a dry place to prevent moisture buildup and rusting. You can stack it with other pans, but it’s best to separate them with paper towels or cloth to avoid scratching the seasoning.
Regular maintenance and seasoning will help keep your cast iron skillet in excellent condition. If food sticks to the skillet, you can repeat the cleaning process or use a small amount of coarse salt as a gentle abrasive while scrubbing.