How to Restore, Clean and Maintain Your Cast Iron Skillet

If you own a cast iron skillet that is rusty or has seen better days--there is always hope! Did you know that virtually any cast iron skillet is never past the point of no return. These pans can be reseasoned and used for generations! It is always fun to read comments from articles about cast iron pans because people always have really cool stories like, “I was given my great-grandmother’s cast iron skillet and it is still working beautifully!”, or “My cast iron skillet has been in the family for 150 years!”. These pans can truly last a lifetime when taken care of properly. And if they aren’t, per se, and get rusted (like mine was), it is quite easy to restore and reseason them so do not fret, my friends, you can get her back to her former glory in about an hour!

I got some tips, mainly from a YouTube video from Chef Billy Parisi as well as from a few articles from, and I can attest that it is really easy and it works! The middle of my pan has gotten a bit rusty, as you can see pictured above--I thought I was thoroughly drying it enough, but clearly I wasn’t. I was able to remedy this easily, remove the rust and reseason the pan and it is now ready for all the amazing steaks, caramelized onions and desserts I can dream of. 

My favorite tip I learned that I will do from now on is after cleaning and rinsing the pan, and thoroughly drying, you pop it on the stovetop for 30-45 seconds on high heat to really dry the pan all the way out. Brilliant!

Here is the full list of tips on how to remove rust to restore the pan, season the pan, and maintain the pan to last for generations.

What You Will Need:

  • 1 cast iron skillet
  • 1 brillo pad 
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • non-abrasive scour pad with 2 tablespoons of salt or soft bristle cleaning brush

To Restore Your Cast Iron Skillet: 

1. Scrub thoroughly under hot water using a brillo pad or non-abrasive scrubber and 2 tablespoons of salt on all sides to remove all rust spots. (*Alternatively, if you are feeling a little cheeky that day, you can also use a halved potato, some oil, and coarse salt to scrub the pan. This is what I did and it worked beautifully. I don’t necessarily think this is the best way to go, but it’s definitely a thing and has probably been done for centuries. A potato makes a great gentle scrubber when paired with the salt and oil.)

2. Rinse very thoroughly, especially if you used any soap, like in an S.O.S. Brillo pad. Dry thoroughly using a kitchen towel and set it on a stovetop burner on high heat for about 30-45 seconds to get it completely dry.

To Season Your Pan:

1. After your pan is completely dry, Generously rub 3 tablespoons of oil into both sides of the pan using a paper towel.

2. Next, use a separate paper towel to remove any excess left on oil.

3.  Place upside down in the middle of your oven rack at 500° for 1 hour.  Store or use.

To Maintain the Seasoning of Your Pan: 

1. After using the skillet to cook, scrub with hot water using a non-abrasive scour pad with 2 tablespoons of salt or a soft bristle cleaning brush to remove all unwanted stuck on food particles.

2. Dry thoroughly using a kitchen towel (very well!) and/or place on a stovetop burner on high heat for 30-45 seconds to really dry out the pan.

3. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and rub into the pan on both sides.  

4. Place in the oven on the middle rack at 500° or over a burner on high heat until it reaches the oil smoking point.  You do this so the oil does not spoil. 

5. Cool and store.

I clearly have scrubbed quite a lot of the seasoned part out of the middle of my pan, so it needs the thorough re-seasoning. You can repeat the process two or three more times to really give it a nice solid layer of “seasoning”. Of course, the more you use it to cook things and with proper care and storage after, it will continue seasoning naturally on its own. There is a dessert recipe I can’t wait to try and share with you soon! Think along the lines of a particular cookie dessert that BJ’s restaurant is famous for serving and you just might guess what it is :)

Do you have any tips for the care and maintenance of cast iron skillets? Do you have one that is really old or passed down from a family member? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 


    Mary Richardson
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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