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How to Clean a Dutch Oven — Even the Stubborn Burnt Bits

Dutch ovens are one of the most versatile pieces of cookware in our kitchen. But after even just a few stews, sauces, and other messy recipes, you might find yourself trying to figure out how to get rid of stubborn burnt stuff sticking to the inside and out. Or maybe you just want a refresher on how to clean a Dutch oven in general. Whatever the reason, we have the answers for you and your hefty pot.

First things first: Avoid putting your Dutch oven in the dishwasher. Although it isn’t quite as risky as cleaning cast iron skillets in the appliance, it can still cause damage to the ceramic enamel on a Dutch oven — even if the pot claims to be dishwasher safe. Thankfully, there are a few other ways you can get a Dutch oven clean without a lot of elbow grease.

How do you clean the inside of a Dutch oven?

In most cases, giving your pot a simple scrub in the sink with a little dish soap, water, and a soft sponge will do the trick. Just be sure to let the Dutch oven cool down completely before you wash it. This will not only prevent it from singeing your hands, but keep the enamel from cracking when the hot surface is splashed with cooler water.

How do you get burnt stuff out of a Dutch oven?

Although you might be tempted to grab a metal brush or sponge to get extra-stuck gunk, they can do way more harm than good.

Instead, the experts at Le Creuset recommend letting your Dutch oven soak with warm water and soap for an hour or so. If the bits still won’t budge, fill the pot with warm water and a tablespoon or two of baking soda. Bring to a simmer on the stove for no more than 10 minutes. You should be able to wipe away now-softened food residue easily after that. 

According to the Kitchn, this baking soda and water technique is the hands-down best way to clean burnt stuff out of a Dutch oven. They also suggest using a wooden spoon to dislodge any super stuck debris and rinsing the whole thing out with dish soap once you’re done to get rid of any chalky residue the baking soda might leave behind.

Another good tip is to simply avoid burned food in your Dutch oven to begin with by keeping your cooking temp in the medium to low range while using it. They’re designed to distribute heat evenly, so you should never need to crank it up any higher anyway. 

How do you clean the outside of a Dutch oven?

Anyone who’s cooked with one of these pots know splatters happen — and often cling to the outside even after you try washing it regularly. Thankfully, a helpful Reddit user shared their go-to product for getting rid of this gunk.

Spraying the surface with oven cleaner spray, like 409 Heavy Duty Spray-On Oven Cleaner (Buy on Amazon, $12.99), can breakdown even the worst debris. The user said they used the product on their pot and let it sit for a few hours. After that, “every single bit of cooked-on grease just rinsed off.”

However, keep in mind that oven cleaning spray is very caustic. You should test a small patch on your Dutch oven to see how it reacts first. Carolyn Forté, a cleaning product expert for the Good Housekeeping Institute, told Apartment Therapy she would advise against letting the cleaner sit on the pot for long periods. She recommends shorter spans (like 15 to 30 minutes at a time) so you can better monitor how it is affecting the surface of your Dutch oven and avoid any permanent damage.

You can also try Bar Keepers Friend (Buy on Amazon, $7.89), which is milder option for dealing with stubborn bits stuck on the inside or out. It just might require a little more elbow grease to get the job done than oven spray. 

Either way, you can make your Dutch oven sparkle like new again!

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