See how to clean a cast iron griddle the easy way, using just salt, water, and oil. This is the best way to clean skillets, pans, and stove grates too! Remove burnt on food, clean rust, and season cast iron with this easy method.
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How to Clean Cast Iron Griddle: Introduction
I'll be the first to admit: I'm not a big fan of things that have to be hand-washed. I'm way too dependent on a dishwasher. But there are a few select items items in my home that will be put in a dishwasher over. my. dead. body. My cast iron is in that collection. (As is my beloved Le Creuset dutch oven...but that's about it.)
I have both a cast iron skillet and the Lodge cast iron flat-top griddle you see above. (I highly recommend this. It sits on our gas stove all the time and we seriously use it everyday!) I don't show my cast iron skillet in this blog post, but the cleaning process for it is basically identical to how I clean the cast iron griddle.
The process is the best way to clean cast iron pans and cast iron stove grates too. You can really use this on any kind of cooking surface that's made of cast iron. I know that flat-top cast iron grills like Blackstone grills are really popular right now. Yes, you can use this basic tutorial to clean and season those as well. Obviously you can't put those under water in a sink, but scrub, wash, and season your cast-iron cooktop as closely as you safely can to this method for a durable cooktop that will be useful for years and years.
Why is cast iron so special?
Yes, cast iron skillets and griddle plates are very high maintenance. But yes, they're worth it. When washed and seasoned correctly, cast iron will develop a "shell" over the outside surface that makes it one of the most durable pieces of cookware around. This shell also gives cast iron a non-stick surface over time. When cared for properly, cast iron pans and skillets can literally last for generations.
If you've ever cooked with cast iron, you know that it can reach high heat better than just about any other cooking surface you'll find. It's my go-to surface for grilling steaks, veggies, or eggs indoors. A cast iron skillet can also be used on the stove and transferred to the oven, making stovetop dinners and skillet casseroles really easy! Overall, it's just a super versatile and unique piece of cookware that I think every kitchen should have. You just have to know how to treat it.
How to Clean a Cast Iron Griddle
The Big Rule to Remember
The number one rule to remember when cleaning/caring for cast iron is that water is the enemy. Of course you have to use water to clean. However, you'll want to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Water leads to rust on cast iron, which can damage the cast iron and make it difficult to salvage.
Step 1: The First Wash
Once you've cooked with your cast iron and made it all dirty, you will want to put in the sink to give it a good wash-down. This will get all of the initial burnt-on food off of your cookware. Using hot water (which helps break down gunk and grease), wash it off, then...
...give it a quick scrub with a little bit of elbow grease. I absolutely love Scour Daddies for this (and for general everyday cleaning, for that matter - these are the best sponges!).
If you don't have a scour daddy, just make sure to use a scrubber or brush that isn't too harsh. You want to be able to get the stuck-on food off of your griddle without stripping any seasoning. Something like steel wool absolutely isn't appropriate for this step (but could be used if removing rust - see the bottom of the post for that note.)
Most people will not recommend using any kind of even mild dish soap on cast iron, but funny story - I actually had the actual Lodge Tik Tok account comment on my video tutorial about this a few months ago. Take a look at the comments...
So, straight from the horse's mouth - you can use soapy water if you really want. Just make sure the soap you're using doesn't include any harsh ingredients (like lye or vinegar) before you use it.
Step 2: Salt It Down
Once you finish the quick first scrub with hot water, no need to wipe down the cast iron just yet...you'll need that water for now! Pull out the absolute best cleaning tool you can use on cast iron:
Plain old coarse kosher salt. I keep a big box of coarse salt under my sink just for cleaning and scrubbing tough messes, including all of my cast iron cookware. It's perfect for keeping cast iron skillets and griddles clean.
Sprinkle your (still wet) cast iron griddle down with the coarse salt and scrub it in really well with your non-abrasive scrubber.
Again, the Scour Daddy is perfect for this! Make sure to get into the corners of your cookware. Those edges are notorious for holding onto baked-on food.
Step 3: Rinse and Heat
Rinse the remaining salt off of the griddle and give it a quick wash with warm water. Once you wash it down and all of the salt is gone, do not let it sit in the sink. Instead, take it right back to the gas stovetop.
You'll want to get the water off of the cast iron as quickly as possible. Remember: water is the enemy of cast iron. The most effective way to do this is the put some heat under it to evaporate and moisture off. I turn the heat to medium on our gas stove for maybe 5-10 minutes, just enough to evaporate all of the water. Don't forget about it though!
If you don't have a gas stove, you can also evaporate the water off of your cast iron by placing it in a 350 degree oven on the top rack for a few minutes.
Once you turn the stovetop or oven off, allow the cast iron to cool before moving on to the next step.
Step 4: Season the Cast Iron
This is a step you're going to want to do each and every time you clean your cast iron griddle. Once it is dry and cools off, it's going to look a little funky and dry - almost like it's damaged. No worries! Some of that is leftover salt (totally normal) and some of that might be a little bit of dryness from the cleaning process. This is where you want to season your cast iron well.
At this point, put a thin layer of oil over the top of the griddle to season it. This will eventually help your cast iron to not only look glossy, but cook into a non-stick surface.
You can use any kind of cooking oil you would like to for seasoning your cast iron. I use olive oil to do this, but really any cooking oil works (vegetable oil, canola oil, coconut oil, butter, etc.). Excess oil really isn't needed, you'll just need enough to properly cover your grill pan or skillet. Just pour a tablespoon or two and buff it in in with a paper towel. If you have a cast iron skillet, make sure to get the outside and handles of the skillet too!
Step 5: Bake it Again
Finally, you're going to heat the cast iron griddle again. This is what's going to season your cast iron. Without going into too much detail, heating the fat on the cast iron will give it a tough covering that makes it non-stick and super durable.
I choose to do this on the gas stove top. You can also literally bake your cast iron in the oven for 30 minutes or so at 350 degrees. Baking in the oven is especially useful for non-flat cast iron, like a cast iron skillet. You just want to make sure every surface of your cookware gets very hot. Then, let your hot pan cool before the next use.
See? Nothing to it! I feel like cast iron is such an intimidating piece of cookware, but I promise - if you learn how to care for it, it will become on of your favorite things to use in the kitchen.
A Note About Rust on a Cast Iron Griddle
I didn't have any rust on my cast iron grill pan in this particular tutorial, but it does happen. Sometimes you might let water sit on cast iron for too long or neglect to season a piece of cast iron cookware. It is damaged at that point, but it is fixable!
If your cast iron skillet or griddle develops rust, simply spray the rust with vinegar and use a harsh scrubber like steel wool to buff out the rust. If it's just a small bit of rust on a piece of cookware you use often, it will probably only be on the surface. That kind of rust is pretty easy to remove. (Rust that has gotten into the actual cast iron is another story and much more complicated to remove.) Once the surface rust is gone, start from the beginning of this tutorial to properly clean and season your cast iron.
Thanks for stopping by today! You can catch up on the rest of the Cleaning 101 series by using the links below.
- How to Clean a Dishwasher
- How to Clean a Mattress
- How to Clean Upholstered Chairs
- How to Clean an Oven
Do you have any great tips or tricks for how to clean cast iron? I'd love to hear them in the comment section below!