This Cast-Iron Scrubber Revolutionized the Way I Clean My Pans

Cleaning your kitchen doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Dare we say it could be fun? Welcome to BA’s Cleaning Week: Consider this your trusty guide to the nooks and crannies that you definitely are not scrubbing often enough, plus the pro-approved tools and products to get the job done.

My Lodge cast-iron pan has lived on my stovetop permanently ever since I acquired it. I use it to make almost everything, with the exception of fried eggs (which I still make in my nonstick skillet). For weekend breakfast, there are crunchy hash browns, chicken roasted with a variety of root vegetables, apple crumble, and sausages with beans and greens.

The only thing these dishes have in common, other being utterly wonderful, is that they are expert at coating the bottom of my pan with a layer of sludge and/or charcoal char. Because I am lazy, I looked carefully for a cast-iron cleaning technique that would keep my cookware gleaming and debris-free but also wouldn’t need a lot of labor. I tried using hot water and a scrub brush, baking soda and a scouring pad, and even a little dish soap (a little is allowed if you re-season) to scrape the pan, but none of these techniques stuck. It was more likely that I would leave the dirty pan on the stove and act as if I had never seen it until I needed it again. But I was determined that this skillet would not suffer the same fate as my first cast-iron pan, a cherry red Le Creuset square grill pan, which perished tragically as a result of a steak with a pepper crust gone hideously wrong. Let her soul rest in peace.

Then, because this is my idea of fun, I came across the Ringer—a cast-iron scrubber and miraculous cleaning tool—while looking for bottle brushes on Amazon. This exquisite 8″x6″ stretch of slinky chain mail appears to have been torn from a medieval knight’s armor. That is the simplest approach I’ve discovered for removing even the most tenacious crusty particles from cast iron.

The interlocking rings of this rust-resistant, extremely durable stainless steel chain mail produce a rough surface that is excellent for removing crusted-on residue. This is how it goes: Fill your cast-iron skillet (or griddle, or Dutch oven), once you’re finished cooking and it’s cold enough to handle, in the sink with some warm water. Next, use the Scrubber to scrub down the entire pan’s surface. If you’re working with a thick crust, repeat the process. After that, dry and lightly oil the pan as usual. That is it, exactly. You can either run the Plate under the faucet to remove any stuck-on food or just put it in the dishwasher to clean it.

Fear not if, like me, you have a healthy suspicion of gadgets with only one use (think of garlic presses and avocado slicers). This chain mail scrubber can handle crinkly pizza stones, sheet pans, woks, and Pyrex dishes in addition to cast-iron cookware. It will last a lifetime and, unlike a typical kitchen sponge, there are no concerns about bacteria. Belief: If you use your skillet as frequently as I do, this cast-iron cleaning is worth every penny of its $18 price tag. Bring it, steak with a pepper crust!

Messy kitchen? More sparkling stories from Bon Appétit’s Cleaning Week:

This article was originally published in 2016 and was updated by Megan Wahn in 2023.


Leave a Comment