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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

Best Way to Clean Cast Iron Griddle



Cast iron griddle on a marble background.
Get ready for breakfast with a clean griddle

There’s a lot of debate surrounding the best way to clean cast iron skillets. Do you use soap? Can you clean with oil? Should you even clean it at all?

Part of this debate stems from the fact that how you should clean your cast iron griddle depends on how dirty it is after you’ve cooked your meal. Read on to learn about the best ways to clean and care for your cast iron griddle, and never wonder again if you’re cleaning it the proper way.

The basics of cast iron

Cast iron is a heavy metal, and cast iron cookware is a great material to have in your kitchen. It holds heat well, browns meat beautifully, and is an effective, affordable alternative to stainless steel. It also usually comes “seasoned” with a coat of what basically amounts to fatty oil, which creates a nonstick surface perfect for cooking.

This Lodge cast iron griddle from Amazon
is reversible!

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Reversible Grill/Griddle With Handles, 20 Inch x 10.5 Inch - One tray

View on Amazon

One of the only downsides of cast iron cookware is that you have to be careful about how you clean and tend to it. Since it is iron, it is easily susceptible to rusting, which would make it unusable. You also can’t use any cleaning agents or materials that are too abrasive, as this can remove the seasoned surface. This could damage the non-stick properties and potentially ruin the food you cook.

When pancakes are made on the griddle you call them griddle cakes. And they taste that much better.
When pancakes are made on the griddle you call them griddle cakes. And they taste that much better.

Got some antique cast iron cookware?
I’ll show you how to restore it.

A little clean-up

If your skillet is just slightly dirty (i.e. just a few crumbs or residue), all you need to do is pour some oil into your skillet and wipe it down with a paper towel or dish rag. That’ll sufficiently clean it and leave it perfectly re-seasoned for your next cooking session.

Check out these great accessories for cast iron skillets.

A bigger mess

If you’ve got a mess that you would usually use soap and water for (i.e. some food caked onto the surface), it’s actually perfectly safe to use a gentle soap and non-scrubbing sponge on a cast iron skillet. Any mild kitchen soap won’t be strong enough to penetrate the seasoned surface. It’s safe to use to get a small mess off of your griddle.

These Norpro sponges from Amazon don’t have an abrasive side.
Perfect for cast iron.

Norpro Natural Sponges Pop-Up 12 Piece New Handy For Kitchen Drawer Glove Box

View on Amazon

The real threat of using this kind of cleaning method is actually the water. Use warm or hot water to clean, but make sure to dry very well in order to avoid rusting. A trick for getting your cast iron griddle as dry as possible is to put it back over a low flame for a few minutes to evaporate any leftover moisture. Also be sure to store your cast iron griddle in a dry, open place if possible.

Hang your cast iron skillets on this Kinetic wrought iron pot rack from Amazon.

Kinetic Pot, Black with Silver Rack

View on Amazon

Stuck-on food

If you have a huge mess on your hands, like burned on food residue, you may need to do a little dry scrubbing. You can use a safe, gentle, food-based abrasive material such as coarse sea salt (Amazon) or cornmeal to clean your griddle. Sprinkle the abrasive into your cookware, then scrub away the residue with a paper towel. If needed, follow the soap and water instructions above, or just wipe down the griddle with a new coat of oil.

Post-cleaning care and maintenance

It’s very important to “re-season” your cast iron griddle after use. This basically means coating it with a new layer of oil that can polymerize and create a renewed nonstick surface. This step is really only necessary for the second or third scenarios described above, since cleaning it with oil in the first scenario takes care of the re-seasoning process.

These Neet bamboo utensils from Amazon are perfect for cast iron cooking.

Neet Wooden Spoons For Cooking 6 Piece Organic Bamboo Utensil Set With Holder Wood Kitchen Utensils Spatula Spoon For High Heat Stirring In Nonstick Pots & Pans Quality Gift & Everyday Use

View on Amazon

After drying your pan thoroughly, drop a bit of cooking oil into the pan and rub it into the cast iron cooking surface, making sure to rub out any spots that look particularly greasy. It should look like a brand new griddle after this imperative re-seasoning step. It’ll be ready to use again in no time!

Additional Resources

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Alexis DeAnda

Alexis DeAnda is a food fanatic, library card user, and cast iron hunter, in that order. She has been cooking for anyone that will taste it ever since her mom let her make doughnuts on Saturday mornings at the age of 7.

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