Learning how to clean a Dutch oven properly is an important step in protecting your investment against wear and tear and other forms of damage. Although the enamelled cast iron of most Dutch ovens is naturally strong and resilient, it can only handle so much without proper maintenance and cleaning.
Don’t worry. If you’ve just bought your first cast-iron Dutch oven or have struggled with removing stuck-on food from your Dutch oven, for now, don’t worry. There are various great ways you can improve your chances of successfully cleaning your kitchen utensil without damaging your expensive accessory.
Here are some important things to know about cleaning a cast-iron Dutch oven, regardless of whether you have an enamel coating or a standard cast iron product without enamel.
How to Clean a Dutch Oven That Has Stuck-on Food
The great thing about a cast-iron Dutch oven is it’s remarkably versatile. The right Dutch ovens can handle all kinds of cooking, making everything from stews and curries to chillies. Unfortunately, exposed cast iron can also fall victim to damage over time. If you notice burnt bits of food on the cooking surface, letting your pot cool, you will need a cleaning plan.
Cast Iron Dutch Oven
The first thing you should know is that there are two common Dutch ovens. One is the enamelled cast iron Dutch oven, while the other is the basic iron Dutch oven.
When you clean a cast-iron Dutch oven without enamel on the surface, you’ll have a slightly harder time than cleaning enamelled cast iron. This is because the enamel helps prevent stuck-on food from sticking too much.
Cast iron companies offer the option to go without the enamel if you want an experience similar to a cast-iron skillet without the extra expense.
Enamelled Coated Cast-Iron Dutch Oven
If you’re cleaning a cast-iron Dutch oven with an enamel coating, you’ll also need to use a non-scratch sponge or a plastic scraper to ensure you don’t harm the enamelled finish. However, everyday cleaning with regular soap should be easy. With a full iron skillet, you can use stainless steel scrubbers and pretty heavy-duty materials without worrying about damaging the pan.
Usually, the easiest way to clean away stuck-on food or oil residue is to fill the pot with warm soapy water, allowing it to soak overnight. You can also add one or two tablespoons of baking soda to the pan and boil the water for ten minutes.
How to Clean a Dutch Oven – Method 1 (Cast-Iron)
Step 1: Wipe It
If you want to clean a cast-iron Dutch oven without the enamelled finish, you must start wiping down the pot. To improve cooking performance, you should regularly season the cooking surface of your Dutch oven. Then, after each use, wipe down the pot with a dry paper towel to stop anything from sticking.
Step 2: Fill It With Water and Bring It to a Boil
After wiping the pot down, fill the pot with water (usually around four cups will do), ensuring any burnt-on bits of food are covered in water. Bring the water to a boil to help loosen the residue. Adding some baking soda can also help break away some of the food that won’t loosen on its own.
Step 3: Scrub Gently
Use a scrubbing brush or a sponge to scrub the interior of the cast-iron Dutch oven after you’ve let the pot cool. You can use dish soap instead of baking soda if you prefer. If you choose the latter, stick with two heaping tablespoons.
Step 4: Add Some Baking Soda
Suppose there’s still food stuck to your cast iron even after you’re done scrubbing with dish soap. You can pour warm water and baking soda into the Dutch oven’s interior. This is to provide a baking soda bath. Depending on how stubborn the stains are, you may need to leave the Dutch oven to sit for a few hours or overnight.
Step 5: Dry and Re-Season
Dry your Dutch oven thoroughly, and consider adding an extra amount of cooking oil to re-season the pan. Most cast iron companies recommend seasoning your pan frequently to keep it in good condition.
While you can use steel wool with dish soap to remove burnt-on stains from your Dutch oven if it has no enamel, it’s usually best to avoid scraping the iron too much as this can make your pan look less attractive.
Leaving your pan overnight to soak might be better than damaging the oven to the point where you can’t use the pan anymore.
How to Clean a Dutch Oven – Method 2 (Enamel)
You can follow the same guidelines for cleaning your Dutch oven if you have an enamelled cast-iron one. While some enamelled cast iron Dutch ovens will be suitable for dishwashing, we’d recommend sticking to washing your Dutch oven with warm water and dish soap where possible.
You can also consider making a baking soda paste if you need help cleaning a dutch oven, but you don’t want to harm the enamel.
Like the steps mentioned above, the first step in cleaning your enamelled Dutch oven is to wash it thoroughly with a soapy sponge. The next steps would be:
Step 1: Soak With Hot Water Mixture
Fill your oven with hot water, two tablespoons of baking soda, and a splash of dishwashing liquid, then cover it with the lid.
Step 2: Let It Sit
Leave the Dutch oven to sit for about fifteen minutes, pour the water, and use a sponge to remove any residue afterwards. If you’re having difficulty with numerous tough stains, you can leave the baking soda to work overnight.
Step 3: Deal With Tough Stains
If you’re dealing with serious stains, make a paste using one part water and three-parts baking soda and cover the stains. Put the lid on and let your Dutch oven sit overnight. Scrub the stains with a dish scrubber and hot water in the morning.
Step 4: Final Wash
Remember to give your Dutch oven a final wash and rinse after scrubbing it with soap. Make sure to let it dry completely. You shouldn’t need to season the iron before using the Dutch oven again.
How Do You Get Black or Brown Stains Out of a Dutch Oven?
Even if you’re worried about serious built on grime, it’s important to be cautious about cleaning a Dutch oven. Though some Dutch ovens claim to be dishwasher safe, it’s always best to avoid placing any pot or pan into the dishwasher just in case. This is just a precaution because you might find you can’t use your pan anymore afterwards.
If you’re dealing with brown stains or dark stains on your enamelled cast iron Dutch oven, how to clean this mess isn’t as complicated as it seems. You can clean a Dutch oven with brown stains using the aforementioned paste. To clean a Dutch oven with stains, leave your baking soda mixture overnight and rinse clean in the morning.
Do not use steel wool when you clean a Dutch oven with an enamel coating, which can harm the enamel. Another option is to fill your Dutch oven with water and bring it to a boil. Interestingly, you can add a few big spoonfuls of baking soda to the mix.
However, remember to slow down when adding baking soda to the Dutch oven, as it can bubble and foam up quite quickly. Instead, allow the mixture to simmer while using a wooden spoon to scrape away any blackened or burnt-on stains. Once you’ve scraped everything away, you can drain the pot and wash it with dish soap to remove any remaining marks or stains.
Whether you have a standard cast-iron Dutch oven or an enamelled cast-iron Dutch oven, learning how to clean a Dutch oven correctly is crucial when making sure your investment stands the test of time. While a good Dutch oven can be an extremely versatile and useful product, it also needs proper maintenance to perform well meal after meal.
So when you’re dealing with many tough stains, it’s often best to leave it overnight with a baking soda and hot water mix inside. You can also clean a Dutch oven by making a paste with one tablespoon of water to every three tablespoons of baking soda.
In general, it’s best to avoid using steel wool on your Dutch oven unless you have a cast iron product without any enamel coating. Even then, scrubbing your iron too harshly with steel wool could cause it to look damaged over time.
Tough Stains to Your Dutch Oven? Say No More!
Cleaning tough stains has never been this easy. We hope that this article on how to clean a Dutch oven has been helpful to your daily kitchen routine.
Remember, where possible, it’s often best to clean your Dutch oven quickly after using it: in this way, you will stop food and sticky substances from drying while you enjoy your meal.