How to Clean Cast Iron Pans

How to clean cast iron without ruining the patina?

We love cooking with cast iron, it’s consistent, reliable and cooks evenly, and that’s because of the patina. Wash that off and you’ve lost the magic of cooking with cast iron. But what about when we bake something in it or make rice, or meat, or any number of foods that get stuck on. Cast iron is fabulous for cooking everything. And we mean everything including scrambled eggs. Yep. We said it, scrambled eggs in cast iron. You just have to know how to do it and you have to know how to clean cast iron pans properly, whether or not you’re going to level up and cook eggs in them.

how to clean cast iron pan with eggs in it

The dos and don’ts of cleaning cast iron basically follow variations on just one rule: No soap and very little water.

The DONTs of cleaning cast iron:

  • Do not soak your cast iron in water.

  • Soap is not your cast iron’s friend.

  • Taking cast iron from a very hot stove or oven and running it under very cold water can crack it.

Other than that, it’s hard to get into trouble cleaning your cast iron pans. They’re pretty indestructible.


The DOs of cleaning cast iron:


  • Use water to clean your pan sparingly. Cast iron pans can go a long time without seeing a drop of water if you know how to clean them properly.
  • Salt. Pour a generous amount of salt in your gooey cast iron pan and use a paper towel to grind the salt around and scrub all the bits out. You may need to reapply salt and you may need more than one paper towel. Rinse sparingly with water in between applications of salt if need be, but if you can get everything out with a paper towel, it’s better.
  • If you have something stuck on, fill your pan with about a quarter inch of water and bring it to a boil, scraping the bottom and sides of your cast iron pan with a metal spatula. When all the gunk is scraped clean, let the water cool and toss it out. Use salt if any goo remains.
  • Use a scrubber made just for cast iron. You can use these with salt just like the paper towel, but these work better under running water, so this is our last choice in cleaning cast iron.


Cast iron is, well, iron, so it will rust if it gets and stays wet. If you do wash them in water, make sure they are dry before putting them away and they should last you another lifetime – long enough to pass down to your own grandchildren.


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