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How to clean a rusty cast iron skillet. Let’s get dirty and freshen up that old rusty skillet! This shop has been compensated by Inmar Intelligence and Colgate-Palmolive® and Scotch-Brite®​ . All opinions are mine alone. #GreatTeamEasyClean

Wondering how to clean a rusty cast iron skillet?

Today we’re talking about how to restore a cast iron skillet by removing rust.

Once we get rid of the rust, we can then season it, and clean it after future cooking. Doing so will help our cast iron pan from becoming rusty and sad looking.

How To Clean A Rusty Cast Iron Skillet, stainless steel scrubbing pads, scrubbing dot sponges, Palmolive dish soap, and cast iron skillet on a table with mountains in background

I know, I know, you’ve probably heard never clean a cast iron skillet, right? This really refers to never stick it in the dishwasher, or soak it in the sink. Doing so will make it rust!

Trust me, there are times when the pan needs to be cleaned and reseasoned.

I don’t think anyone can argue with that. This is especially true when it has rusted because it had been stored away for a while and the humidity got to it.

It just needs a good cleaning and reseasoning!

If you clean and reseason your pan after every use, it will look and function great for many, many years to come!

So, with that in mind, let’s get down to it. 

Clean And Season A Rusty Cast Iron Skillet

Materials

  • Rusty or dirty cast iron skillet
  • Scotch-Brite Stainless Steel Scrubbing Pads
  • Palmolive Ultra Oxy
  • Scotch-Brite Advanced Scrub Dots Non-Scratch Scrubbers
  • Water
Sponges and soap with rusty cast iron pan

I’m using the Scotch-Brite Stainless Steel Scrubbing Pads and Scotch-Brite Advanced Scrub Dots Non-Scratch Scrubbers.

They’re convenient and easy to use and require no elbow grease to get the job done!

Scotch-Brite Stainless Steel Scrubbing Pads

The Scotch-Brite Advanced Scrub Dots Non-Scratch Scrubbers dry fast and rinse clean without trapping food (awesome!).

They also deliver the trusted scrubbing power you’ve come to know and love from the Scotch-Brite Brand. Powerful scrubbing. Rinses Clean.

Scotch-brite advanced scrubbing dots for washing dishes

The combination of Palmolive and Scotch-Brite gives shoppers the perfect solution to easily clean up any type of mess. They’re perfect for heavy messes like cast iron cookware, barbecue grills, dutch ovens, and more!

Interested in trying these out for yourself? Click on the items below to shop!

How To Clean A Rusty Cast Iron Skillet


To remove the rust from a cast iron skillet we’re going to start with the Scotch-Brite Stainless Steel Scrubbing Pads, a drop of the Palmolive Ultra Oxy and water.

Wet the Scotch-Brite Stainless Steel Scrubbing Pad with water and add a drop of Palmolive Ultra Oxy to the pan.

Work in a small circular motion, scrubbing the pan to remove the rust.

Rusty cast iron pan, scrubbing with stainless steel scrubbing pad to remove rust

You’ll see the rust start to disappear and come off from the pan.

Removing rust on cast iron skillet with stainless steel cleaning pad, on a blue checkered table cloth
Scrubbing rust off cast iron skillet with stainless steel pad

Next, rinse the pan in water before cleaning one final time.

Rinsing cast iron pan in tub of water after removing rust

Use the Scotch-Brite Advanced Scrub Dots Non-Scratch Scrubbers and Palmolive Ultra Oxy to clean the pan with water.

Cleaning a cast iron skillet with scrubbing dots sponge from Scotch-Brite

Give it a rinse under water and wipe the pan dry with a clean towel before seasoning.

At this point, your cast iron pan will be clean and rust-free.

Before seasoning, allow the skillet to completely dry.

I just left it out on the table for a few minutes to let any water evaporate off the pan that was left after towel drying.

Cast iron skillet after removing rust

What Does Seasoning A Pan Mean?


Seasoning means to bake a thin layer of oil into the pan.

This will create a nice durable non-stick surface. Doing this will help keep your pan clean going forward. 

You will need to reseason your pan from time to time to keep the surface non-stick and clean from food debris, and of course, to help prevent rust issues in the future.

