How to Clean Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

Make your Le Creuset cookware look brand new, plus the trick for removing burnt-on stains.

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Do you know how to clean Le Creuset cookware? This French-made brand of enameled cast iron cookware—consisting of oven-safe pans and Dutch ovens—stands the test of time. Its pieces are as durable and timeless as cast iron, and their enamel coating makes them non-stick, easier to clean, and available in a rainbow of color options. In fact, the Le Creuset classic skillet is one of our favorite frying pans.

Whether you inherited enameled cast iron cookware as a family heirloom or just bought a set for yourself, learning how to properly clean and care for this cookware will help it last for decades—you can pass down your favorite enameled cast iron skillet to the next generation. While most enameled cast iron cookware is technically dishwasher-safe, if you want it to last for as long as possible, hand-washing is best. Here's the easiest way to clean Le Creuset cookware, as well as fail-proof tricks for removing stubborn stains.

How Often to Clean Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

As with any cookware, enameled cast iron should be washed after every use to remove bits of food. After years of heat exposure and tomato-based sauces, the interior of most enameled pieces develops a patina or discoloration that cannot be removed. While most cooks accept the patina as a symbol of their hard work and delicious food, you don't have to live with it.

What You Need:

How to Clean Enameled Cast Iron Cookware With Dish Soap

Use this simple routine after every use to keep your cookware clean and looking brand-new.

Step 1: Let It Cool

For your safety and the longevity of your cookware, let the pan cool completely before cleaning it. Plunging a hot enameled cast iron pan into a sink of water can cause cracks.

Step 2: Scrape Away Food Bits

Use a silicone or plastic scraper to loosen food bits stuck to the pan.

Step 3: Wash in Warm Soapy Water

Wash the cookware in warm soapy water using a non-abrasive sponge or dishcloth.

Step 4: Clean the Rim

If the exposed lip of the cookware looks a bit rusty, clean the area with a baking soda paste. To prevent the rust from returning, season the lip by placing a few drops of vegetable oil on a paper towel and then rubbing it along the rim.

Step 5: Tackle Stuck-on Food

If burned-on food just won’t budge, here are three ways to remove it:    

  • Dry-scrub with baking soda. Sprinkle a damp dishcloth with a bit of dry baking soda and then scrub the area. The baking soda acts as a gentle abrasive to lift the food without harming the enameled finish.
  • Wet-scrub with baking soda. Add 2 cups water and ¼ cup baking soda to the pan, place it on the stovetop, and then heat until boiling. Allow the water to cool, and then use a plastic scraper to remove the food.
  • Soak it off. Fill the pan with warm soapy water, allow it to soak for several hours, and then use a plastic scraper to remove the stuck-on food.

How to Remove Stubborn Stains

Proper routine cleaning helps prevent stains, but some foods—like tomato sauce, beets, and burned sugar—tend to be stubborn. Here are three methods to get rid of stubborn stains:

  • Use baking soda. In a small bowl, mix baking soda with water to form a thick paste. Apply the paste to the pan with a soft sponge and rub in a circular motion. This mild abrasive removes stains without harming the enamel. Once the stains disappear, rinse the pan and dry thoroughly.
  • Try hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach that lightens stains. Once you've removed any burned food, pour enough hydrogen peroxide into the cookware to cover the bottom at least ½-inch deep. Add ¼ cup baking soda and heat the cookware on the stovetop until the mixture begins to bubble. Remove the pan from the heat, let it soak until cool, and then wash as usual.
  • Soak in chlorine bleach. Mix 3 tablespoons chlorine bleach into 1 quart water. Pour the mixture into the cookware and allow it to soak for 2 to 3 hours. Pour out the solution and wash the cookware in warm soapy water.

Le Creuset Cleaning Mistakes to Avoid

Now that you know what to do, here are a few things to avoid to keep your Le Creuset pristine:

  • Using the wrong tools. Avoid using steel wool or metal scrapers to remove stains, as they cause minute scratches that can make food stick.
  • Careless handling. Do not bang enameled cookware on sharp edges or against other pans. This causes the enamel to chip and expose the cast iron, making it susceptible to rust.
  • Cleaning a hot pan. Allow the cookware to cool completely before filling it with cold water or plunging it into a sink of water.
  • Skipping the exterior. Don’t forget to clean the exterior and the bottom of your cookware to remove stains from spills and boil-overs.
  • Air-drying. Dry the cookware with a towel quickly and thoroughly before storing.
  • Storing improperly. To prevent scratches and chips when storing, place a kitchen towel or paper towel between the cookware and its lid.
  • Using the dishwasher. Extend the life of your cast iron enameled cookware by hand-washing instead of exposing it to the harsher dishwasher detergents.
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