How to Clean a Cast Iron Griddle

Cast iron griddles are a classic kitchen staple, providing even and consistent heating for cooking everything from pancakes to burgers. However, caring for cast iron requires some special considerations to keep it in good condition. Learning how to properly clean a cast iron griddle will help it develop a natural non-stick patina and avoid rusting or damage. With the right techniques, keeping a cast iron griddle spotless doesn’t have to be difficult.

What is a Cast Iron Griddle?

A cast iron griddle is a flat, solid cooking surface made entirely of cast iron. Cast iron has excellent heat retention and distribution properties, making it ideal for tasks like cooking pancakes, bacon, eggs, and more. The heavy material also allows the pan to retain heat and maintain an even cooking temperature.

Cast iron griddles developed as a multi-purpose cookware item, allowing cooks to use one surface for frying, searing, baking, and more. While griddles first emerged in the 1800s, modern cast iron maintains the same traditional production process. Molten iron gets poured into a mold or sand cast, then polished and seasoned.

Many cast iron griddles have shallow sidewalls or a completely flat shape. This provides ample cooking real estate for handling large batches of food. Most griddles also come pre-seasoned with an oil coating to prevent food from sticking.

Why Proper Cleaning is Important

Caring for a cast iron griddle properly is important for several reasons:

  • Maintains non-stick surface: Seasoning creates a natural non-stick coating. Cleaning carefully prevents damaging this layer.
  • Avoids rust: Cast iron rusts if moisture and soap residue are left behind. Proper cleaning methods reduce corrosion.
  • Extends lifespan: With careful use, cast iron can last generations. Appropriate cleaning is the best way to ensure longevity.
  • Prevents food contamination: Cleaning thoroughly kills bacteria and avoids transferring flavors between dishes.

Proper cleaning may take a little more effort than other pans, but it will keep your cast iron in the best possible shape for years to come.

Supplies Needed

Cleaning and caring for cast iron requires just a few simple supplies:

  • Stiff nylon brush: A tough brush helps remove stuck-on food debris.
  • Mild dish soap: A small amount of mild soap in warm water helps clean without stripping seasoning.
  • Towels: Have kitchen towels on hand to dry immediately after washing.
  • Oil or seasoning: Re-season right after drying to prevent rust.
  • Pan scraper: A flat spatula helps gently loosen any stuck-on food bits after cooking.
  • Chainmail scrubber: The optional chainmail tool scrapes a griddle without damaging the seasoning layer.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Griddle After Every Use

Cleaning your cast iron griddle after each use doesn’t require much effort and will keep it ready for your next meal. Here’s a simple process:

1. Allow Griddle to Cool

  • Never wash cast iron when it’s still hot! Let it cool completely after cooking. Hot metal and cold water can damage the pan.

2. Wipe Away Debris

  • Use a stiff nylon brush, spatula, or chainmail scrubber to gently loosen any burnt bits of food stuck to the cooking surface.
  • Wipe away grease and food debris with a paper towel.

3. Rinse With Warm Water

  • Place the griddle under running warm water. Lightly scrub with a soft sponge or brush using a small amount of mild dish soap.
  • Take care not to use anything too abrasive. This can strip the seasoning.

4. Dry Immediately and Thoroughly

  • Dry the griddle immediately with clean kitchen towels once washed. Make sure to wipe away every drop of moisture to prevent rust.

5. Re-season with Oil or Grease

  • Apply a very thin layer of oil or grease across the cooking surface. Use a high smoke point neutral oil like vegetable, canola, avocado, or grapeseed oil.
  • Coat the entire surface. Rub it in well with a paper towel. Wipe away any excess oil.
  • This seasoning layer helps protect and maintain the natural non-stick patina.

Repeat this simple 5 step cleaning process after each use, and your cast iron griddle will stay clean and ready for many meals to come!

How to Deep Clean a Cast Iron Griddle

While regular cleaning keeps your griddle in good shape day-to-day, occasionally deep cleaning is required to remove built up debris. Here’s how to deep clean cast iron:

1. Wash With Dish Soap and Water

  • If food debris or burnt-on grease accumulates, place the griddle under hot running water. Scrub gently using a dish brush, soap, and a chainmail scrubber to loosen stuck-on bits without damaging the seasoning.

2. Use Baking Soda or Salt As Needed

  • For stubborn debris and residue, make a paste with baking soda and water. Apply to difficult spots, let sit 5-10 minutes, then scrub. The abrasive yet gentle properties help cut through grime.
  • For a more aggressive scrub, pour kosher salt across the surface. Use the chainmail scrubber and salt together to scour tougher spots. Rinse thoroughly.

