The Best Way to Clean Cast Iron (Stainless Steel & Glassware, too!)

Clean Cast Iron | Roots & Boots

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Keeping my cast iron pots and pans clean seemed like a major chore until I discovered an amazing solution.  It really is the best way to clean cast iron, and stainless steel and glassware, too!


What is the best way to clean cast iron?

My family is convinced that cooking with cast iron produces the tastiest food.  We use Lodge cast iron to scramble eggs, brown meat, sauté veggies, cook soup, and more.

One potential downside to cast iron is that keeping it clean can be intimidating.  Most cast iron experts advise against using soaps, cleaners, and even water, to clean cast iron.

The beauty of cast iron is that, over time, the cooking process seasons the pan and creates a nonstick surface.  Adding soaps, cleaners, or water, can strip away that beautiful seasoning and turn cooking with cast iron into a headache.

Clean Cast Iron | Roots & Boots
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How to clean a messy cast iron pot without soap or water

If you’ve shied away from cast iron because of the whole how-to-keep-it-clean thing, you’re going to love The Ringer.  It’s my secret weapon for cast iron!

The Ringer is a simple but brilliant chain mail scrubber.  It really is the best way to clean cast iron, and also stainless steel and glassware.

Small, identical stainless steel rings join together to form a piece of chain mail which is somehow perfect for removing food from cast iron without damaging the seasoned finish.

No more scrubbing away at stuck-on food until your arm feels like it’s about to fall off!  I’ve used The Ringer chain mail scrubber for years and am always amazed (and grateful!) at how effectively it removes cooked-on and even burned-on food from my pots and pans.

Table salt is helpful, too: I keep a box under the kitchen sink and sprinkle it on to help loosen food debris and to dry up wet foods left behind in my cast iron pans.

The Best Way to Clean Cast Iron

Here’s my step-by-step process:

  1. Use a cast iron scraper, silicone spatula, or some sort of kitchen tool to scrape away as much food as possible.
  2. If the remaining food is wet and messy, sprinkle coarse table salt into the pan.  If the leftover food in your pan is dry, you can skip this step.
    Clean Cast Iron | Roots & Boots
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  3. Use The Ringer to scrub the pan clean. 
    Clean Cast Iron | Roots & Boots
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  4. Dump out the clumps of salt and food. 
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  5. Use a dark rag or kitchen cloth to wipe out the pan, whisking away any remaining pieces of salt. 
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  6. That’s it!  Your pan is now clean.  Put it away, rinse out The Ringer, and hang it to dry.

This same process works for stainless steel and glassware, too.

When cleaning cast iron, I do not use water.  For stainless steel cookware and glass baking dishes, I do use water and sometimes add Lemon oil plus table salt for extra scrubbing power.

Either way, The Ringer is the hero of my kitchen sink!  I can’t imagine doing dishes without it.  In my experience, it really is the best way to clean cast iron, plus stainless steel and glassware too.

Update: we also like these nifty scrapers for keeping cast iron clean.  First we use the scrapers to remove big pieces of food, then the Ringer to scour off the last stubborn bits.

A few tips for using The Ringer:

  • Try to keep it flat when scrubbing.  Start by spreading it out in the bottom of the pan, then “swish” it with your fingers, and “swish” it up the sides, too.
  • Try to avoid bunching it up when scrubbing.
  • The Ringer is dishwasher safe!  I usually just rinse mine with scalding hot water, but you can toss it in the dishwasher after every use if you like.
  • Be aware that it can scratch shiny stainless steel like baking sheets.  It’s always best to test a small area before going hog wild all over a pan or baking sheet.

Looking to swap out your cookware, bakeware, or food storage containers for nontoxic versions?  These are my favorites:

Do you cook with cast iron?  How do you keep it clean?  Have you tried The Ringer?




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Kathleen | Roots & Boots

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>

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