You and I know that many people are hesitant to own a Dutch oven because of the horror they conjure up in their minds regarding the cleaning of the ovens. Not to mention the fear of ruining a Dutch oven.
How to clean a Dutch oven after cooking! Quick clean after use while the Dutch oven is still warm, scrape off any food particles with a wooden spoon, and let cool. Stuck food particles? Boil water in the Dutch oven, let cool, and while warm, use a nylon scrubber. Rinse with clean, warm water and dry immediately.
Never fear, Dutch ovens in all forms are very tough. They need to be cleaned and maintained correctly. Also, the fear of having food sticking when cooking and not understanding that if seasoned correctly, Dutch ovens should not have sticky problems.
Disclaimer: I earn from qualifying purchases on my website as an Amazon Associate. If you purchase through links from this website, I may get a small share of the sale from Amazon and other similar affiliate programs.
Well, today I’m here to cover the quickest and easiest ways of cleaning a Dutch oven after cooking. As well as clear up some of the concerns with the re-seasoning of cast iron Dutch ovens. I will break it down into categories so you will see quickly how to clean your particular type of Dutch oven.
If you make it to the end of the article, you will also be able to view a fantastic video about cleaning, restoring, and re-seasoning cast iron in general.
How to Clean a Dutch Oven After Cooking
This a big topic, so I will also cover:
- How to clean a rusty cast-iron Dutch oven
- How to clean a cast-iron Dutch oven
- How to clean a cast aluminum Dutch oven
- How to clean an enamel Dutch oven
- How to clean discolored enamel cookware
Suppose you have come to this page and just want to be quickly directed to Dutch oven cleaning equipment. See cleaners (Amazon).
Okay, before we start with the breakdown on how to clean a Dutch oven after cooking, there are a few points that should be covered.
Firstly, if you haven’t used your Dutch oven yet, refer to your manufacturer’s instructions before use. There are so many different types of Dutch ovens out there on the market with varying degrees of quality. You must identify what sort of material your Dutch oven is made of. This will allow you to clean your oven most safely so as not to damage the oven.
Secondly, you should never use sharp or metal objects to chip away at the food that may be crustily burnt onto the surface of the Dutch oven.
Thirdly, we never use steel wool or anything abrasive like this to try and remove light sticky food or enamel discoloration on the surface of the enamel. Cast iron Dutch ovens do not like soapy water or to be fully submerged in water. If you avoid those two actions you will save your seasoning as well as stop the rusting process from the beginning.
Lastly, if you have a cooking disaster with your Dutch oven, try contacting the manufacturer. In this age of being able to access suppliers via websites or emails, try contacting them before attempting to do anything drastic to your Dutch oven. After all, you are their customer and should be treated with the best possible service they can provide.
How to Clean a Dutch Oven That Is Rusted
The following instructions work for the rusty Dutch oven and if acidic foods have compromised the seasoning, like tomatoes or vinegar. The steps for the process are listed here, with further explanation below…
- Clean all debris from the Dutch oven
- Scrub with hot water and dish soap for 10 minutes
- Place in oven at 300 degrees for 10 minutes to dry
- Scrub the inside of the pan with 1/4 cup of oil and 1 cup of coarse kosher salt
- Rinse out with water
- Place 1 cup of white vinegar with 1 quart of water inside the pan
- Scrub for 5 minutes with a clean cotton towel
- Rinse pan out thoroughly
- Place in oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes to dry
- Take the pan out of the oven and let cook
- Turn down the oven temperature to 300 degrees
The first step is to remove any large food particles, carbon deposits, and any other debris from the cooking surface. Then, heat your Dutch oven to 300 degrees for 10 minutes. After that, let your pan cool enough to handle it barely. Then, scrub with a clean cotton cloth and hot soapy water.
If you do not have a cast-iron scrubber, the one I always use in kit form at Amazon. See it for yourself.
Next, towel dry, then place in the oven at 300 degrees for 10 minutes to rid the pan of moisture. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool. Add one-quarter cup of cooking oil with one cup of coarse Kosher salt to your pan.
Next, use a clean, dry cotton cloth to scrub oil and salt into the cooking surface thoroughly. This will act as an abrasive and lubricant all in one mixture. Add more oil as needed.
When finished, rinse with water, then add one cup of white vinegar with one quart of water to your Dutch oven. Thoroughly scrub with a clean cotton towel for 5 to 10 minutes.
Next, rinse your pan and place it back in the oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes to completely dry. Finally, turn down the oven temperature to 300 degrees. You are now ready to re-season your Dutch oven.
Avoiding rust on your cast-iron Dutch oven is far better than removing rust. Maintenance is relatively easy compared to the rust removal process.
Check out my article on how to clean rust off a Dutch oven that is rusted.
