Cleaning

Best of the Hotline: How to Clean an Enameled Cast Iron Pot

October 11, 2014

Some questions on the Hotline have staying power, and for good reason -- they cover the questions we ask ourselves time and time again. Join us as we revisit some of the most popular.

Today: We've all been there -- kitchen mishaps happen. Here are the best ways to clean your Le Creuset and other enameled cast iron pots.


Le Creuset is a precious investment. Whether you acquired a few pieces thanks to your wedding registry or saved up for months to buy one, they are timeless pieces to add to your kitchen collection. A sturdy enameled cast iron pot should last a lifetime -- even if it gets a bit roughed up from your culinary adventures. 

Early contest winner and former Food52 employee Peter came home with 40 pounds of apples from the farmers market to make a big batch of applesauce in his massive Le Creuset. Unfortunately, the applesauce didn’t behave the way he wanted, and what he was left with was a blackened, burnt bottom in his Dutch oven. After soaking it overnight, scraping it with a sharp spatula, and scrubbing it, he was desperate for help and turned to the Hotline for cleaning advice -- where people have been sharing tips and tricks for 3 years and counting:

Soak, Soak Baby -- with Baking Soda:

  • StacyG suggests soaking the pot overnight with baking soda and hot water. The next morning, scrub it with a dish brush and repeat the process if needed. Citygal approves of this method -- she had the same thing happen to her when she made applesauce and StacyG's suggestion worked perfectly.
  • Sam1148 offers a similar solution: “Add about 1/2 inch of hydrogen peroxide to the pot. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of baking soda. Heat until it starts to bubble up. It needs the heat to start the reaction. Simmer for about ten minutes and brush with a scrub brush. Repeat as needed.” The method worked like magic for a number of community members, including dnfenwick, mikefromholden, and Ginatralala
  • Another tried and true method is a white vinegar and baking soda soak, suggested by aargersi and boulangere. Simmer white vinegar in the pot with a bit of baking soda added to it, scrubbing as needed. It took latoscana a few rounds of doing this, but it did eventually work and now she’s left with a spotless pot. 

More: Save yourself the trouble of a burnt pot and roast your applesauce instead.

Soak, Soak Baby -- with Something Stronger:

  • Dnbaer uses dishwasher detergent on her Le Creuset, and suggests using a brand that contains enzymes. Dissolve the detergent in hot water in the pot, and let the pot soak overnight. Gale seconds this method: “It softens the burnt on crud and makes it much easier to scrub off -- whether it's Le Creuset or stainless cookware.”
  • Put your other household detergent to work with the method frausimon outlines. She suggests filling the pot with one part laundry detergent and three parts water, boiling it for 5 to 7 minutes, letting it cool in the pot, and then scrubbing as needed. Once it’s clean, coat the inside with white vinegar using a soft cloth -- this will help make the inside shiny again.

Finally, Burnt Offerings provides some words of comfort if all else fails, nothing works, and you're still left with a scarred pot. Her favorite pot has burnt spots from rice grains that may never go away. “I’ve learned to live with them and would miss them in the bottom of my pot now. It has character.”

Tell us: How do you clean your precious pots?

Photos by James Ransom

51 Comments

Susie W. September 3, 2018
I put chlorine bleach and water in mine - let soak overnight. Mine is 25 years old; some stains are never going away.<br />
 
Fran M. October 12, 2017
Dryer sheet, a little dawn detergent, hot water & I let it soak overnight. I don’t use dryer sheets so I usually ask a friend for one.
 
Steven W. September 4, 2017
Bon ami?
 
Gabrielle April 11, 2017
The Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda method is a miracle.
 
Joe C. January 5, 2017
the Oxi Clean is for inside, not to soak the whole pot.
 
Marie F. January 5, 2017
The instructions that come with Le Creuset specifically says DO NOT soak the pot in water. So I am a bit confused.
 
barb48 January 4, 2017
Does anyone have DRU HOLLAND enameled pots? I see the comments here are about Le Crueset. My Dru is from the 1950s and and when I took it from my mom, I tried to scrub the inside of the stains. I wound up scrubbing down to the cast iron and the food tastes funky. Is there a way to re-coat the inside? I tried wiping some oil in it, but it didn't work, as it's not like a regular black, cast iron pan.
 
