A dry cloth, a chainmail scrubber, a sponge — there are plenty of tools that people recommend for cleaning cast iron cookware, but all of these tools have different applications. The best cast iron cleaning brushes, for example, are ideal for a thorough cleaning session before you re-season your skillet or griddle. That said, you can't use any old brush and hope it'll get the job done; the best options have the right shape to suit your specific cookware and are made from dense, sturdy materials that can handle any job.
For the most part, there are two types of brushes you can buy: a handheld brush that fits in your palm, or a handled brush with an elongated shape. Handheld designs offer more control, but may not reach into tight spots as well as their handled counterparts. Before you make any purchases, take inventory of your cast iron and determine which design will best meet your needs.
Next, take a look at the bristle material. You don't want anything too soft or gentle here. Instead, opt for harder materials with just a little give like nylon, which will effectively remove baked-on food particles before seasoning.
Based on the above criteria and some enthusiastic reviewer feedback, these are the best brushes for cleaning your cast iron.
1. The Overall Best Cast Iron Cleaning Brush
The Crown Choice cast iron cleaning brush sets itself apart from the competition in several ways: For one, the handle is made from sturdy plastic instead of wood, so it's less likely to break — especially where the head meets the handle. It's bristles are dense, stiff, and well-suited for cleaning both flat pans and textured griddles. A wide brush head with bristles on the top for hard-to-reach spots and strong back bristles make this a cleaning powerhouse, and this brush comes with a second replacement head, free of charge.
One reviewer wrote: "Solidly perfect cleaning scrubber for my Lodge grill pan. Comes with a replacement head, so bonus. Gets it clean without ruining the patina. Must buy for cast iron cookers."
2. A Budget Pick With A Longer Bamboo Handle
If you're looking for something that gets the job done for less than $10, there's the Full Circle Tenacious C brush. It's not indestructible, but it does have extra-tough nylon bristles, a comfortable ergonomic handle, and a built-in scraper to remove stuck-on food. Like all of Full Circle's products, it's made from eco-friendly materials like recycled bamboo plastic by a company with a deep commitment to sustainability.
One reviewer wrote: "I got this after I got my cast iron skillet and realized I had nothing at home to properly clean it. This brush was listed in some article as one of the tools that’s really effective in cleaning a cast iron skillet (along with vegetable oil). I was happy with the price and decided to give it a shot. [...] Works like a charm!"
3. The Best Chainmail & Brush Combo
Chainmail is another great tool for removing stuck-on residue without damaging your pan's seasoning, which is why this two-in-one set is a buyer favorite with a 4.6-star rating. It comes with both a stainless steel chainmail scrubber (complete with a hanging hook) and a handheld wooden brush with stiff bristles. Together, they help you keep your cast iron looking and cooking like a dream— and if you're not happy with your purchase, this company offers a lifetime guarantee.
One reviewer wrote: "The bristles on the brush are firm and sturdy; does not buckle under a little 'elbow grease.' The chain link sticks to the brush and adds a little more 'umph' to cleaning. [...] Well [worth] the buy!"
4. The Best Brush For Cast Iron Griddles
Because of their groove design, cast iron griddles can be a little more difficult to clean when compared to flat pans. Luckily, the OXO Good Grips cast iron brush is perfectly suited for this purpose. Instead of one solid head, this brush has over a dozen tiny circles that contain short, stiff bristles, so it reaches deep between groves to remove any baked-on residue. It also has a built-in scraper and a comfortable, nonslip handle.
One reviewer wrote: "I hated cleaning my cast iron griddle pan before I bought this. This magically makes it super easy to clean the pan without ruining the seasoning. Hot water, salt, use this tool and the pan is clean. [...] This makes life so easy."
5. The Best Full Kit For Cast Iron
Last but not least, if you're new to cooking with cast iron, splurging on an all-in-one care kit like this one from Lodge could save you some money in the long run by ensuring that you don't need to replace your cookware after a few years. It comes with a handheld nylon-bristled brush for cleaning, a re-seasoning spray made from 100% pure vegetable oil, a pan scraper to remove residue, a use and care booklet, and a silicone handle that's safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Use this full care kit, and your cast iron can be passed down for generations.
One reviewer wrote: "This kit is a must-have for anyone with a cast iron.The little red scraper is ideal for stuck-on food and makes getting it off very easy. The brush perfectly polishes and also gets rid of any food debris, I do that step second. The handle - oh man, you cannot cook with a cast iron without this rubber handle. And the spray helps keep it from rusting. This kit is great."