How to Clean a Cast Iron Dutch Oven After Use
It should be noted that if you are using your cast iron Dutch oven for the first time, you should season the oven.
Even though it may have come pre-seasoned, there is no way of knowing how long ago this could have taken place. Thus, compromising the seasoning, and when the seasoning is compromised, you can guarantee that your food will stick. Or worse, burn onto the inside of your Dutch oven.
Follow these quick and easy instructions, and you will be ready.
- Rub oil all over your Dutch oven – inside and out.
- Place the Dutch oven into an oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Carefully (the cast iron is HOT) reapply oil all over the Dutch oven and continue to heat it for another hour at 200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Turn off the oven, and leave it in overnight. Store your Dutch oven in a dry place.
- Before using, give the Dutch oven a final coat of oil.
How Do You Clean and Reseason a Dutch Oven?
Cleaning Cast Iron
To start cleaning a Dutch oven that is made from seasoned cast iron, removing any leftover food from the Dutch oven before it cools is a great way to start.
When food is left in a cast-iron Dutch oven to go cold, it tends to adhere to the cast iron. Especially if the Dutch oven has not been seasoned properly. So, removing the food before it goes cold is a huge advantage.
If you have burnt food inside your Dutch oven, you can use a plastic scraper to lift the food off. After you have removed the larger parts of the food from the oven, add water to the Dutch oven, covering the burnt food left in the oven.
Bring the water to a boil, this should loosen this burnt-on food. Let the water cool slightly, tip out, and wipe out any residue left in the oven.
If there is still residue inside your oven, you can use some salt. Using kosher salt, sprinkle it over the oven, then using a damp cotton cloth, gently remove the food that is remaining. After all the food has been removed, rinse the Dutch oven well and dry immediately.
Your cast-iron Dutch oven can now be re-seasoned, which, after what it would have just been through, is very important because the seasoning would be compromised. Information on how to carry out this process is set out below.
Watch this video if you want visual help restoring and cleaning cast iron. It is great!
Re-Seasoning Cast Iron
Once again, the re-seasoning steps are listed here with a more in-depth explanation below…
- Heat the pan to 300 degrees, then cool until still very warm.
- Apply Crisco or similar shortening oil inside of Dutch oven and coat evenly while the pan is still warm
- Place a cookie sheet on the bottom of the oven to catch excess oil falling from the Dutch oven
- Place Crisco-coated Dutch oven upside down in the oven at 300 degrees for 1 hour
- Pull out the pan and let it cool
- Remove excess oil from the bottom of the pan
- Repeat the Crisco coating step and place back in the oven upside down at 300 degrees for 1 hour
- Take out of the oven, and remove excess oil once again
- Enjoy your newly restored, pre-seasoned cast-iron Dutch oven
After the cleaning process has been performed, the re-seasoning process can begin. This is an incredibly important step in maintaining your cast iron Dutch oven for years. If you came directly to this section because your Dutch oven simply needs reasoning, then continue reading.
First, heat your oven to 300 degrees and place your pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Then, take your pan out and let it cool until it is somewhat comfortable to hold on to.
Your Dutch oven should be warm to slightly hot to the touch. Rub Crisco or your favorite shortening with your fingers into the cooking surface of your pan.
Next, place your pan in the oven at 300 degrees for one hour upside down. Place a cookie sheet or large tray underneath to catch the excess oil that melts down from the Dutch oven. Then, remove the Dutch oven and let it cool.
Remove the excess oil from the pan with a clean, dry towel. Finally, repeat this step, coating it with Crisco and placing it back in the oven for an hour at 300 degrees. Then, wipe out excess oil and enjoy your newly re-seasoned cast iron Dutch oven for many future meals.
Suppose you do not have any seasoning. I love using as many natural products as this is the one I use. Check out the OIL.
I also have an article about the best oils for seasoning cast iron, which you should quickly look at.
How Do You Clean Cast Aluminum Cookware?
Cast aluminum is a light metal that has its natural luster. It is a strong metal that requires some special care when cleaning. Aluminum Dutch ovens require light cleaning to not damage their look or affect their useful life. But is required regularly to help prevent the build-up of aluminum oxide.
Cleaning Aluminum with Mild Acidic Cleaners
- Let your Dutch oven cool down before attempting to clean it
- If you have food burned and stuck to the Dutch oven, scrape the food off with a wooden spoon or steel wool soap pad
- If the food does not break away from the Dutch oven, you need to boil water in the bottom of the oven and scrape the burnt residue away with a wooden spoon.
- Stop scraping when you see the aluminum.
- Remove oil, dirt, and grease using warm water with dishwashing soap and wiping with a soft cotton cloth; after rinsing thoroughly, completely dry your Dutch oven.
