How to Polish Cast Iron

Cast iron is a rugged, durable material used for pots, pans, wood stoves and many other appliances and furnishings. While a cast-iron pan may work best seasoned and unpolished, decorative finishes on a wood stove can be brought to a shine with cleaning and polishing. Before deciding if your cast-iron piece needs to be polished, determine how you will use it. If it's a piece best suited for decor like fireplace andirons, polishing may be in order.

Clean your cast-iron piece first with a scrub brush dipped in warm, soapy water. If your cast iron is very greasy, consider using a degreaser instead.

Dry the piece thoroughly and examine it for any rust spots.

Remove rust with a piece of 50-grit sandpaper, if the rust is thick, or 80-grit if there are small spots. Continue sanding using 120-grit and 150-grit sandpaper, if needed. If you prefer, you can use a fine wire brush for rust removal.

Wipe the dust from sanding off the surface with a damp rag.

Apply a metal polish that's safe for cast iron or WD-40 to a piece of 0000-grade steel wool. Rub firmly on all areas you want polished.

Use another piece of steel wool, untreated with polish, to continue polishing the piece until it looks as shiny as you want it.

Apply a small amount of your polish to a clean rag and rub all newly polished areas of the cast iron. This will give the cast iron a protective finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Metal polish or WD-40
  • 0000-grade steel wool
  • Clean rags
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About the Author

Michelle Hogan is a writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.