When I cook fish fillets in my cast iron griddle skillet, the skillet smells like fish even after I clean it. Is there a way to get that fish smell out?

I clean the skillet by first putting water in the pan for about 10 mins, then I use a paper towels to wipe the pan to clean it. I have to wipe about 3-5 times, each time with a clean paper towel, and I rinse the pan after every wipe. But it still has the fish smell.

Is there a better way to get the smell out, without soap or vinegar? Thanks

2 Answers 2


You need to use soap. You will not get the fish smell out without it.

The idea that you cannot use soap on cast iron is a myth. Washing your pan with soap will not only help with smells, it will help maintain a better seasoning.

  • Thanks for this reply. I did try that but it didn't work either. My next idea is to just cook some chicken in it. Commented May 14 at 4:23
  • Huh. how did you cook the fish? I make fish in my cast iron pan all the time, and have not had this issue. Wondering what's different.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented May 14 at 17:51

Besides washing with water and soap, I'd suggest heat. There's no way fish smell will still be present after putting the skillet in a hot oven (350F) for 45min or more.

Other solutions:

  • Let your cast iron skillet sit in boiling water for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Create a baking soda solution (5 parts water to 1 part baking soda) fill the skillet with the solution and boil it for 20-30 min. Let it rest overnight then wash it thoroughly.
  • mix vinegar + water (1:1) and boil in your pan for 20-30 min. Let it rest overnight and wash it.
  • squeeze 3 to 4 lemons and add the same amount of water, then leave it aside for an hour. Heat it for a few min and wash you skillet.
  • ultimately (but probably overkill) re-season your skillet. But probably any (or a combination) of the methods above will get rid of the smell before you resort to re-seasoning the skillet.

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