How to Clean and Re-Season a Cast Iron Skillet

If you’ve ever wondered how to clean and season your cast iron skillet this simple tutorial has the answers to your questions! An easy, step-by-step tutorial with photos.

Last month I acquired some great pieces of cast iron cookware. I traded the old yellowish-green stove that came in the house for the two larger pieces and my uncle gave me the two smaller pieces while I was in Indiana for Grandpa’s funeral (both pieces were Grandpa’s!). I own one other dutch oven that I got at a thrift store for $15 and I’ve been on the hunt for more for a few years. It was crazy that within a few weeks I had just about all the cast iron I could want (I still dream of 2 more specific pieces). All four pieces were older and needed some maintenance, so I thought I’d share how to clean and reseason cast iron with you.

First off, let’s start with my two-cents on why cast iron is something everyone should own. It is awesome!

I blogged about my hate of Teflon a few years ago. The stuff is nasty and has no business being near your food.

*side tangent* I just read an article in Mother Earth News about not using “heavy duty” light bulbs in your chicken coop (or any other poultry/fowl housing). The bulbs are coated in Teflon to make them shatter-resistant. The Teflon on the bulb, when heated via a turned on light bulb, actually killed multiple chickens for lots of different people! Teflon releases crazy chemicals when heated that kill birds! If you can’t tell, this is a total soapbox for me, but knowledge is power in my opinion. If it kills chickens, it can’t be good for you to cook with…

So now that you don’t want Teflon or “nonstick” pans, you don’t have a lot of options left when it comes to cooking and baking. Stoneware, stainless steel, and cast iron are some of your best choices.

Cast iron is awesome because it is nonstick by nature, is very durable, and holds heat evenly and super well. It is a great option for frying foods because it keeps the oil heated evenly and consistently (if you are going to fry something, I’d make these donuts). I also love that you can start on the stove-top and move it into the oven. I like to get the cast iron skillet really hot, sear my chicken legs on all sides, and then add whatever (BBQ, lemon…) and have them finish cooking in the oven. Cast iron cookware has been around for hundreds of years and is making a big comeback! Get on the trendy wagon and get some of your own.

Chances are good that you’ll buy old or used pieces, dig some out of your grandma’s shed, or find some cast iron treasure at a yard sale. You definitely need to know how to clean and reseason cast iron before use.

If you've ever wondered how to clean and season your cast iron skillet this simple tutorial has the answers to your questions! An easy, step-by-step tutorial with photos.

How to Clean and Season Cast Iron

1. Get your hands on some beautiful cast iron pieces:
cast iron cookware, how to reseason cast iron, how to clean cast iron

2. Wash them in hot soapy water. If they are rusty or coarse use a copper or untreated steel wool pad to really scrub them. You can scrub inside and out. The goal is to remove any old oil, sticky spots, or general “crud”. Don’t fear the scrub, because reseasoning cast iron is next.  Rinse very well and then dry with paper towels.
cast iron how to clean, how to reseaon cast iron

3. Evenly coat the inside and outside of the pan with vegetable oil using a paper towel.
cast iron how to clean, how to reseason cast iron, cast iron cookware

4. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and place the pan upside down in the hot oven. You can line the bottom of the oven with foil to catch any oil drips if you like. Let the pan bake for one hour. Expect it to be pretty smoky. 🙂 After one hour, turn off the oven and let the pan stay in the warm oven until it has cooled (that will take a few hours).
cast iron how to reseason, reseason cast iron in the oven, how to reseason cast iron, how to clean cast iron, clean cast iron

5. Your cast iron is now clean, seasoned and ready to use.
cast iron love, how to reseason cast iron, how to clean cast iron

You do this long procedure if you are really deep cleaning your pans. You want to do this if you are buying old pans or if you haven’t used your pan in a few years. The leftover oil in the pores goes rancid after a while and will make your food taste nasty, even if it isn’t rusty looking. If it smells bad then you should do this.

For general cleaning I like to use hot water and a scraper (I have a little plastic scraper that came with my pizza stone and I use it all of the time on my cast iron) or a copper scrubber or untreated steel wool pad. I know people will tell you to NEVER use soap on your cast iron, but I definitely do. When I have used the pan to fry or had really greasy chicken legs cooking in it, I will use a drop of dish soap to cut the grease and it works great. Just be sure to rinse well. I towel dry my pans and will rub them with a bit of oil if they are starting to look dull in color (maybe once a month/every 3 months). They are really low maintenance once you do your initial deep clean.

Info/method from Woman’s Day

There you have it! My love of cast iron, why Teflon is awful, and how to clean and reseason cast iron. I’m planning my future kitchen so that I can hang and showcase all of my cast iron pieces because they are just so pretty!

Check out these yummy recipes using a Cast Iron skillet:

Happy cooking, from my kitchen to yours!

How to Clean and Reseason Cast Iron
cast iron collage, how to clean cast iron, how to reseason cast iron

Subscribers get access to Dinner Made Easy meal plans, exclusive recipes, giveaways, and behind-the-scenes updates​! Sign up for my newsletter or get a new recipe every day.


Subscribe Now

Share Your Comments

Want to share a photo of what you’ve made? Be sure to register or log in and then click the camera icon camera icon located at the bottom of the comment area.

36
Share a Comment

avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Alexander Jacques Sabucido

Important tips in this post as to how we can clean our cast irons. Thanks for letting us know, this would surely be a huge help.

Jeanette

Can I use my self cleaning oven to put get rusted cast iron skillet clean? I don’t want alot of smoke and what is the confusion about using soapy water to clean them? My grill isn’t working and they have been on the outside grill all summer long.

Harveen Delello
Harveen Delello

The directions are so simple. The steel wool sounds perfect to clean with. Glad to hear that a few drops of Dawn is used. The baking 1hr seems like that’s the secret. Thanks

Deenie Reynolds

My grandmother left me a few pans and deep pans haven’t used them but they need a good cleaning when she cooked she used a coal burning stove her food always tasted great…..

Denise Albertelli
Denise Albertelli

How do you clean the outside? mine has years of crud on it

Mary Jackman
Mary Jackman

Yeah, vegetable oils just leave it sticky – no matter how many paper towels are used. Then 1 use and back to rust and lingering greasy film. Can’t find ANYONE to give me the secret of that great pan of my now deceased Mother. I have bought new ones and old ones; after EVERY use, am left with a heavy, greasy mess that, if cleaned with soapy water, leaves me with a rust bucket but not greasy. If cleaned with a wire brush and scalding hot water – still a greasy mess. Am DONE!

April Waller
April Waller

I love my cast Iron and yes! I wash mine too and I also hang my on my wall.

Danielle
Danielle

Hi, I am new to cast iron cookware, but am excited to start using mine!! I just got a brand new one for my wedding (yay!) do I need to do anything before I use it for the first time?? Does it come seasoned, or do I need to do the oil process first?

alan
alan

I would never use soap on my cast iron i wash it by boiling bunches of grass and rubbing it around to remove any food residues and grease then oil and heat to dry

Sharon

So right about Teflon, bought a sheet you put on bottom of your
Oven (from TJMaxx) my bird died the first time I used the oven after
Putting that sheet in…. Wasn’t labeled Teflon but it was… So be careful!

Evelynn Taylor
Evelynn Taylor

Yes, I love mine to! I never thought of putting them in the oven. My mama always did it on the stove top. I am going to put them in the oven tonight after supper. In also going to do it with the kids so the learn a new way of doing it! Thanks for sharing your way.

Becky James
Becky James

I seasoned my cast iron skillet as instructed, but after it cooled it felt sticky. What did I do wrong.

Becky

Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.