The Heavy-Duty Scrubber You Need for Your Cast Iron Skillet

This is the best way to remove the gunk and that greasy feeling from your pan — without stripping the seasoning.

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March 08, 2021
Set of Two Rusty Cast Iron Skillets over white.


Set of Two Rusty Cast Iron Skillets over white.

Photo by: PhotoEuphoria/Getty Images

PhotoEuphoria/Getty Images

Here’s a question I get a lot: "What’s the best way to clean my cast iron skillet?" I own three different cast iron skillets and keep at least one of them on my stove at all times for high heat searing, and we use them a lot at Food Network. So it’s not unwarranted that my friends/family/acquaintances turn to me with this query.

There’s a lot of info on the Internet about the types of products you should and shouldn’t use on cast iron. Some people will tell you never to use soap, for example, while other will argue that’s a myth and it’s totally fine (we're in the camp that thinks a little is fine). Soap debate aside, there’s one thing for certain. It’s really darn hard to scrub gunk off of a cast iron skillet.

That’s where my favorite tool to clean a cast iron skillet comes into play. It’s called The Ringer, which is a pretty intense name, but for good reason: it completely removes any food that’s crusted onto your cast iron skillet without stripping the seasoning.

The Ringer looks like a sheet of metal chainmail, and that’s because, well, it’s literally made out of stainless-steel chainmail. I like to bunch it up in the palm of my hand and scrub in circles on the problem areas of my pan after I’ve really gone to town searing some steak or a pork chop. I’ve gotten the Ringer for friends, and some of them prefer to wear rubber gloves while using it so it doesn’t pinch their skin. Either way, it removes every last fleck of gunk while somehow also eliminating residual grease and oiliness from the pan, no extra abrasive cleaning products or salt necessary. As a clean freak, I really like it when the handle of my cast iron skillet is nicely seasoned but doesn’t feel like it’s coated in excess amounts of chicken fat from two weeks ago.

When I’m done using the Ringer, I either wash it with some dish soap or run it through the dishwasher. I’ve had it for about five years or so and it’s never rusted — in fact, it looks the same as the day I got it. This cannot be said for the countless number of scrubby sponges that have torn or turned completely dark brown and greasy while trying to clean my cast iron in my pre-Ringer days.

So if you’re a clean freak like myself, I’d recommend giving this a try By the by, if you’re gifting someone a cast iron skillet, it’s a super cute addition to also give them The Ringer and a little note about how to clean it and turn it into a cherished heirloom.

Use and Care for Cast Iron
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