How To Clean a Carbon Steel Pan

Our Blue Carbon Steel Pan is a perfect hybrid of a cast iron skillet and a stainless steel frying pan, meaning it has cast iron’s heat retention, seasoning, and non-stick properties with the benefits of stainless steel’s heat control and cooking speed. And best of all, it’s lighter than cast iron, it seasons more quickly than cast iron, and it’s meant to get dirty. In fact, the more blackened and worn it gets, the better it performs.

However, like a cast iron pan, you have to be careful when cleaning your carbon steel pan. Water and soap will strip the pan of its seasoning and will hinder its nonstick properties. How do you keep your pan clean and perfectly seasoned and slick? Keeping reading!

Cleaning & Storing Carbon Steel 

We're sure you've taken the time to properly season your carbon steel pan and it would be a shame to undo all of the progress you've made by dunking the pan into water and scrubbing it clean. 

Here are the steps to clean your carbon steel pan

  1. When you finish cooking with your pan, gently wipe the pan clean with a paper towel or dishtowel. This will help collect any food remnants and absorb excess oil and fat.
  2. If you have food that's stuck or burnt to the pan's surface and its necessary to scrub, you'll need a little water to loosen the debris.  Do NOT use soap and do NOT use a soaking bath. VERY GENTLY scrub the residue off with a bristle brush or sponge (not a scouring pad) and use a SMALL amount of water. Water and moisture are the mortal enemies of carbon steel, so be careful!
  3. When you’re done washing off food residue, dry your pan and put it over medium heat on your stovetop. This will help dry out any water or moisture left on the surface of the pan.

If drying your pan causes the surface to get too dry and lose its slickness, you should re-season your pan. Read our article on re-seasoning carbon steel to learn how it's done. 

seasoned carbon steel pan on range

Once your pan is clean, you can store it alongside your other pans. If you live in a place with natural moisture (or don’t use your skillet often), apply a very thin coating of oil to the surface to prevent rusting before you put it away. Your pan should always have a slick and slightly oiled surface.

Need some inspiration on how to put this pan to use? Be sure to check out some of our favorite carbon steel recipes and learn how why carbon steel is a professional chef's secret weapon. 

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  • Made In Customer Support

    @Diane – We are direct-to-consumer, so you’ll only find our products on our site!
    @Kenny – We actually recommend the oven seasoning method. You can check it out in our blog “Need A Refresher? Here’s How To Season A Carbon Steel Pan”

  • Kenny

    I am brand new with carbon steel pans. I have had cast iron , but not happy with them. The carbon steel seems like a great replacement. But the seasoning is a bit hocus pocus to me. With the oil and salt and potato skins. I thought is there another way. I tried baking powder and oil. I heated the pan up and carefully rubbed and cleaned the surface. What do you think of this? Am i just postponing using the potato skin method?

  • William

    We have 2 concerns w carbon steel cleaning: 1) like cast iron, food flavors get transferred. No matter how much we clean & re-season, we still taste beef in our fish, and vice-versa. 2) Pots scratch our porcelain sink. Not a fan of the sink, but I’m not changing it. We want to consider carbon steel because we don’t want to cook w chemicals, but we want something we can put in the dishwasher — again, that’s chemical free!

  • Mindy

    I love my new carbon steel pan! Used MI wax to season and was slick as could be after first process. I love everything about this pan: high sides, comfortable handle, well balanced, MUCH easier to handle than my similar sized cast iron pan. I have the 12” MI nonstick (which I also love) and needed to replace a smaller nonstick in my collection. Decided to go with the 10” carbon steel instead of another nonstick and I am certain I made the right choice. One little tip-when using my cast iron pans, if I had a little food residue left after cooking, I’d throw in a small handful of coarse salt to use along with a paper towel to “scrub” the pan. The salt is easy to discard in the trash with the paper towel and no worries about excess moisture since no water is used!

  • John Mattson

    The chef who taught me most of what I know preached cleaning with oil and salt. Salt is a great abrasive, but will not scratch being much softer than steel or iron. It removes anything baked on, but might require some effort. And it sanitizes.

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