How to Clean a Dutch Oven the Right Way

Dutch oven with pasta ingredients
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Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins - 2 hrs, 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Dutch ovens are one of the most versatile pieces of cookware in any kitchen. They can be used on a stovetop or in the oven, and there are even models made to use outdoors over a campfire. Straight-sided and deep with a tight-fitting lid, a Dutch oven can be used for preparing soups and stews, simmering pasta sauces, braising meats, baking bread, and as a serving vessel.

Sold at a wide range of prices, the best Dutch ovens are made of heavy, durable materials. You can find them in cast iron, enameled cast iron, stainless steel, and ceramic stoneware. Sizes range from individual 1/2 quart ovens to 15-quart ovens large enough to hold a turkey.

If you care for your Dutch oven correctly, it can last for generations. The method of cleaning depends on the type of material used to manufacture the oven.

Tips

Follow these tips when cleaning any type of Dutch oven:


  • Allow the cookware to cool completely before plunging into or filling it with water.
  • Clean the exterior of the oven first if there have been boil-overs or spills.
  • Dry the oven thoroughly before storing.
  • Place a kitchen towel or paper towel between the lid and the oven when storing to prevent scratches.
  • While ceramic Dutch ovens can go into an automatic dishwasher, hand-washing every type of Dutch oven will increase its longevity.

How Often to Clean a Dutch Oven

As with most cooking or kitchen tools, a Dutch oven should be cleaned after every use. Cast iron Dutch ovens may not need a thorough scrubbing after every use, but the interior should still be wiped clean.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Non-abrasive plastic scraper
  • 1 Non-abrasive sponge or dishcloth
  • 1 Microfiber drying cloth

Materials

  • 1 Dishwashing liquid
  • 1 Baking soda or gentle scrubbing powder (Bar Keepers Friend or Bon Ami)
  • 1 Paper towels
  • 1 Vegetable oil

Instructions

How to Clean an Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Considered by most cooks to be a top choice, enameled cast iron Dutch ovens offer the even cooking performance of cast iron but are easier to care for thanks to the enameled coating.

  1. Clean the Exterior and Lid

    To remove baked-on splatters, dip a damp non-abrasive sponge in dry baking powder and gently scrub away the food particles. Rinse with warm water.

  2. Clean the Enameled Interior

    Since most foods do not stick to enameled finishes, the interior should be easy to clean with just some dishwashing liquid, hot water, and a sponge. If there is stuck-on food, use a non-metallic scraper to loosen the food or fill the oven with hot water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid and leave it to soak for several hours.

    As a last resort, use baking soda or a gentle powder like Bar Keeper's Friend or Bon Ami and a soft sponge to remove any remaining food.

    Warning

    • Do not use steel wool or metal scrapers on enameled finishes because they cause minute scratches that cause foods to stick.
    • Do not bang enameled cookware on sharp edges because the enamel can chip.
    • Do not be surprised if the white enameled interior of the oven becomes discolored or stained. This is the nature of well-used and loved Dutch ovens. The staining will not affect the flavors of the food you prepare.
  3. Dry Thoroughly

    Use a microfiber cloth to dry the inside and outside of the enameled oven to prevent water-spotting.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Follow the same steps when cleaning unfinished indoor or outdoor-use cast iron Dutch ovens.

  1. Wipe Away Food Residue

    When the cast iron oven is cool enough to handle but still warm, use a paper towel to wipe away food residue from the inside and outside and the lid of the oven.

    For a properly seasoned cast iron Dutch oven, this may be all of the cleaning needed.

  2. Remove Food and Oily Residues

    If the interior surface of the oven has stuck-on food or feels oily, use a few drops of dishwashing liquid on a damp sponge or dishcloth to wipe out the oven. If food remains, use a non-abrasive plastic scraper to tackle the problem.

    Since cast iron rusts, never leave the Dutch oven to soak in a sink of water or use steel wool or a metal scraper. Both will harm the seasoned finish.

  3. Rinse and Dry Immediately

    Rinse the cast iron in hot water and use a microfiber towel to dry the Dutch oven immediately. Do not leave it to air dry, because rust can develop.

    To be sure that cast iron is completely dry before storing, warm the utensil on a medium-low cooktop setting or in an oven set at 250 to 300°F for five to 10 minutes. Allow the Dutch oven to cool completely before storing.

  4. Reseason the Cast Iron if Needed

    After cleaning, add 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil to the interior of the oven and use paper towels to distribute it evenly over the inside and outside surfaces, rubbing the oil into the cast iron until it is absorbed.

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Dutch Oven

Stainless steel Dutch ovens are lightweight and easy to clean.

  1. Wash in Hot, Soapy Water

    Once the Dutch oven is cool enough to handle, wash in a sink of hot, soapy water. Rinse well and dry immediately to prevent water spots.

  2. Remove Stuck-on Food With a Baking Soda Boil

    To remove stuck-on food, pour four cups of water into the Dutch oven. Add two or three tablespoons of baking soda. Bring the mixture to a simmer and boil for one minute. Allow to cool and wash as usual.

How to Clean a Ceramic Stoneware Dutch Oven

Ceramic stoneware ovens can break if dropped or shatter from extreme temperature changes, so handle with care. While the oven can go into the dishwasher, hand washing is the preferred cleaning method.

  1. Wash in Hot, Soapy Water

    Once the ceramic Dutch oven has cooled, wash with hot water and dishwashing liquid. Avoid citrus-based cleaners that can dull the exterior glossy finish.

  2. Avoid Scratches

    If there is burnt-on food, allow the Dutch oven to soak in the soapy solution for several hours and use a nylon scrubber to remove the food. Never use metal utensils or scouring pads that can scratch the surface.