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How to Clean a Skillet: Cleaning Tips for Three Types of Pans

Bradford Malt|Apr 22, 2021

Your skillet's always there for you whether you're frying up steak and eggs for breakfast or gently toasting a Monte Cristo sandwich for lunch. Be sure to return the favor by taking proper care of your frying pan. To ensure a long, healthy relationship with your skillet, read its care instructions before you pop it into the dishwasher or take to it with a steel wool scouring pad.

How to Clean a Skillet (Non-Stick, Stainless Steel, and Carbon Steel)


Non-stick frying pans

 are coated with a material that prevents food from sticking. As a result, they're the easiest skillets to clean.

First, soak up any residual grease with a paper towel. Then allow your pan to cool slowly on the stove. This will prevent rapid temperature shifts that could damage the non-stick surface. Wash your pan in warm water with a soft dishrag and mild dishwashing liquid.

To maximize the lifespan of a non-stick pan, you should never put it in the dishwasher. Non-stick pans also should never be washed with abrasive materials like scouring pads or harsh detergents. Automatic dishwashers, scouring pads, and strong soaps can break down the non-stick surface, making it less effective after washing.

Stainless Steel

You could put a

stainless steel skillet

in the dishwasher without doing a ton of damage, but stainless clad pans stay looking the nicest when washed by hand. We recommend washing stainless clad pans in warm, soapy water with a non-abrasive sponge or dishcloth. 

The non-reactive surface of our stainless clad frying pans is designed to cook evenly and prevent burning, however, stains can still occur, like the common

rainbow discoloration

. If your stainless steel skillet ends up with burnt food stubbornly stuck to the cooking surface, we recommend using less-abrasive cleaning methods. A quick internet search might turn up recommendations that include scouring the pan with a ball of aluminum foil.

To keep your pain in top shape, we recommend first trying tough yet gentle methods and tools like baking soda, vinegar, and plastic mesh scouring pads. Using more abrasive cleaning materials risks scratching and damaging your cooking surfaces. Steel wool can also damage stainless steel skillets by leaving small particles behind that later rust.

Carbon Steel

The cooking surface of a

carbon steel skillet

is the perfect hybrid of a cast iron skillet and a stainless clad frying pan. Carbon steel is lightweight like stainless steel, but it can hold a season (Can you say flavor perfection?) like cast iron. When it comes to cleaning a carbon steel skillet, you should treat it like you would a traditional cast iron skillet. Washing a carbon steel frying pan with soap and water will dissolve and remove the pan's seasoning. Also, never wash a carbon steel skillet in the dishwasher, as this will destroy its seasoning.

To clean a carbon steel skillet and preserve its seasoning, all you need to do is sop up any extra grease with a paper towel and wipe the pan down. If any stubborn bits of food are stuck to the pan, add a bit of water and bring it to a boil. Then scrape the surface, empty, and wipe down with a bit of oil to re-season.

You can also scour the pan with salt. For the best results, use a salt that has a large, coarse grain. While the pan is still warm, pour in about a cup of salt. Use a folded dishtowel to rub the salt around the pan's surface. Throw away the salt and rinse the frying pan with hot water.

Once the pan has dried, you'll need to restore its seasoning. Coat the surface with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil or rendered lard to reseason the pan. This will help it maintain its luster and non-stick cooking surface.

 Do I Really Need to Follow My Cookware's Cleaning Instructions?

Emphatically, yes. If you don't, you won't set off a butterfly effect of natural disasters, but you will run the risk of ruining the pride and joy of your kitchen along with your ability to "adult" with finesse. Before tossing your new skillet in the dishwasher, read the care instructions that came with it. When in doubt, check out Made In's nifty


page that's full of tips and tricks that'll keep your kitchenware in tip-top shape for the long run.

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