- Acidic Cleaning Solution – This solution reduces discoloration due to oxidation. To make up the acidic cleaning solution, you will require two tablespoons of cream of tartar, white vinegar, or lemon juice.
- Rub gently with a soft sponge, then dry with a soft cotton cloth.
- Fill the pot with the solution. If the Dutch oven needs cleaning, you can try submerging it in a larger pot. You can rub the outside of the Dutch oven with a cut lemon dipped in salt if you do not have a large pot to submerge your oven.
- Bring the pot to a boil. Then let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes
- When you see the aluminum brighten, turn off the burner. After the pot cools, you can empty the water.
Scrubbing the Dutch oven gently should remove any leftover discoloration. You should not use steel wool. It is abrasive and will scratch your aluminum.
There are gentle aluminum cleaners available for cleaning cookware readily available, instead of the boiling method.
You can also use cleaners like Bar Keeper’s Friend, which are safe on many surfaces.
See it here. Ensure you follow instructions so you do not damage your oven.
A couple of extra tips to keep in mind when cleaning aluminum…
Try the natural approach…
You could try to deep clean with one or more of these more natural approaches. For example, rubbing aluminum with acidic fruits or vegetables, rhubarb, and apples can work well. What about using the process set out above? Instead of acid, you use apple peels.
Keep an eye on these…
Do not use any compound with hydroxide or caustic soda as an ingredient, as it may leave a stain or a white residue in the Dutch oven.
If you clean your aluminum Dutch oven in the dishwasher, it could turn your oven gray. This can also happen if aluminum is soaked in water with dishwashing soap for too long. If this happens, you could try to use a Silver cleaning paste.
Using soft metal scourers instead of steel wool will protect your aluminum from scratches.
How to Clean an Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
The question of how I clean my enamel Dutch oven constantly arises because people do not want to damage the enamel coating. In this article section, I will cover how to clean an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven after everyday use, whereby nothing has adhered to the Dutch oven.
Then, I will also look at the other cleaning issues that can arise after cooking with an enameled Dutch oven. For example, the sticky residue can adhere to the enamel when making jams, sauces, caramel, and other sugary recipes.
Also, severely burnt foods can be really difficult to remove.
If you want to see a kit, you can purchase it so you do not have to go through the following steps. This Lodge care kit is designed to be gentle and excellent. Check out the Lodge kit.
Okay, let us start with the everyday cleaning of your enameled cast iron Dutch oven
- To start with, you will have to let your oven cool
- Submerge your Dutch oven in warm, soapy water (non-citrus-based dishwashing liquid)
- Using either a normal cotton dishcloth or nylon scouring pad, gently clean your oven
- Rinse with clean water and dry with a cotton towel thoroughly
- Store your oven in a cool, dry place
- Your manufacturer’s instructions will hopefully tell you to store your oven with the rubber pot protectors securely between the rim of the oven and the lid, as this prevents chipping
Removing Sticky Food
If you have cooked sticky food such as jams, sauces, and deserts, the best measure to prevent sticking is to remove all the food from the oven while the oven is still warm. This prevents the food from sticking even more as the oven is cooled down.
Then, if there is grease, food, or small areas of burnt food, for example, on the sides of the Dutch oven, use this approach.
- Soak your oven in hot water with a citrus-free dishwashing liquid for a couple of hours
- Gently rub anything left in the oven
- Dry thoroughly
If this method does not work, here are a couple more you can try.
- In 2 quarts of hot water, dissolve two tablespoons of baking soda and add to the Dutch oven. Please leave it to sit for the night. (The Dutch oven should not be sitting in water.) Then, with a nylon scouring pad, gently clean your oven, taking care not to scratch the inside. If there is still a little left on the oven, repeat until the sticky residue has been removed.
- Add 2 quarts of hot water to the Dutch oven, then add a quarter cup of dishwashing powder, not liquid, and let it dissolve; leave overnight, and repeat scouring as above.
- It is similar, but you will need laundry powder this time. The process for these stubborn sticky messes is… Add 2 quarts of water and a quarter cup of powdered laundry detergent to the oven. Turn up the heat and boil for 5 to 6 minutes. Let cool, leaving the water inside, then use your nylon scouring pad to rub off the leftover stickiness.
- As previously outlined, dry and store your Dutch oven.
Removing Baked-On Food
For the food that is burnt onto the enamel, you can boil 2 cups of water and 4 tablespoons of baking soda. You should only need to boil this mixture for a couple of minutes. If you have stubborn food still attached, you may need to gently peel the food off with a plastic pan scraper.
You can remove the last residue using your nylon scourer and warm, citrus-free, soapy water.
Dry thoroughly storing as previously outlined above.
Learn more about cleaning enamel cast-iron Dutch ovens and cookware can be found in my article.