How To Season A Cast Iron Skillet


Now that our pan is rust free and dry, we can continue on to seasoning the cast iron skillet!

You can use any cooking oil you have on hand. We have corn oil at our house, so that’s what we’ll use today. 

Use a paper towel to wipe the entire pan with a layer of oil. I mean the entire pan, too.

The cooking surface, the bottom of the pan, and yes, even the handles. We’re seasoning the entire cast iron skillet here, not just the cooking surface.

Seasoning a cast iron skillet with oil and paper towel

Because a cast iron skillet is porous, most of the oil will actually soak into the pan.

Once the pan has a layer of oil, take a dry paper towel and wipe off any excess.

The next step is to bake the oil in. I find that baking the cast iron skillet at 375 degrees F. for 1 hour in the oven or on the grill works great.

After the hour is up, turn the heat off and let it completely cool while it’s still in the oven or still on the grill.

Cast iron skillet on grill being seasoned with oil, grill is open with mountains in the background

Note: If using the oven, place a baking sheet on the rack below the skillet so the oil doesn’t drip down into your oven. 

Now you have a nicely seasoned cast iron skillet to work on, but how you do keep it clean going forward?

Wash and Maintain Cast Iron Skillet


When you have a seasoned cast iron skillet, keeping it clean is simple.

I like to clean the skillet while it’s still quite warm, not hot or fresh off the burner or out of the oven – that could shock and break the pan.

While it’s still quite warm, run it under hot water and use the Scotch-Brite Advanced Scrub Dots Non-Scratch Scrubbers and a drop of Palmolive Ultra Oxy dish soap to wash it clean. Then dry it immediately with a clean cloth.

The last step of cleaning your cast iron pan is wiping it with another thin layer of oil. Then wipe off any excess oil.

That’s it! Now you can keep you cast iron pans clean, seasoned, and ready to go!

How To Clean A Rusty Cast Iron Skillet with stainless steel sponges, scrubbing dot sponges and palmolive oxy soap

What mess are you tackling next?

Next time you’re at Walmart, head to the dish soap aisle and pick up everything you need to clean a rusty cast iron skillet!

You might also like:

How To Clean A Rusty Cast Iron Skillet

How to clean a rusty cast iron skillet and make it look like new again.
Prep Time5 mins
Active Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Author: Scrappy Geek

Equipment

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Oven or Grill
  • Rusty Cast Iron Skillet

Materials

  • Scotch-Brite Stainless Steel Scrubbing Pads
  • Palmolive​ Ultra Oxy
  • Scotch-Brite​ Advanced Scrub Dots Non-Scratch Scrubbers
  • Sink or tub of water
  • Cooking oil
  • Paper towel Use any cloth to apply the oil

Instructions

Get Rust Off Cast Iron Skillet

  • Use the Scotch-Brite Stainless Steel Scrubbing Pads with water and a drop of Palmolive Ultra Oxy.
  • Remove the rust using a small circular motion. Dip the scrubbing pads in water as needed.

Season Cast Iron Skillet

  • Using a paper towel or cloth, wipe the entire pan with cooking oil, including the bottom and handle, too. Allow the oil to soak into the pan for a minute or two and then wipe off any excess
  • Place the pan in the oven (an a cookie sheet on the rack below it to catch any oil) or place it on your grill. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and allow to bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Turn off the oven or grill but do not remove the pan. Allow the pan to fully cool inside before removing the pan.

Wash Cast Iron Skillet

  • Wash a cast iron skillet while it's still warm, but not hot. Washing a hot pan may shock and crack it. Run it under hot water and use the Scotch-Brite®​ Advanced Scrub Dots Non-Scratch Scrubbers and a drop of Palmolive®​ Ultra Oxy dish soap to wash it clean.
  • Immediately dry with a clean cloth. Apply a thin layer of oil to the inside of the pan and wipe any excess away.
  • Repeat the process if your pan becomes rusty again.

Video

Notes

Tip: Each time you cook using cast iron, always wipe the inside with a little bit of oil first. This will help the cleanup process and help your pan stay seasoned and non-stick for years to come!​

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