How To Clean Carbon Steel Pans

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Are you looking for a way to get rid of those old, rusty pans? If yes, then you should definitely check out our guide on how to clean carbon steel pans.

Carbon steel pans are great because they are durable, affordable, and easy to care for. They also come in various sizes and shapes, allowing you to cook whatever you want. However, these pans tend to rust over time, especially if you don’t properly take care of them.

This happens because the surface of the pan gets covered with iron oxide, which makes it look dull and unattractive. 

How To Clean Carbon Steel Pans And Skillets Properly

Cleaning carbon steel pans is a bit of an art. It’s not like cleaning stainless steel, where you can just wipe it down with soap and water.

The surface of carbon steel requires special care because it will react differently than other materials.

If you don’t know what kind of reaction your pan has, you might end up damaging it. That’s why we have provided this step-by-step tutorial on how to clean carbon steel pans.

Step 1: Remove Any Food Stains Or Spots

Before you start cleaning your pan, make sure that there aren’t any food stains or spots present on its surface.

You can do this by wiping the pan with a damp cloth. Use a little bit of dish detergent if necessary.

Step 2: Scrub Your Pan With Soap And Water

Now that you have cleaned off all the food debris from your pan, it’s time to scrub it. To do so, use a brush made specifically for cleaning pots and pans.

You can find one at most hardware stores.

You should apply some pressure when using the brush, but be careful not to scratch the surface.

Once the pan is completely dry, rinse it thoroughly with warm water.

Step 3: Dry Your Pans

After rinsing, let your pan air dry for about 30 minutes before storing it away. Make sure that you keep it somewhere cool and dark.

Step 4: Apply Some Oil

Once your pan is fully dried, you can apply a thin layer of oil. Do this by rubbing some cooking oil between your hands.

Rub the oil around the entire surface of your pan until it becomes shiny again.

Step 5: Keep An Eye On Your Pans

It’s important to remember that carbon steel pans need proper maintenance. Therefore, you should regularly inspect their condition. Look for cracks and chips, as well as scratches.

If you notice any damage, immediately replace your pan. Otherwise, you could risk ruining it permanently.

Method 2

Step 1: Remove the rust.

Step 2: Clean the surface with a wire brush and then use steel wool to get rid of any remaining rust.

Step 3: Apply some primer, let it dry for at least 30 minutes and then apply another coat of paint.

Step 4: Let it dry overnight and then buff it with a soft cloth.

Step 5: Repeat Steps 2 – 4 until you achieve the desired shine.

Step 6: Use a Stainless Steel Brush to remove any excess remaining on the pan. 

Step 7: Polish the finish with a microfiber cloth.

Things To Avoid

Dish soap should be avoided when washing pans. It will wash away the seasoning. Don’t put too much dish soap in the water. Use a soft cloth or sponge instead.

Never use steel wool to clean the pan as it will scratch the surface and ruin the seasoning. Avoid soaking your pan as it will rust. You will then need to wash your pan by hand.


  • Never use abrasives or sponges when cleaning your stainless steel wok.
  • Scrubbing can scratch the surface.
  • Don’t clean your wok in the dishwasher, rust may appear if you do.
  • Remove all rust before seasoning again.

Why It’s Important To Keep Your Pans Clean

No matter what kind of pan you are using, it’s always a good idea to clean it after each use. Carbon steel pans are much more prone to rust than other types of cookware, so cleaning is essential in this process.

Store Appropriately

Don’t forget that you need to store your pan properly after washing it. Rub it down with a thin layer of oil before storing it in a safe place and don’t stack your pans too tightly.

Long-Term Maintenance

You should take care of your pans by cleaning them regularly. This will help keep odors out of your house.

When you clean your pans, be sure to use soap or baking soda, and most importantly, don’t scrub your pans too hard because this could damage them.

Re-season When Necessary

Pans should be cleaned regularly. Scratches and chips can make them harder to clean.

Cleaning pans helps prevent rust and those rust stains can ruin the appearance of your kitchen which is definitely something you want to avoid.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Carbon Steel Easy To Clean?

However, the truth is that carbon steel isn’t more or less difficult than cleaning Teflon, stainless steel, ceramic, or cast iron cookware.

How Do I Clean A Carbon Steel Pan?

Follow these simple steps to have it sparkling once again.

How Do I Clean My Pan?

Next, run a small amount of water into your pan, and use a soft sponge to loosen any other food debris that may still be on the surface.

What Tools Should I Have On Hand?

All you need to have on hand is a soft sponge, paper towel, and running water.


Overall, it is definitely a simpler process than first imagined because the process is short but with a bit of elbow grease. Hopefully, this guide has given you a good insight into the best methods to properly clean your pans and also what you will need to avoid. 

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