How to Clean Discolored Enamel Cookware
After prolonged use, you may have discoloration on your Dutch oven inside and out. The main reason this happens is the type of food you cook.
Some examples of these would be tomato-based foods like pasta, chili, beans, stews, and some soups. The other culprit would be those sugary foods like jams, caramels, and desserts.
One way to remove stains and discoloration from enamel cookware is to follow the previous steps for cleaning your Dutch oven after cooking.
- Submerge your Dutch oven in warm, soapy water (non-citrus-based)
- Using either a normal cotton dishcloth or nylon scouring pads, gently clean your oven
- Rinse with clean water and dry with a cotton towel thoroughly
Then, mix household bleach and water. The required ratio is 3 tablespoons of bleach per quart of water. Let your Dutch oven soak for 2/3 hours. Upon emptying the water, your Dutch oven should be a little brighter.
Occasionally, you can remove stains with an enamel cleaner, adhering to the instructions on the bottle.
One thing I always remember is that a well-used and cared-for piece of cooking equipment will have slight marks on it over time. These marks or discolorations will not affect its ability to prepare wonderful meals.
Caring for Enamel Cast Iron Cookware
Here are a couple of extra tips to keep in mind to help preserve your enamel cast-iron Dutch ovens and other enamel cookware.
Avoid using utensils or a metal pad (steel wool) to clean your Dutch oven, which could lead to scratching or chipping the enamel.
It should be noted that citrus-based cleaners can dull the interior and exterior gloss of your enameled Dutch oven. This citrus base can be found in cleaners, but some dishwashing detergents use citrus for the fresh smell.
The label attached to any enameled cookware will tell you that it is dishwasher safe, but I believe that anything delicate should not be put in the dishwasher. Handwashing with warm, non-citrus-based soapy water is best.
Not stacking your cookware will prolong its life, so give your oven a special cool, dry place.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to season a Dutch oven?
It takes approximately 60 minutes to bake the seasoning in a Dutch oven.
This time does not include how much time you need to clean the Dutch oven before applying any seasoning.
I would also season and bake cast-iron cookware at least twice if the iron responds well to the process. Your cast iron may need more than two applications.
How do you strip a Dutch oven?
Stripping cast iron is simply removing any oil, food, crud, and anything else that has adhered to the cast iron, making it non-stick.
Strip the Dutch oven using a scourer and scraper, if required, to remove any substance covering the cast iron.
There are other methods used for stripping cast iron. These include vinegar, oven cleaner, or an electrolysis bath.
After cleaning the cast iron, it is very important to get it dry as soon as possible and thoroughly before you apply any seasoning.
How to clean the outside of the Dutch oven?
If your Dutch oven is seasoned, cast iron, a scourer, and water.
If your Dutch oven is enamel cast-iron, you need to take great care not to scratch and cause the enamel to go dull outside. Use warm, soapy water and a cloth that will not scratch the surface. Let the enamel soak for a short time in between attempts at cleaning.
Again, dry that enamel cast iron thoroughly after cleaning.
Final Thoughts – How to Clean a Dutch Oven After Cooking
I hope that you will try some of the cleaning options laid out above. And that you have great success! There is no need to discard your old Dutch oven, whether traditional cast iron or enamel.
Suppose your Dutch oven cannot be revived as you would like. Why not keep your old workhorse and use it for those messy cooking jobs? Like the jams, sauces, caramels, and desserts. Then get yourself a new Dutch oven just to spoil yourself…
Or maybe you would like to try cooking with a Dutch oven in a metal you do not currently have.
Check out some of my favorite and very popular enameled Dutch ovens. Below are some in-depth articles I have written about these popular brands.
You can check out the Lodge EC6D93 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, available in three sizes – 3-quart, 6-quart, and 7.5-quart. One of the best features of this enameled cast iron Dutch oven is that it is available in 9 – yes 9 – fantastic colors. Perfect for cooking and serving at your table straight from the Dutch oven.
Suppose you are after something large for those bigger cuts of meat. You might be after an oval enameled Dutch oven. You can visit Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 6.75 Quart Oval French Dutch Oven to see my review of this beautiful Le Creuset Dutch oven.
Maybe you are after a traditional cast iron Dutch oven, which we have many extensive reviews. Here are a couple you may be interested in to help you choose your next cast iron Dutch oven.
Firstly, the Lodge L8DO3 Cast Iron Dutch Oven, Pre-Seasoned, 5-quart, is easy to carry because it has a built-in wire handle attached to the oven itself.
Or maybe the Lodge 6-Quart L12CO3 Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven, which is great for camping.
You can find Dutch Ovens anywhere online – but for the best deal and product range, I would check them out at Amazon.
One-Pot Cooking Rocks