Pumpkiness January 4, 2017
Just tried the hydrogen peroxide method and it was amazing! Even poured the leftover into the inverted lid and it cleaned it up too!!!!!
 
Elise V. April 22, 2016
I sent an e mail to LC about three years ago asking about what to do to the non stick finish that is coming off the inside of my large cast iron skillet. I never heard anything from them! My mom gave me her precious LC cast iron skillet and saucepan (the one with the lid that becomes a mini skillet!) and I would like to brighten up the orange enamel outsides and give some TLC to the non stick coating on the insides. My LC cookware is a precious memory of my mom and I use them all the time... any suggestions?
 
Anne C. March 20, 2016
What do we think about sealing the dirty pot in a plastic bag with a tiny cup of ammonia? I have done this on stainless and oven racks, but never enameled pots. The ammonia vapors melt the gunk and it wipes right off. But would it be safe on enamel as well?
 
bjgeraghty March 17, 2016
soak with washing soda dissolved in hot water
 
Joe C. March 21, 2015
I use Oxiclean, works every time.<br />Add 1/4 cup to really hot water, let sit over night.
 
crystal March 21, 2015
I've always just made a paste with baking soda and a little water on my scrub brush non scratching and then scrubbed the pots. I've never had a stain I could not get out. It even works on glass top stoves and dos t scratch them.
 
Sophie L. March 21, 2015
If you own a self-cleaning oven,<br />Just put it in your in there and volià !<br />A miracle will happen
 
Sophie L. March 21, 2015
And it cleans it inside & out
 
Ron M. March 31, 2016
I took your advice after trying several other tips here, including soaking the dryer sheet. The self-cleaning oven worked amazingly. The inside was like new. This was in February 2016.
 
Sandi October 24, 2017
Ok are we still talking about LeCreuset? I have cleaned regular cast iron in a self-clean oven, but never my LeCreuset. I have a couple of fry pans that could use this treatment!
 
Ellen November 13, 2014
And make applesauce in the slow cooker. No other ingredients needed, just apples and then I throw in a handful of little cinnamon heart candies for flavor and color.
 
LD October 15, 2014
Way too complicated. Simply use Bar Keeper's Friend. I've been using this for years on all my Le Creuset pots. Clean in under a minute.
 
Andrea June 26, 2016
Reviewing previous to see if anyone else uses Bar Keeper's Friend. I agree, it's too easy and it doesn't take much and a thorough rinse.
 
Judy G. July 6, 2016
Her Keepers Friend is amazing for stainless AllClad. I gave my son a brand new skillet to take to school his! sophomore year. When we unpacked, he was upset about the pan. It was black inside and out. I fixed it in a few hours soaking, scrubbing, BKFingnit and it looked like new. He has my mom's LC and some of my Aluminum non-stick AllClad. He is a great cook! And, he is 32.
 
Betsey October 14, 2014
Yes, but what about the bottom bottom? The inside bottom isn't the hardest part.
 
tsp October 13, 2014
these recommendations are overly complicated and not very effective if you have to do them 6 times. All you need is baking soda and one of those scouring pads (w/o any soap) and NO WATER. What you want is abrasion. None of these mixtures is doing anything chemically really, especially if you are basically just soaking it in water with added stuff, since burnt on food is not being held on by grease, or minerals (in the case of vinegar). Every time I scrub it dry with scouring pad and baking soda, it gleams after one round. <br />
 
petitbleu October 12, 2014
I did this last week--used the baking soda and peroxide trick. I had to do it about a dozen times, but it worked. My conclusion: never making fruit butter in an enameled cast iron pot again. My other pots seem much more forgiving for this particular application.
 
Elsie October 12, 2014
Return it to Bed Bath & Beyond. They take anything back…<br />