Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Cast iron pans are serious kitchen workhorses—they do everything from expertly searing steak (sans grill), to frying bacon, to baking cornbread—but the confusion around caring for them turns a lot of people off. Here’s the thing, though: Seasoning and caring for your cast iron cookware isn’t all that hard, so long as you know what you’re doing. To clean your cast iron, make sure you have a great cast iron scrubber. Some of that will come down to design preference, but you'll also want to note the material, as some should be used only for the toughest jobs since they can strip your pan of its seasoning. Once the pan has cooled, use said tool, some mild soap, and hot water to slough off stuck-on bits. Then, dry it thoroughly to prevent rust and rub a dollop of oil into the cooking surface. Think you’re ready to give it a try?
These are the best cast iron scrubbers for the job.
Best Overall: Scrub Daddy Colors FlexTexture Scrubber, 3 Pack
Bits and pieces can get stuck in the porous sponge
This cult-favorite cleaning tool, which debuted to much acclaim on "Shark Tank," is the perfect choice for cast iron because it’s just abrasive enough. It won’t wear your pan down to its original finish, requiring a new round of seasoning, but it is tough enough to take off stuck-on bits of food and any layer of grease that could cause your pan to go rancid.
We love that the Scrub Daddy easily rinses clean (you can even toss it in the dishwasher if you need to!) and holds its shape despite many uses since that increases its longevity. Still, the price point is relatively low, making the scrubber an exceptional value worthy of the top spot on the list.
Best Budget: Full Circle Tenacious C Cast Iron Brush with Bamboo Handle
Handle for maximum control
Not as flexible as some others
Though you’re technically paying more per piece for this brush compared to some of the competition, the Full Circle Tenacious C Cast Iron Brush and Scraper is more of the value buy. Because it has both a brush and a built-in scraper, you’re getting a little more for your money. Plus, this BPA-free brush doesn’t have to be replaced quite as often, so when you really break it down, you’ll likely spend less money over time.
You’ll feel confident with this brush in your hand, since the bristles are a bit gentler than some of the other materials, like stainless steel. Still, you’ll have no problem busting bits of food, thanks to the scraper. Simply tip the brush down, slough off that stuck-on stuff, then proceed with scrubbing.
Best Stainless Steel: Scotch-Brite Stainless Steel Scrubbers
Tough on grime
Bits and pieces can get stuck
Unravels over time
Though not meant for everyday use, since you’ll strip the seasoning from your pan, these stainless steel scrubbers are great for those really tough jobs on your uncoated cookware, like reviving a rusted pan or busting baked-on grime.
The round pads are easy to grip, so they’ll stay in your hand, no matter how hard you’re scrubbing. Still, they’re malleable, so you can get into every last nook and cranny to ensure your pan gets as clean as can be.
If there’s any downside, it’s that they do tend to unravel a bit over time. Given the price, it’s not a deal-breaker—just replace it with the next one in the pack of three.
Best for Stuck-On Food: G.CATACC Original Pan Scrapers Set, 4 Pack
Doesn’t fit into small grooves
Think of this 2.7 x 3-inch flexible thick polycarbonate plastic pan scraper as the ultimate scraper for your cast iron pan. Unlike stainless steel, it’s not tough enough to scrape the seasoning off. Still, it will easily remove any burnt food from the surface—especially if you heat the pan before tackling the mess. (It’s heat-resistant up to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Despite the material, you don’t have to worry about losing your grip. It has a grip indentation and non-slip texture to give you the leverage you need while getting the job done. Cleaning couldn’t be easier, either. Simply toss the scraper in the dishwasher.
Best Brush: Lodge Care Scrub Brush
Tough on grime
Won’t strip seasoning
Large brush head has a tendency to get in the way
From the makers of the most ubiquitous cast iron pan company comes a brush that you know is gentle enough for your best pieces. Because the bristles are made of stiff nylon, they scrub effectively without stripping the seasoning from your perfectly seasoned cast iron pan.
The handle—which is rubberwood that has a natural lacquer finish—also offers plenty of control, thanks to a sturdy and ergonomic design. You’ll get plenty of leverage, even for the most stuck-on bits of food.
