How to Clean an Electric Skillet
Electric skillets are addictingly helpful in the kitchen with their ability to cook or bake a vast number of meals in a variety of ways, especially for large groups of people. Beyond that, they offer an alternative to heating the oven or stove, as well as provide an additional burner during those high-traffic holidays and family gatherings.
However, perhaps you are set to go with your first electric skillet meal and you’ve only now realized that you’re unsure how to properly clean the skillet. After all, this new, almost magical, cooking appliance is run by electricity and has a base with cords and a heating element to boot. What is the safest way to wash the skillet? Further, if you can’t immerse it, how can it be properly cleaned and sanitized?
The answers greatly depend on the version of your skillet and the user manual for your specific model should always be followed, but we have pro tips for how to clean an electric skillet, regardless of if it is dishwasher-safe or not even immersible. It’s important for your skillet to last through the years with proper care, and it’s even more important for your appliance to cook food safely in a sanitized pan. Let’s chat all about it!
Gather These Items
1. Items for Dishwasher-Safe Skillets:
You can certainly choose a dish rag rather than a sponge, or any other kind of scrubbing brush you prefer for your electric skillet. However, we would suggest avoiding an abrasive scrubbing surface if your skillet has a Teflon non-stick coating, as it could become scratched or worn down.
2. Items for Immersible Hand-Wash Only Skillets:
Dish Drying Rack
Depending on the size of your skillet, you may not need a large sink to wash your appliance. However, you will want to make sure you can adequately turn your skillet within your sink for proper rinsing and efficient scrubbing space. Additionally, as stated earlier, you can use a preferred rag or brush other than a sponge to clean your skillet, simply be aware of the abrasion against any non-stick coatings.
3. Items for Non-Immersible Skillets:
User manuals for these non-immersible skillets typically state to use a damp cloth for the cleaning process. I have found paper towels to be a simple alternative, but feel free to use a cloth if preferred. If you would rather not use paper towels, you’ll want to have two cloths on hand, as you’ll need one for washing and one for drying.
4. Items for Removing Tough Stains:
Plastic Scouring Pad or Damp Cloth
Occasionally, electric skillets may become stained after certain dishes, such as red sauces or cooked-on meat. This is more common in ceramic skillets, but could occur in any skillet. If you’re looking to scrub out those stains, gather these two items and you’ll soon have a stain-free frying pan!
Our Cleaning Tutorials
Dishwasher-safe skillets are by far the easiest skillets to clean after a large meal, and for obvious reasons. When you’ve already spent copious amounts of time preparing the food, no one wants to spend additional time scrubbing away at the dishes. The invention of the dishwasher-safe electric skillet was a brilliant idea, and it couldn’t make cleaning the skillet any easier!
#1. Unplug the Heating Element
With all electric skillets, whether immersible and dishwasher-safe or not, unplugging the heating element should always be your first step. Some skillets have helpful removable bases as well, and if yours does, once it is cool, go ahead and remove the base in addition to the cord.
#2. Discard the Grease
Begin by clearing out any extra cooking grease in the skillet. Considering electric skillets are often used for frying bacon and eggs, there’s bound to be some leftover grease.
PRO TIP: Our suggestion would be to pour the grease into a disposable container, such as an empty coffee can or food package and simply throw it away. If you’d rather not toss a container or you don’t have one to spare, you can always pour the grease into a bowl and let it solidify in the fridge. At that point, scoop it into a sealable bag and toss it in the trash. Whatever you choose to do, we highly advise against pouring it down the drain. Despite the amount of hot water you use to wash it away, it can still eventually solidify and clog the pipes.
#3. Rinse it Out
With hot water, we recommend rinsing out the extra food bits and coated grease before putting the skillet in the dishwasher. Though this may seem somewhat counterproductive to using the dishwasher, it will help your dishwasher successfully clean it completely. There is no need to actually scrub it out with soap; simply remove the remaining food pieces to give your dishwasher the best chance of cleaning it thoroughly.
#4. Load the Dishwasher!
Finally, go ahead and clear out the bottom rack of your dishwasher to make room for the skillet. Simply place your skillet securely in the rack, ensuring it won’t fall or bump anything fragile while the dishwasher runs. Now, you can either go ahead and run the dishwasher or wait until it’s full. Either way, your skillet should be clean and ready to go when you unload it!
Hand-Wash Only Skillets:
Hand washing your skillet can be more tricky than just rinsing it and tossing it in the dishwasher, but it’s still easy enough if you can immerse it in your sink. Though hand washing a bulky skillet in your sink can be a bit of a chore or make a mess of sloshed water on your counters, it only takes a few minutes and is well worth the convenience of using an electric skillet.
#1. Remove the Cord
As with the dishwasher-safe skillets, even if yours is immersible, you will still need to make sure the cord and heating element are safely disconnected before beginning. By disconnected, this doesn’t mean simply unplugged from the wall, but removed from the skillet itself. If this isn’t disconnected, your skillet will likely be damaged from the water.
#2. Drain off the Grease
Again, with any skillet, before cleaning you’ll want to safely discard any leftover grease. Our favorite method is to simply pour it into an empty disposable container and toss it in the trash.
