You really only need three different skillets in your kitchen, and a cast iron skillet is one of them. Crank up the heat on the stove, get the cast iron hot, splash in a couple tablespoons vegetable oil, sear a piece of meat—and you’ll get the most gorgeous deeply golden crust you’ve ever seen. The only two drawbacks to cast iron skillets: they’re heavy (we like to keep ours out on the stove so it’s ready to use at all times) and they’re tricky to get squeaky clean.
Word on the street is that your cast iron will last you a lifetime if you care for it properly. That means seasoning and cleaning it correctly. It also means that you can never use soap, which will strip away that slick seasoned finish you’ve worked so hard to build up. And that’s supposed to be okay. Cook steak in it at night, and pancakes in the morning. Some of the steak grease residue might build up, but hey, that’s just seasoning, right?
Sometimes we pour some kosher salt in our cast irons and scrub with a sponge to remove residual clingy food. But sometimes it takes a special brand of elbow grease to get the job done. That’s where our new favorite $15 gadget The Ringer comes in.
Made from rustproof stainless steel, The Ringer looks like a sheet of chainmail—because it is. The same material was actually originally used to protect police officers from stab wounds. The brand says: “When life is on the line, you can’t risk chinks in your armor. We bring that same strength to your kitchen sink and believe in quality that won’t let you down.” Lest there were thousands and thousands of five star reviews on the Amazon page, we would have been skeptical of the bold claim. Needless to say, we were excited to test it out.
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Happily, the Ringer blew all of our expectations out of the water. Its first task was a gunked up cast iron skillet that had been left out to dry for weeks. Gross, we know, and seemingly a lost cause. The Ringer was comfortable to grip in one hand, and scrubbed everything off the surface in less than 3 minutes. Way more abrasive than kosher salt, it glided over the pan without scratching it like steal wool does. We then went on to use the gadget after cooking steak, bacon, and eggs. The fine mesh remarkably cleaned off extra grease a bit like soap would, without stripping the skillet of its precious seasoning.
Other perks? The Ringer is dishwasher-safe and has a loop so you can hang it up next to pots and pans. It removes grit from every surface imaginable, including stovetops, sinks, baking sheets, Dutch ovens, and stainless steel pots and pans. And unlike sponges, you never need to replace it. The brand is so confident you’ll love the product, it even offers a money back guarantee.
When cleaning your cast iron skillet is this easy, you’ll be inspired to use it more often. Check out these recipes to get the creative juices flowing.
This story originally appeared on realsimple.com.