How to Clean Cast Iron Dutch Ovens

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Cast-iron Dutch ovens are pots with tightly fitted open- or closed-handled lids. They are manufactured in various sizes and designs, traditionally in two forms: hanging-style, open-fire uncoated kettles or nonhanging, enamel-coated pots for home or camp oven cooking. Cleaning methods vary only in that with an open-fire Dutch oven, a mild detergent isn't required, but is with an enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch oven.

Things You'll Need

  • Utensils
  • Storage container
  • Water
  • Plastic or nylon scrubbing pad or brush
  • Paper towels
  • Lint-free microfiber cloths
  • Vegetable oil
  • Mild detergent
  • Kitchen towel
  • Dish rack (optional)
  • Vinegar (optional)

Open-Fire Cast-Iron Dutch Ovens

  • Pull your open-fire, uncoated cast-iron Dutch oven from the fire and wait for it to cool until it’s warm to the touch.

  • Remove the lid and set it aside. Scrape out as much leftover food from the pot as possible into a storage container to eat later.

  • Fill the pot half full with warm water, replace the lid and reheat the pot until the water boils to create steam inside. Pull your Dutch oven from the fire again to cool until warm to the touch.

  • Scrub the interior with a nonabrasive plastic or nylon scrubbing pad or brush to remove any stuck-on food.

  • Dump out the dirty water, rinse the interior and exterior of the pot and lid with warm water and then wipe the oven with paper towels or lint-free microfiber cloths to remove all moisture.

  • Pour vegetable oil on a paper towel and wipe a thin layer on the interior and exterior surfaces to prepare your Dutch oven for the next use. Wipe away any excess oil and store your Dutch oven.

Enameled Cast-Iron Dutch Ovens

  • Pull your enameled cast-iron Dutch oven from your home oven’s interior or camp oven’s cooking interior or top.

  • Remove the lid, serve your food and allow the rest to cool inside the Dutch oven. Later, when your Dutch oven has cooled completely, scrape any leftovers into a storage container.

  • Fill a sink with warm water and enough mild detergent to make the water soapy. Place the pot into the water, soak it for 10 minutes and then wash it with a microfiber cloth. If necessary, scrub away any tough stains or baked-on food with a nonabrasive scrubbing pad or brush.

  • Rinse the pot with warm, running water to remove all food and detergent residues. Wipe it dry with a cloth or air-dry it on a towel or in a dish rack.

  • Repeat the cleaning process with the lid. After both pieces have dried, store them for future use.

Tips & Warnings

  • If scrubbing alone doesn’t remove tough, stuck-on food or stains, apply undiluted white vinegar to the stain, wait 10 minutes and then scrub the pot and rinse.
  • Detergent can damage the surface of an uncoated cast-iron Dutch oven. Additionally, soaking your uncoated cast iron Dutch oven can damage it.
  • Pouring cold water into a hot pot can crack not only enamel, but also cast iron.
  • Never wash the lid and pot of an enameled Dutch oven at the same time. Doing so can cause impact damage to the enamel because the pieces are heavy.

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