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Aug 6, 2006 12:22 AM

How do you know cast iron is clean?

I bought a pre-seasoned cast iron grill pan (my first cast iron) and I'm having trouble cleaning it. I use hot water and a scrub brush but there always seems to be a layer of grease that doesn't come up. I know grease or oil is what seasons the pan but I feel like the pan's dirty because it's brown grease. After I've washed the pan should anything come off on my finger when I rub it? I'm sure I could get this grease off if I scrub enough but I don't want to scrub the seasoning off. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Just heat it on the stove, you'll ruin it with all that scrubbing. Get it real smoking hot and that will kill any bacteria.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ida Red

      Clean it this way: hot water and gentle soap (bot detergent - it can be absorbed) - soak an hour then use a plastic or nylon scrubbie. Rinse well with hot water and dry thoroughly. Place on a low flame for a few minutes to comlete the drying. Rub with a clean, lint-free cotton or paper towel and a neutral oil such as grapeseed. At this point, you should not see any dirt on the cloth. If you still see dirt, repeat the process. The best way to keep your pan clean is to do this every time you use it. Never soak cast iron longer than an hour you could develop rust or the patina could start to come off. Personally, I prefer to get old cast iron with the patina established - at garage sales and thrift stores. That new Lodge Logic pre-seasoned has a weird surface.

    2. Wash with soap and water using a soft sponge or non-abrasive scrubber. Soap will take off any surface grease without damage to the surface. Don't scrub with anything more abrasive.

      3 Replies
      1. re: cheryl_h

        I've had good luck cleaning stubborn stuff out of my cast iron pan by filling it with a couple of inches of water, putting it on to boil, then dumping the water out and giving any remnants a swish from my dish brush. Stubborn stuck on stuff gets a little salt and hand scrubbing with a paper towel. No soap. I periodically do what Ida Red suggests and put it on the stove for a good empty heating, especially after I've cooked raw meats in it. It's now a few years old and is the most beautiful black, and things rarely stick.

        1. re: cheryl_h

          I use soap and water too, always have and always will. After washng I heat gently to evaporate any water then wipe and put away. None of my skillets or cornstick pans have suffered from this and some are over 30 years old.

          1. re: Candy

            I never use soap on my cast iron. Hot, hot, hot water and a good scrubbing followed by drying over a gas flame.

        2. i use my cast iron skillet mainly for corn bread but then i just wipe it out with a paper towel. Even if i do saute stuff in it I would not use soap and water. If you cure it well and then wipe it out and give it a little heat you be just fine. Don't fear the seaoned cast iron

          1. I sprinkle a moderate amount of Kosher salt in the pan and rub it around with a paper towel. The salt is gentle enough to act as a scrubber without ruining the seasoning of the pan, additionally it absorbs excess grease or what ever might be left over. I then give a quick rinse and throw it on the stove to dry it. I have been using this method for years and my pans have never had to be reseasoned.

            1. I see now we have a sharp division between the soap people and the water scrub/high heat people (with the salt meathod thrown in). I don't want to mess with anyone's tradition, but
              I'm still pushing my high heat meathod, it's kept my pans perfect all these years, is sanitary and most important, so easy.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ida Red

                I'm with you on the high heat and hot water...I only use soap when I cook fish, and I worry about the fish flavoring the next meal. Then it's dry over high, and wipe with peanut oil while the pores are still open...If it's eggs or something, I just wipe it out, no water at all...