Written by Author: Chef Raven Lee, Blog

How do I Clean My Wok With Rust To Brand-New?

To clean a wok with rust, you don’t need to be an expert. You just need to follow techniques that actually work without the need for hard labor.

I will share my experience of how being a chef I have always tried to maintain and keep my woks clean, even after busy cooking schedules. But there are some mistakes that lead me to several rusty woks and finally, I have revived them.

Read the guide to know some easy tips to maintain a wok to prevent rusting and clean a wok with rust.

These are the key highlights:

  • Maintaining techniques of a wok to prevent rust
  • Cleaning a seasoned wok to avoid rusting
  • How to clean a wok with rust
  • A great video on how to clean a wok with rust
Cleaning a wok with rust

Woks are a highly useful kitchen apparatus that keeps our taste buds craving for well-cooked, but at the same time, crunchy fresh food. However, they’re also one of the highest maintenance kitchen utensils that you can buy today.  

No wonder that the internet is filled with queries and pursuits of the better ways of cleaning a wok. I too have faced many such similar questions from colleagues as well as clients in my profession as a chef.  

So, let us explore the various ways of keeping your wok clean and tidy for hassle-free use, and, trust me when you’re making food for 100 plus people every day- you start to do naive things like considering a wok as your “spirit tool”! Just Kidding!! 

But what you do learn is a thing or two about keeping a wok shiny as new even after hundreds of hours of usage. 

Maintaining and cleaning a wok are neither rocket science nor complex art but a simple implementation of technique and timing. Two key pointers in this regard would be: 

  • Remember never ever to use soap while cleaning a rusty wok.  
  • Always invest in a long-lasting, well-built, and good quality wok. 

Read our list on best woks to buy on the market to get your hold on a good quality wok, that doesn’t rust easily.

Read on to know more!   

The Basics of Maintaining A Wok To Prevent Rusting 

So, considering your interest in the topic, you must be already facing some universal questions for effectively cleaning your wok. In order to do that, you need to first get the basics right.  

Woks are generally highly durable as well as long-lasting utensils considering their hard build quality and high-temperature tolerance.

However, due to their nature of usage, they usually fall prey to problems like rust that reduces their overall longevity.  

Woks are generally designed in a way that allows cooking food fast at very high heats vaporizing the moisture in them while allowing to fry them. This is due to the thin metal used in their construction.  

This leads to the food being dry but oily at the same time. However, sometimes the cooking heat temperature fails to reach the desired levels allowing the moisture to release from the food but not vaporize.  

This leads to the degrading of the seasoning used on the wok over time, thus, ending up in food sticking to the areas of the now unprotected wok.

Seeing this, you immediately end up scrubbing the same with detergent and hot water leading to the inevitable, RUST! 

Cleaning a seasoned wok is much easier compared to one that has food sticking all over its place due to unprotected metal surfaces.

Therefore, I will be giving you a few steps below to keep your wok maintained under such scenarios: 

  1. Properly season your wok before usage and always check its layers after every use 
  2. Try to cook at the highest heat range of your stove to help the wok perform better 
  3. Avoid cooking large amounts of food in a wok as they are made of thin metal and they cannot retain heat. Dumping too much food in your wok would lead the surface temperature to drop aggressively resulting in your food being boiling in its own moisture. 
  4. After cooking, always heat your wok and use some hot water to loosen the sticky food curbs and wash them away easily.  

Note: Remember to never use detergent and soap to clean your wok as this may lead to rusting.  

Cleaning A Seasoned Wok To Avoid Rusting

The first rule of keeping a seasoned wok clean is to avoid everything that leads to the destruction of the seasoning of your wok’s surface. It is easier to clean a seasoned wok when compared to cleaning a rusty wok 

The process involves just a humble sponge and access to hot water. Again, remember to avoid any type of soapy cleaners as they may damage the seasoning on the surface.

Thus, you should also avoid cleaning your wok in the dishwasher. 

Because in most of the cases even a good wok can get rusty because of cleaning it in the dishwasher.

And to clean a rusty wok like that you will need to put effort.

Most woks are of the carbon steel made so the process you are about to road should be applicable to clean all woks of the same made. 

Cleaning a seasoned carbon steel wok involves soaking your wok into hot water for as long as the food scrubs don’t loosen from the surface of the wok.  

Now, use the rough side of your sponge to rub off the dirt from the inside of your Wok surface. The loosened dirt will gradually come off and once they’re all removed, soak the wok in hot water again and let it dry.  

Your wok is now ready for reuse. Although it seems easy to clean a wok with seasoning, a rusted one is an altogether different game.

Let us explore the conditions and remedies in the next section! 

Cleaning Process of A Rusty Wok 

Most people decide to discard their wok once it starts catching rust. Don’t throw away your rusty wok, especially when it can be cleaned relatively easily.

Yes, it is possible to clean a wok with rust.

Also, with appropriate measures, you can prevent it from rusting in the future. However, this is not applicable in case of a non-stick wok that doesn’t rust. 

So, if you are using a carbon steel or cast iron wok and worried about catching rust then I have the right help guide for you to steer out of mucky trouble!

Therefore, without further ado, let us dive deep into the processes of keeping your wok shiny and rust-free.  

You’ll need a few pads of fine steel wool, fine sandpaper (if possible), and liquid detergent to clean your wok effectively. (Images are linked to Amazon)

Fine Steel Wool

Here are the steps that you can follow to start the cleaning process of a rusty wok: 

  1. Start by thoroughly rinsing your work with water.  
  2. Use the fine steel wool pads and liquid detergent to scrub the rust off the surface of the wok. 
  3. Rinse the wok with water and rub it with sandpaper then again continue the earlier process until all the rust comes off. 
  4. Thoroughly rinse the wok and let it dry 

Remember to not stop the scrubbing and rinsing process until all the rust is removed. Now that you have cleaned your wok from rust, you need to reseason it before further usage. Follow the below-mentioned process to do so: 

  • Set your wok to low heat on the hob and add some salted fat to melt in it 
  • Swirl the fat oil so that it covers as much of surface as possible in the wok 
  • Let it slide as a coat of oil on the surface of the wok 
  • Once the wok is heated up, turn off the heat 
  • Allow the fat to cool gradually 
  • Rub off any cold fat left on the surface, and wipe off any access fat 
  • Look for a shiny transparent layer over the wok to understand that its ready 

You can also use a teaspoon of vegetable oil for the seasoning instead of fat. Follow the same process for spreading it on the surface of the wok.  

Wrapping Up 

Now that you’re aware of the process of how to clean a wok with rust, you can now easily maintain the shine as well as longevity of your wok without any worries. Cleaning a wok is very easy if you know techniques and with my guide, you can set out to do so without ever worrying about rust and damage again. 

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