#3. Fill the Sink
We’ve found that the best way to wash an electric skillet is to begin by filling the kitchen sink about halfway with hot, soapy water. This will help with any grease or food that has dripped over the edges and ensures that the exterior of the skillet gets cleaned. I prefer this method so I know that anything on the bottom or edges is softening while I scrub the interior. Ideally, remaining grime on the exterior will merely wipe away when you begin to scrub it.
#4. Scrub Away
At this point, gently lower the skillet into the soapy water, which will likely fill the sink as it is displaced. Run hot water over the skillet and with a sponge and dish soap, scrub away the food particles and any remaining grease until the frying pan is sanitized. Rinse the soap off with the hot, running water, and gently turn the pan to wash the sides and exterior of the skillet with the sponge.
PRO TIP: Once you’ve scrubbed every part of the skillet, including the handles if they are attached, drain the sink. Let the skillet sit in the sink while the water drains away, and once the sink has drained, rinse off any remaining soap with hot water.
#5. Air Dry
Though it is likely fine to towel-dry your skillet, it may be a better choice, in the end, to let it air dry in a dish rack. When considering immersible skillets that aren’t dishwasher-safe, it’s likely that the handles will remain attached throughout washing and the heating element port will be exposed. If it’s immersible, it is made to handle the water just fine, but it may be helpful to let it dry in a dish rack completely before storing it away. Air-drying will help guarantee all the water droplets evaporate. It would be easy for water to remain trapped in the handles even when towel-drying.
Certain skillets require very careful cleaning and care. While this is not as common to find these days with the majority of skillets being made dishwasher-safe, some are still not immersible and should be cleaned out of the sink. You may feel anxious about making certain the skillet is entirely sanitized after each use, but we have a few suggestions for easing your mind. It’s entirely possible to properly clean a skillet without submerging it, all it takes is a dash more of creativity in the cleaning process!
#1. Remove the Heating Element
Just as with each style of electric skillets so far, you’ll want to completely disconnect the cord and heating element from the skillet in order to safely clean it. Even without immersing the skillet, it is easier to clean once the cord is removed, and it also significantly reduces the chances of water damage.
#2. Discard the Cooking Oil
Once again, be sure to discard any extra cooking oil before beginning to clean the skillet. This is especially important for non-immersible skillets, considering any remaining grease will need to be wiped away in the cleaning process. Save yourself some time and energy, and pour out the extra oil.
To clean a non-immersible skillet, begin by dampening a paper towel or clean cloth with hot water. We personally prefer paper towels as they can be tossed in the trash afterward for easier cleanup, but if you’d prefer cloth, that will work as well. With the damp towel, wipe down any part of the skillet that is messy. Once you run the towel over it the first time, dampen it again and drizzle soap either on the towel or directly on the skillet. Gently scrub the skillet with the soap and damp towel.
Next, dampen a fresh towel and thoroughly wipe away the soap, re-dampening the towel and wiping down the skillet as many times as necessary. Once you’re certain the soap residue is gone and the skillet is clean, either towel-dry the appliance or leave it to dry in a dish rack. The dish rack may not be necessary since this skillet was not submerged in water, but if it’s convenient, feel free to leave it to air dry.
Scrubbing Out Tough Stains
If your skillet is still left with stains after you’ve washed it with soap, we have a great suggestion for you! It’s completely possible to remove those stains with just a bit of elbow grease, patience, and baking soda.
#1. Sprinkle on the Baking Soda
To begin, pour a moderate amount of baking soda over the stains. You’ll want enough to cover the stain, and it doesn’t take too much. Feel free to sprinkle on as much as you feel comfortable with.
#2. Add the Water to Form a Paste
Next, add water to your baking soda. You can drip the water onto the baking soda with a spoon, measuring cup, or even a drinking glass. Mix the baking soda and water until it forms a paste.
#3. Give it Time
Let the baking soda mixture sit on the stained area for at least a few minutes, if not longer. For the toughest stains, you may want to let it soak for an hour or so. The longer the baking soda sits, the easier it will come out.
After it has sat, use a damp cloth or even a plastic scouring pad (I use a non-scratch dishwand) to gently scrub the stains. Some stains may take more effort than others, but take care not to scratch the ceramic. If the stain isn’t coming up, add more baking soda and water, and let it sit for longer.
Once the stain has lifted, use your cloth to wipe the baking soda paste away, and dry the pan thoroughly with a clean towel. Your skillet should now be stain-free!
The Importance of Hassle-Free Cleaning
Though electric skillets are a saving grace in the kitchen for cooking and baking, cleaning them can be somewhat intimidating. It’s no secret that electric skillets are unique cooking appliances, and because of that, special care must often be taken with them. For whatever frying pan I use in my kitchen, I prefer a peace of mind about being able to easily and successfully clean it afterwards. In fact, if I find myself not being able to efficiently clean an awkward or cumbersome dish, I often won’t continue using it. Electric skillets are far too handy of a kitchen appliance to avoid using!
Do you have any other suggestions for cleaning an electric skillet? If you do, we’d love to hear what it is! Please let us know in the comments, and if you liked this tutorial, feel free to share it with your friends and family!
I am Joss, the creator and editor of In the Kitch. I am inviting you on this food journey with me to learn, grow and bring out that inner chef in you. I hope to inspire you to get creative in your own kitchen!