Cleaning an iron skillet is quite simple, though certain precautions should be followed to ensure the cookware is not damaged or rusted by cleaning. Most iron cookware, including a skillet, should be cleaned soon after use, rather than allowing it to cool and sit before cleaning. It should be washed with hot water and a sponge or cloth; harsh abrasives and metal brushes should not be used and soap is also to be avoided. After cleaning an iron skillet, it should be dried right away, sometimes in a warm oven, and it can then be seasoned lightly with some oil before storing.
Proper seasoning before use and treatment during cooking can make cleaning an iron skillet quite simple. Any piece of cast iron cookware should typically go through a seasoning process, though some companies pre-season skillets prior to selling them. To season a skillet, coat it lightly in oil and then place it into a hot oven. After baking for an hour, the skillet will have an effective non-stick coating that can be maintained through further seasoning in the future.
Cleaning an iron skillet after cooking in it is quite simple, as long as it has been seasoned properly. In general, a piece of cast iron cookware can be cleaned by running hot water into it and scrubbing it with a soft sponge or a cloth. If any food is stuck to the cookware, then some coarse salt can be added to the water and the pan to loosen it. Scrubbing with this salt and water paste while cleaning an iron skillet should remove any food from its surface.
While cleaning an iron skillet, it is important to not submerge it fully in water, as this can make it rust, and long-term soaking must also be avoided. Soap should not be used on iron cookware, since this can wash away the seasoning on the skillet and remove its non-stick surface. Abrasive scrubbing pads and metal brushes can also cause this type of damage if used for cleaning an iron skillet, so they should be avoided. If soap or metal sponges are used, then the skillet can be seasoned and baked again to restore its finish.
After cleaning an iron skillet, it should be towel dried immediately. Allowing it to air dry may result in rusting. The skillet can be placed in a warm oven for a few minutes after toweling to ensure that it is dry. A small amount of oil can then be rubbed into the cookware before it is stored with a lid or paper towel on it to avoid dust buildup.