3. Dry Completely

  • Ensure the griddle is completely dry before re-seasoning. If moisture is present, thoroughly heat on the stovetop for a few minutes to evaporate excess water before oiling.

4. Re-season the Cooking Surface

  • After drying fully, apply a thin layer of oil to recondition the pan. Bake in a 300°F oven for an hour to harden the oil into a protective coating. Let cool completely before using again.

Regular deep cleaning as needed keeps the griddle looking like new!

How to Remove Rust from a Cast Iron Griddle

Nothing ruins cast iron quite like rust. Thankfully, removing light rust is straightforward. Here are some simple rust removal methods:

For Light Rust:

  • Sprinkle salt, baking soda, or borax onto affected areas and scrub with steel wool or a chainmail scrubber. Rinse and immediately dry thoroughly.
  • Make a paste from salt and vegetable oil. Apply and let sit before scrubbing and rinsing. The oil helps draw out rust from the pores.
  • Use fine-grit sandpaper to gently scrub spots of light rust before wiping the area completely dry.

For Heavy Rust:

  • Clean using a commercial rust remover solution. Soak the griddle to allow the product to fully penetrate before scrubbing and rinsing.
  • Try an electrolysis tank – submerge the griddle in a water bath, apply an electric current via jumper cables to a sacrifice piece of steel. This electrolysis process removes rust efficiently. Rinse and dry immediately.

Prevent Future Rust:

  • Season the pan using an oven or stovetop method after removing rust to protect the bare metal.
  • Always dry immediately after washing and apply a light coat of oil before storage.

A little bit of maintenance and TLC helps keep cast iron rust-free for ages. Don’t let a little rust ruin an otherwise great griddle.

How to Remove Stuck-On Food

Getting food remnants stuck to a cast iron griddle now and then is normal with so much cooking contact. Try these tips for removing stuck-on food:

  • Pour kosher salt onto the stuck bits. Let sit for 10 minutes before scrubbing with a stiff brush. The salt is mildly abrasive without being too harsh.
  • For food burnt onto the pan, sprinkle baking soda and just enough water to make a spreadable paste. Allow to set before gently scrubbing away.
  • Use a plastic spatula or pan scraper to lightly scrape the surface and lift debris after cooking when food is still warm and hasn’t hardened onto the griddle fully.
  • If something acidic like tomatoes got burned onto the pan, sprinkle a little baking soda to lift the bits, then scrub. Baking soda neutralizes acidity.
  • Fill stuck areas with warm water and let soak to soften food residue before attempting to remove.

Don’t reach for anything too abrasive like steel wool which can strip seasoning. A little elbow grease with salt, baking soda, or a spatula does the trick for most stuck-on messes.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Griddle After Cooking Fish

The strong aroma and flavor of seafood can linger in cast iron. Take these steps when cleaning after cooking fish:

Remove Fish Residue

  • Discard any fatty oil used for frying fish. It will retain the taste.
  • Use paper towels to wipe out as much debris as possible immediately after cooking.

Wash With Mild Dish Soap

  • Scrub the warm griddle using dish soap and water. Soap helps cut through fish odor rather than just hot water.

Rinse Thoroughly

  • Take care to rinse away all soap residue so it doesn’t impact taste next use.

Dry and Re-season

  • Allow to fully air dry to prevent moisture and odor from lingering. Re-season before storing.

Freshen with Lemon

  • As an extra odor eliminator, cut a lemon half and scrub the cut side across the warm griddle after cleaning. Let sit briefly before rinsing away lemon juice. The acidity helps neutralize fishy smells.

Repeat washing, drying, and seasoning until any seafood smells have disappeared. Your griddle will be fresh as new.

How to Clean Burned or Stuck Grease

From frying up bacon to searing steaks, grease is inevitable with a cast iron griddle. Try these tips for cleaning off burned or stuck grease:

Hot Water and Degreasing Dish Soap

  • The best first step is using very hot water and a degreasing dish soap. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners. Scrub gently with a brush.

Baking Soda

  • Sprinkle baking soda onto greasy areas and make a paste with just a little water. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing.


  • Pour a generous amount of salt onto stuck-on grease. Use dry for fresh grease or make a paste for burnt-on areas. Let sit before scrubbing.

White Vinegar

  • Boil a solution of 1 cup white vinegar to 1 cup water. Pour over stuck grease spots and allow to soak before rinsing and drying thoroughly. The vinegar cuts through oil and fat.

