How to Clean a Cast Iron Dutch Oven the Right Way

Cast iron Dutch ovens are arguably one of the most versatile pieces of cookware in any kitchen. Besides coming in handy on a stovetop or in the oven, they can be used over a campfire. But the kicker of any cooking: the clean-up. While they’re definitely a must-have in the kitchen, you do need to know how to clean a cast iron dutch oven properly to maintain it and keep your food safe.

Deep and straight-edged with a proper-fitting lid, a cast iron Dutch oven can be used to simmer pasta sauce, braise meats, bake bread, prepare stews or soups, and as a serving vessel.

Available at a broad price range, these ovens are constructed from heavy-duty, durable materials such as ceramic stoneware, cast iron, stainless steel, and enameled cast iron.

The sizes range from 15-quart ovens big enough to house a turkey to individual ½ quart ovens. With proper care and maintenance of your Dutch oven, it can last for generations. The cleaning technique varies based on the type of material used in the manufacture of the oven.

how to clean a cast iron dutch oven


Let’s delve into a few pointers to keep in mind when cleaning a cast iron Dutch oven or other cast iron cookware.

  • Let the cookware cool completely before filling it with or immersing it in water.
  • Begin by cleaning the exterior of the oven if there’s a spillage or boil-over. You can also vacuum any spillages on the floor.
  • Dry the oven properly before storage.
  • Put a paper towel or kitchen towel between the oven and the lid when storing it to prevent abrasions.
  • Although a ceramic Dutch oven is dishwasher-friendly, we recommend hand-washing it for enhanced longevity.

What You’ll Need

Here are the equipment or tools you’ll need to clean a cast iron Dutch oven.

You’ll also require the following materials to get the job done.

How to Clean an Enameled Cast Iron Dutch oven: A Step-by-Step Process

Regarded as a top choice by most cooks, an enameled cast iron Dutch oven offers uniform cooking performance but ushers in easier maintenance and care due to its enameled coating.

Step 1: Clean the Lid and Exterior

To get rid of baked-on splatters, dab the non-abrasive sponge onto dry baking powder and scrub gently. Once the food particles are gone, rinse with warm water.

Step 2: Clean the Enameled Interior

Given that most foods don’t stick to enameled interiors, cleaning the inside of the cast iron Dutch oven should be a walk in the park with a sponge, dishwashing liquid, and hot water. If you notice food particles stuck on it, use a non-metallic scraper to loosen them.

Alternatively, you can fill the oven to the brim with hot water, add a few drops of dishwashing liquid, and let it soak overnight or for six hours. As a last resort, pour a gentle powder such as Bon Ami or Bar Keeper’s Friend onto a soft sponge to eliminate stubborn food particles.

As a tip:

  • Avoid using metal or steel wool scrapers on enameled finishes as they leave small abrasions that cause food to stick.
  • Due to the fragility of the enamel, avoid banging your enameled cookware on sharp edges.
  • Discoloration or staining of the white enameled interior of your cast iron Dutch iron isn’t a cause for alarm. That’s the nature of frequently used ovens. The staining won’t negatively impact the flavor of the food.

Step 3: Dry Thoroughly

Use a microfiber cloth to dry the exterior and interior of the oven to curb water spots.

A Step-by-Step Process of How to Clean a Cast Iron Dutch Oven

how to clean a cast iron dutch oven

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Let’s discuss the steps to follow when cleaning cast iron Dutch ovens.

Step 1: Wipe Away Food Residue

When a cast iron Dutch oven is warm but still cool enough to handle, use a paper towel to wipe away the food residue on the exterior, interior, and lid. For a well-seasoned oven, this might be the only cleaning required.

Step 2: Get Rid of Oil and Food Residues

If your oven’s interior surface feels greasy or has stuck-on food, spritz dishwashing liquid onto a damp dishcloth or sponge and wipe the surface. If food remains, use a non-abrasive plastic scraper to handle the problem.

Step 3: Remove Food and Oily Residue

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 eliminate them.

Due to the likelihood of rusting, avoid leaving the Dutch oven soaked in a sink of soapy water or scrubbing it using a metal scraper or steel wool. Doing so will negatively affect the seasoned finish.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry Immediately

Use hot water coupled with a microfiber towel to rinse the cast iron Dutch oven. Dry it immediately using a microfiber towel rather than leave it to air-dry as that will cause rust to develop. To ensure that the cast iron Dutch oven is entirely dry before storage, warm it on a medium-low cooktop setting for up to 20 minutes. Leave it to cool entirely before you store it.

Step 5: Re-Season the Cast Iron Dutch Oven if Necessary

Once your cookware is spick and span, coat the interior with ½ tablespoon of vegetable oil and use a paper towel to uniformly distribute it over the exterior and exterior of the Dutch oven until it’s absorbed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Let’s delve into the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions on how to clean a cast iron Dutch oven.

Should you use detergent or dish soap to clean a Dutch oven?

Although most Dutch ovens are dishwasher-friendly, we recommend hand-washing. After a while, dishwashing may result in the dulling of cast iron cookware and may hinder the cooking performance and flavor.

Can you ruin a cast iron Dutch oven?

With unmatched durability, this cookware is passed down from one generation to another. Contrary to other cookware, years of regular use elevate the oven’s seasoning (the natural nonstick coating). However, there’s the likelihood that it can break.

Can you soak a cast iron Dutch oven?

No. Soaking the cookware in water is a recipe for rust. If you require removing stubborn or sticky stuck-on food, use a pan scraper or nylon scrubbing brush and rinse in warm water. A little elbow grease can go a long way. You can also use one cup of kosher salt in warm cast iron cookware to help remove any stubborn stuck-on food and grime.

What’s the most ideal way to clean a Dutch oven?

Pour a small amount of mild dish soap onto a soft sponge and gently wash off leftover bits of food. Ensure you’re not scrubbing overly hard or using an abrasive sponge as that might eliminate the seasoning and open your cast iron Dutch oven for rusting.

How do you clean an enameled cast iron Dutch oven?

If you have an enameled Dutch oven, make sure it has cooled, and then add a few squirts of mild dish soap and hot water. Avoid using abrasive scrubbers or cleaners, or you risk chipping away the enamel coating.

Bottom Line

A cast iron Dutch oven offers one of the easiest techniques for preparing indoor and outdoor flavorful meals, whether you’re in your backyard, in your kitchen, or on a camping trip. Once you put the food in the cookware and heap briquettes of charcoal on it or underneath, you’re good to go.

Cast iron is seasoned with oil, creating a nonstick surface to guarantee uniform cooking. With proper cleaning, as discussed in this guide, maintaining your cast iron Dutch oven is easier.

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