How to Clean Cast Iron With Vinegar and Baking Soda

Cleaning and maintaining a cast iron is not difficult. However, if a cast iron has rust issues, a deeper cleaning may be necessary. Several cleaning methods for cast iron were discussed in the article 6 Signs Of a Poorly Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet And How To Fix It.

Sometimes, a simple scrubbing with an SOS pad will suffice. For deeper set rust, a common remedy includes basic white vinegar and baking soda. In this article, we will explore the most common questions regarding using vinegar and baking soda on a cast iron. The most important questions include if the vinegar solution is safe for cast iron and how long to allow the cast iron to soak in the mixture.

How to Clean Cast Iron with Baking Sofa

1: Add Baking Soda

Add three parts baking soda to one part water to form a paste. The paste is an alternative to detergent and will also eliminate any off-putting odors.

baking soda cast iron skillet

2: Scrub The Cast Iron

Scrub the cast iron with a soft-bristled brush or SOS pad. Scrub gently to avoid rubbing off the seasoning. The abrasive paste will scrub away the affected areas.

scrub cast iron pan

3. Rinse

Rinse the cast iron to remove the food residue along with the baking soda residue. After rinsing, dry the cast iron thoroughly and reseason using the oven method.

rinse cast iron pan

How to Clean Cast Iron With Vinegar

1. Mix Equal Parts Water and Vinegar

Mix an equal amount of water and vinegar. This solution dilutes the pH of the vinegar to a safe level for cast iron.

add vinegar

2. Soak The Cast Iron

Soak the cast iron in the vinegar solution and check every half hour. When the food particles or rust are softened enough to remove, dump the solution and scrub the affected areas.

clean cast iron pan with vinegar

3. Reseason The Cast Iron

Dry the cast iron as soon as it is clean and reseason it using the oven method.

reseason skillet


Does Vinegar Damage Cast Iron?

Vinegar is not harmful to cast iron so long as it is used sparingly and the cast iron does not soak in the solution for a long period of time. Raw vinegar can remove the coating so, if vinegar is used to eliminate rust from a cast iron, it should be mixed with equal parts water.
Cast iron starts to corrode at a pH level of 4.3. Basic white vinegar has a pH of 2.4 so it is critical to dilute the vinegar with water to prevent corrosion. Allowing cast iron to soak in vinegar too long can also cause pitting in the cast iron which is irreparable. In terms of cooking with vinegar, a splash or two is okay for deglazing or flavoring but an abundance should not be used due to the pH level.

Does Vinegar Remove Rust From Cast Iron?

To remedy rusted cast iron, mix equal parts of basic white vinegar and water. Soak the cast iron in the solution until the rust loosens up. This can be done for up to eight hours but the solution should be checked every half hour or so. This is because once the solution dissolves the rust, it will start to dissolve the cast iron and will cause pitting, so the cast iron needs to be removed from the soak as soon as the rust is eliminated.

Once the rust is removed, the vinegar will start working on the cast iron. As soon as the cast iron is removed from the soak, dry the cast iron thoroughly with a towel and reseason using the oven method. The oven method is the best way to dry and season cast iron that has been wet because the oven will heat (dry) the entire surface of the cast iron.
The vinegar cleaning solution is simple for rusty cast iron. Scrub the cast iron with a soft brush to remove any physical debris. Mix together equal parts water and basic white vinegar and apply to the rusty area. If the entire cast iron is rusty, soak the piece in the vinegar solution in the sink or a bucket. Check it every half hour and remove the solution once the rust is gone. Brush the cast iron to remove rusty residue, dry the cast iron and reseason.

Is Baking Soda Safe For Cast Iron?

Baking soda is safe for cast iron and is a great alternative to soap. Baking soda is best at removing discoloration, burnt food, and stubborn stains. Vinegar is better at removing rust due to its acidity. Baking soda and vinegar combined should never be used for rust removal because they can easily damage cast iron.

Since soaps and detergents are detrimental to cast iron, baking soda is often used as an alternative. Mix a little baking soda with water and apply it to the area to be scrubbed and gently brush away the food or stains. Rinse the baking soda away with water and dry the cast iron and reseason it using the oven method.

Another great benefit of using baking soda on cast iron is that it is also a deodorizer. Baking soda eliminates odors and bacteria and is especially useful after cooking fish in cast iron. Mix five parts baking soda to one part water and boil the mixture to eliminate odors.

To remove stubborn, burnt-on food residue, make a paste of three parts baking soda to one part baking soda and apply it to the affected area and gently scrub away the food. Alternatively, you can add dry baking soda to the spot and apply water until a sandy paste forms. Baking soda is a mild abrasive and does wonders for scrubbing out cast iron.
How To Clean Cast Iron