Dishwasher Detergent

  • For extremely stubborn grease, apply powdered dishwasher detergent and scrub with a brush. Rinse extremely well. Only use dishwasher detergent occasionally as a last resort.

With a little grease-fighting effort, your griddle will be glistening again in no time!

How to Season a Cast Iron Griddle

Maintaining the seasoning on your cast iron griddle helps protect it from rust, provides a natural non-stick finish, and prevents food flavor transfer. Re-season using these simple steps:

Clean and Dry

  • Always start with a clean, dry griddle with no old food debris or moisture present.

Apply Thin Oil Layer

  • Wipe a thin layer of high smoke point oil like grapeseed or vegetable oil over the entire surface. Avoid thick, gunky oil. Just a glistening sheen is needed.

Heat the Griddle

  • Place an aluminum foil lined baking sheet under the griddle in the oven to catch any drips. Heat in a 300°F oven for about an hour to bake on the oil.

Increase Heat Gradually

  • Once the first coat has baked on, remove the pan and let it cool slightly. Wipe on another thin oil coat, then place it back in the oven.
  • Increase the heat to 400°F for an hour, then again to 500°F for another hour. This cures the oil fully onto the metal.

Cool and Wipe Down

  • Allow the griddle to cool completely before wiping away the excess oil left from baking. The surface should have a shiny patina. Use as normal.

Repeat re-seasoning whenever your cast iron feels like it needs a protective boost.

How to Store a Cast Iron Griddle

Storing cast iron griddles properly in between uses ensures they don’t collect dust, moisture, or odors. Follow these tips for storage:

  • Always dry fully and apply a light oil coating before putting away in a cabinet or on a shelf.
  • If hanging on a wall mount, lightly oil and cover the griddle with an old cotton pillowcase. Tie it loosely open at the bottom for air circulation.
  • Place wax paper between two stacked griddles to prevent scratching.
  • For long-term storage, apply oil, wrap in a towel or bag, and store in a cool, dry place.
  • Ensure cast iron pieces avoid moisture during storage by placing out of steam, drips, or leaks.
  • Never nest or stack cast iron inside one another fully. Moisture and chipping can occur.

With the right care while cooking and during storage, a cast iron griddle can deliver delicious meals for many years to come. Follow these tips on how to clean a cast iron griddle, and it will maintain its quality and seasoned finish with every use.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cleaning Cast Iron Griddles

Can you use dish soap on cast iron griddles?

Yes, you can use dish soap on a cast iron griddle as long as you use it sparingly and rinse thoroughly. Avoid soaking the pan to prevent removing too much seasoning. Gentle scrubbing with a small amount of mild soap is safe for day-to-day cleaning.

How do you deep clean burnt grease from a cast iron griddle?

For burnt-on grease, make a paste with baking soda and water. Apply to the stuck grease spots and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before gently scrubbing away. Rinse thoroughly after scrubbing. Baking soda works as a gentle abrasive to lift off the grease without damaging the seasoning.

What is the best way to clean tough stuck-on food from a cast iron griddle?

If mild dish soap doesn’t remove stuck-on food residue, sprinkle a generous amount of kosher salt onto the spots. Let the salt sit for 5-10 minutes to help loosen and lift the debris before scrubbing with a stiff nylon brush. Salt provides just enough gentle abrasion to remove food without damaging the seasoning layer.

Can you put cast iron griddles in the dishwasher?

No, cast iron should never go in the dishwasher. The harsh detergents and hot water can strip off seasoning and cause rusting. Always hand wash cast iron using mild dish soap and a soft bristle scrub brush if needed. Dry immediately and season after cleaning.

How do you get rust spots off a cast iron griddle?

Light rust spots can be removed by pouring salt onto the affected area and scrubbing vigorously with a brush or metal spatula. For deeper rust, use a chainmail scrubber or fine grit sandpaper to gently scour until all the rust is gone. Rinse, immediately dry, and re-season the pan.


Caring for cast iron griddles doesn’t need to be a chore with the right cleaning techniques. Regular upkeep prevents rust, maintains seasoning, and keeps food tasting delicious. With gentle yet effective cleaning after each use and occasional deep cleaning as needed, your cast iron griddle will provide years of loyal service in the kitchen. Follow this guide for removing stuck-on food, grease, and rust while keeping your griddle looking like new. With just a bit of care, cast iron delivers even, consistent cooking performance every time.