Best for Grill Pans: Oxo Good Grips Cast Iron Pan Brush
Tough on grime
Gets into corners and crevices
Short handle can make it a little awkward to hold
If you own multiple types of cast iron cookware—say a skillet and a grill pan—you’ll want to scoop up this scrubber, as it's the most versatile of the bunch. The head features a variety of brushes and scrapers to make it ideal for cleaning both flat and ridged grill pans and griddles. Use the brushes to scour flat surfaces, then flip the tool and use the silicone scraper to take any burnt grime out of deeply ridged areas. And, if you’re working with a square pan, the design makes the tool great for getting into any stubborn corners, too.
Like other great scrubbers, you don’t have to worry about slipping while you work. Though silicone, the handle is non-slip, even when wet, to ensure you maintain your grip.
Best Chainmail: Amagabeli Stainless Steel Cast Iron Chainmail Scrubber
Tough on grime
Gets into corners and crevices
Can be hard to clean
A square of chainmail is a surprisingly great option for cleaning cast iron, since it’s wildly flexible and can bend into just about any area you need it to, from the corners of square pans to the deep grooves of griddles.
Like stainless steel, it’s tough on grime and burnt food, so proceed gently—especially if you don’t want to have to re-season your pan. Ultimately, if you find you’re really scrubbing hard, it’s probably best to reserve this tool for the toughest jobs and use a gentler brush or scraper for everyday cleaning.
Best Kit: Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware Care Kit
This kit, from the famed Lodge company, contains everything you need to keep your cast iron pots and pans in pristine condition. For everyday cleaning, you’ll swear by the scraper, which swiftly and safely removes food deposits from the cooking surface without disrupting its seasoning. For tougher jobs, turn to the chainmail scrubber to restore your item to its former glory.
We love that the kit also comes with a seasoning spray made of 100 percent canola oil to make it a cinch to protect and preserve your cooking surface after cleaning. As a bonus, you’ll also get a convenient handle cover that’s heat-resistant to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
The best overall cast iron scrubber is the Scrub Daddy (view at Amazon) because it’s a highly versatile sponge that can be used on everything from your everyday dinnerware to your tough-as-nails cast iron skillet. We love that it does the trick to remove burnt-on bits but won’t strip your cookware of its seasoning. If you cook with cast iron often, check out the Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware Care Kit (view at Williams Sonoma), which includes a scraper, scrubber, handle cover, and seasoning spray.
What to Look for in Cast Iron Scrubbers
Scrubbers come in a wide range of materials, from sponge-like pads to thick silicone, to stainless steel and even chainmail. While these are all technically fine to use on cast iron, it’s worth noting that the stronger materials should only be used for pans with a lot of burned-on food or rust, since they can strip your pan of its seasoning.
Some scrubbers are handled brushes, while others are more like sponges. This is largely a matter of personal preference. Opt for whichever variety you feel gives you more hand control.
Is chainmail good for cast iron?
Not only can you use chainmail scrubbers on cast iron, but they’re one of the best tools for scouring these heavy-duty pans. They expertly slough off stuck-on bits from both regular cast iron and enameled cast iron cookware to help keep your pans in pristine condition.
Can you use stainless steel scrubbers on cast iron?
Yes, stainless steel scrubbers do a great job removing any food remnants from cast iron, thanks to their rugged texture. Don’t worry: Your cast iron is durable enough to stand up to the tough material.
Can you use oven cleaner on cast iron?
Though oven cleaner shouldn’t be used to regularly clean your cast iron, it’s a great option to revive a rusty or otherwise damaged pan. Just note: It will strip the pan of all of its seasoning, so you’ll have to start from scratch.
How do you remove rust from cast iron?
As mentioned above, you can use oven cleaner to restore rusty cast iron to its former glory. Alternatively, a vinegar soak combined with a good scrubbing is a solid option. Simply mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water, let your pan soak in it for a few hours, then scrub with a scouring pad and rinse. Note: After this sort of cleaning, you will have to season your pan again.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This article was written by Brigitt Earley, a freelance writer who has spent the last 10-plus years researching the best home goods and kitchen items for various digital publications, including The Spruce and Good Housekeeping. Brigitt also has a degree in culinary arts. Between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, she cooks her family of six no less than 20 meals per week—sometimes using her Lodge cast iron skillet or griddle.