How to Clean Carbon Steel Pans and Skillets Properly

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Cleaning your Carbon Steel Cookware can be intimidating, so we put together this guide to help you do it in no time.

By Team Made In
Jan 19, 2021
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Carbon Steel Cookware is one of our favorite materials to cook with. Like cast iron pans and cast iron skillets, the more you cook with them, the more nonstick qualities they acquire. While seasoning is essential to using your Carbon Steel Cookware properly, it is important to know how to clean each piece without damaging that all-important seasoning. But don’t worry. If you follow the proper guidance and technique it’s really not all that difficult to do.

Here are four ways to properly and effectively clean your seasoned Carbon Steel Pans. And take note, when you go to clean your Carbon Steel Pan, we do not recommend ever putting it in the dishwasher, or using soap and water to wash it.

Method One: Wipe Your Pan Out

Yes, it is this easy to wash your pan if it has been seasoned and used properly. Use a paper towel or a kitchen towel to wipe out any excess oil from your pan, and thanks to the patina it has developed, it should look as good as new in practically no time. However, for more stubborn messes, progress to the following step.

Method Two: Coarse Salt and Oil

Add 2 tablespoons of coarse salt and 2 tablespoons of a neutral oil, such as canola oil, vegetable oil, or grapeseed oil, to your pan. Using a paper or kitchen towel, rub the salt and oil around the pan. The friction of the salt rubbing against the pan will free up any food bits. Dump the salt and oil and leftover food from the pan. If this doesn’t work, we have one more trick for you.

Method Three: Bring Water to a Boil

For any stuck on food that won’t come off the surface of your pan can be freed with this trick. Add a small amount of warm water, just enough water to cover the bottom of your pan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Once the pan has reached a boil, use a wooden or rubber spatula to scrape at the food bits. Once all the food is free from the surface of the pan, dump the water in the sink. Return your pan to the burner over medium heat to completely dry your pan in order to prevent rusting. Then, apply a thin layer of canola or grapeseed oil to the surface of the pan. Let the pan sit on the burner for one minute. Your pan is now clean and seasoned.

Method Four: Use Steel Wool

If none of this has worked so far, it’s time to break out the steel wool. We recommend gently scrubbing the areas of your pan containing stuck on food bits with steel wool to remove them. While this can cause superficial scratches, they will fill in the more you season and use your pan.

Now What?

If none of these work, don’t worry. You may have to strip and reseason your Carbon Steel Cookware. Here is a guide with all of the info you need to get it done in no time.

But if this worked for you, great. Now that you know how to clean your Carbon Steel Cookware, the next step is knowing how to properly season and cook with it.