I’m always looking around thrift stores and garage sales for deals on old cast iron cookware. A lot of those times when I do find a good deal, the cast iron is crusted and coated with years of grease and grime. In the past I’ve tried to use good old fashioned soap and water, a plastic scrubber, and a lot of elbow grease (followed by ibuprofen when I’m done.) After all that scrubbing and a sore arm, I’m usually wondering why I even bother.
But then one day I was watching HGTV and they were talking about old cast iron cookware. Much to my surprise, they recommended using Easy-Off Oven Cleaner. I would have thought that a chemical cleaner would be to harsh. But the host said that it was a great way to strip off the gunk. If you decide to give it a try, please do use the Easy-Off outside and make sure you have plenty of ventilation.
Of course, after cleaning with Easy-Off, you have to re-seal the cookware with oil and re-cure them. To me that’s a small price to pay to turn a dirty but good deal into a versatile piece of cookware that will outlast me.