Dishwashers are great inventions; no one will dispute that. Although they can come with pitfalls – we generally forget all about that. We load them up and relax while this much-loved appliance completes a boring household chore.
The same can be said for the revered and centuries-old invention of a cooking pot known as the cast-iron Dutch oven. They are wonderful heavy cooking pots that we load up, put over a heat source, and relax. At the same time, this much-loved cooking appliance prepares a household job for us.
Unfortunately for us, combining the two could lead to the Dutch oven coming off second best by having its good looks, functionality, and life span sadly shortened. I am frequently asked, “Can my Dutch oven go in the dishwasher?”
No, you cannot put seasoned cast iron in the dishwasher as the chemicals will break down the seasoning, and rust will form. Yes and no to enamel cast iron Dutch ovens. They can go into the dishwasher, but the enamel will dull the enamel surface.
According to manufacturers’ instructions, you can clean your enamel Dutch oven in the dishwasher. The dishwasher uses abrasive cleaners, which will, in time, dull the enamel on the oven. Washing your cast-iron Dutch oven by hand in soapy water and drying thoroughly will keep your Dutch oven’s surface shiny and non-stick.
Read on to find out the facts, then decide for yourself…
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Can I Put a Dutch Oven in the Dishwasher?
As outlined above, manufacturers advise that you can place your Dutch in the dishwasher. The problem with doing this is that the harsh chemicals used for the day-to-day washing of glasses, plates, and cutlery show on your Dutch oven even after only a couple of washes.
We will talk about the different types of finishes on Dutch ovens shortly so you know how to care for your particular oven.
The dishwasher chemicals break down the coating on the Dutch oven inside and out. This, in turn, leaves the cast iron unprotected, and the following may happen…
- Dull finish inside and out
- Finished becomes porous, which can then lead to your cast-iron rusting (both seasoned and enameled)
- Breakdown of the protective finish will lead to drying, chipping, and cracking
Is It Safe To Wash Your Dutch Oven In a Dishwasher?
The safety issue with putting cast iron in the dishwasher will come about when the coatings on the pot break down.
Seasoned cast iron is protected by the oils we seal our pans with. If they are not there, the pan will
- Rust – that cannot be good over the long term for our bodies
- Chips – iron particles will break off into dishes when using utensils
- Cracks – this is when the iron is becoming dangerous to use – when exposed to cold and heat, iron could break – at this point, I would be disposing of that cooking pot
TIP – Clean your cooking appliances as quickly as possible to avoid particles sticking to the cooking surfaces – which makes them harder to clean.
Two Types of Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
Before discussing what happens to Dutch ovens in a dishwasher or how to care for them, you need to identify what type of Dutch oven you have.
You can then apply the correct cleaning and care techniques to ensure you get the maximum life span out of your cast-iron cooking pot.
Seasoned Cast-Iron Dutch Ovens
If cast iron is placed in a dishwasher or left in water for any time, it will rust. The dishwasher will strip the cast of its protective seasoning.
In short, that is not good for the iron, and you will also have more work to build up the protective seasoning again. If it is damaged or rusty, you will also have to restore the iron.
Caring For Seasoned Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
The aim is to clean and dry the cast iron as soon as possible to avoid more work at a later date (restoring).
Carry out the following steps as soon as possible after each use, and you will alleviate a lot of extra work and have a very happy Dutch oven…
- Let your iron cool down
- Use hot water and a nylon brush or sponge to scrub off any particles
- For anything stubbornly stuck, you can use some elbow grease, kosher salt, and water
- Dry with a towel thoroughly; you can also invert your pot and lid into an oven on low heat and thoroughly dry it out. You can also place your Dutch oven on an electric stovetop to dry out completely
- If you feel the seasoning has been compromised, you can rub some oil onto it – let it dry, then store it as you usually would
Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
This can sometimes be difficult due to how heavy they might be. But using oven mitts and timber cutting boards to place them gently on, avoiding any utensils that might compromise the pot’s interior, and gentle cleaning will elongate the life of your oven. Which, if good quality, should be a lifetime and longer.
Is Enameled Cast Iron Dishwasher Safe?
Generally, NO, even though almost every enameled cast iron cookware manufacturer claims enamel can iron pieces are dishwasher safe. When you read the fine print, they advise handwashing is the best practice because the enamel will fade and become dull over time with regular exposure to a dishwasher’s harsh chemicals.
Cleaning Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
As soon as possible after cooking, the cleaning process should begin. Getting to it quickly will stop particles from drying and adhering to the enamel.
- Use warm, soapy water and a sponge, nylon scourer, or nylon scrubbing brushed to clean the Dutch oven – all over, including the lid and edges. Rinse and dry completely
- As with the seasoned Dutch oven, if you want to dry it thoroughly, place it in an oven on low heat. You can also place your Dutch oven on an electric stovetop to dry out completely.
- Let cool and store away safely
- For any stubborn stains, check out the article below
In this article, learn how to clean Dutch oven enamel.
Can I Put My Le Creuset Dutch Oven in the Dishwasher?
Le Creuset says you can clean your Dutch oven in the dishwasher, but you should know the following.
- Integral cast iron, phenolic handles, and stainless steel knobs are dishwasher safe
- Pans with wooden handles are not dishwasher-safe
- Continuous cleaning in the dishwasher will dull the finish of the enamel
- Dull enamel will not impede the performance of the Dutch oven – you will still be presented with awesome meals
- A dull finish on the pot is not harmful to you
- Leave the pot inside the dishwasher until it is completely dry
Le Creuset also advises that to keep your enameled cast iron in pristine condition, washing by hand is the best way.
Lodge Dutch Oven Dishwasher Safe?
Lodge advises that you clean your enameled cast iron by hand with a non-citrus-based soap. Citrus-based cleaning products can make enamel dull.
They also advise that although the dullness from cleaning in the dishwasher will not affect the performance of the Dutch oven, damage in this way is not covered by their warranty.
In Conclusion – Can I Put a Dutch Oven in the Dishwasher, and Is It Safe to Do So?
I would strongly advise that, as with anything you love and care about, you handle your cast-iron Dutch oven with the same love and care.
This includes putting seasoned cast-iron Dutch ovens or cast-iron skillets in the dishwasher.
You will be rewarded with a fully functioning oven that looks good with no chips or cracks that, with gentle care, will last a lifetime.
You will be handing that heirloom down to another family member…
Related Articles – I have written some in-depth articles about the cleaning, care, maintenance, and storage of cast iron. Click on the links below to see them for yourself.
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