This cast iron scrubber has revolutionized the way I clean my pans
- February 14, 2023
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Ever since I bought my cast iron Lodge pan, it has become a permanent fixture on my stovetop. I use it to make pretty much everything except fried eggs (which is still my non-stick skillet’s domain). There’s crispy hash browns for weekend brunch, oven-roasted chicken with root veggies, apple crumble, sausage with beans and veggies.
Aside from being absolutely delicious, one thing these foods have in common is that they’re very adept at leaving a layer of dirt and/or blackened char on the bottom of my pan. I’ve been diligently searching for a cast iron cleaning method that would keep my cookware shiny and deposit free, but also wouldn’t be much work because I’m lazy. I’ve tried scrubbing the pan with kosher salt and a paper towel, hot water and a scrubbing brush, baking soda and a scouring pad, and even dish soap (a little is allowed if you’re repeating the season), but neither method became a habit. I was more likely to leave the dirty pan on the stove and pretend it didn’t exist until the next time I needed to use it. But I was determined not to let this pan meet the fate of my first cast-iron skillet, a cherry red Le Creuset square griddle pan that met its untimely end after a pepper-crusted steak went horribly wrong. May she rest in peace.
Then I found the Ringer – a cast-iron scrubber and miracle cleaning tool I discovered while browsing Amazon for bottle brushes, because that’s my idea of a good time. This delicate 8″ x 6″ band of alluring mail looks like it was hacked from a medieval knight’s suit. It’s the easiest method I’ve found to clean even the most stubborn bits of crust from cast iron.
Constructed of rust-resistant and extremely durable stainless steel chainmail, the interlocking rings create a textured surface ideal for removing encrusted debris. Here’s how it works: After you’ve finished cooking and your cast-iron skillet (or griddle or Dutch oven) is cool enough to handle, fill it up in the sink with some warm water, then take the ringer to town and scrub every inch of the surface of the pan. Rinse and repeat if you’re working with a heavy crust, then dry and lightly oil the pan as usual. It literally is. To clean the Ringer you can either loosen stuck food by holding it under the tap or simply throw it in the dishwasher.
If you’re like me and have a healthy skepticism about single-purpose tools (see avocado slicers, garlic presses), fear not. In addition to cast-iron cookware, this chain scrubber can also take on crispy pizza stones, sheet pans, woks and Pyrex dishes. And unlike a regular kitchen sponge, you don’t have to worry about bacteria and it will last a lifetime. Confidence: If you use your pan as much as I do, this cast-iron cleaner is the best $18 you’ll spend. Come on, Pepper Crust Steak!
This article was originally published in 2016 and updated in 2023 by Megan Wahn.