How to Take Care of Your Dutch Oven so You’ll Have It Forever

Dutch ovens are pretty heavy-duty, but they do need some maintenance from time to time. Learn how to clean a Dutch oven to get rid of stains and burnt-on bits.

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The Dutch oven is a kitchen workhorse. It can tackle all kinds of cooking tasks, and while they may be expensive, they’re heavy-duty enough to withstand a lot of wear and tear. If you take good care of them, they’ll practically last forever!

The best part about their enameled finish is it’s pretty simple to clean; it generally releases cooked food with a little soap and warm water. But, every once in a while, those burnt-on bits get out of control. If you have a mess that a soapy sponge can’t handle, here’s how to clean a Dutch oven.

How to Clean a Dutch Oven

Use a Non-Scratch Sponge

Before you get started, forget using steel wool or stainless steel scrubbers to clean this pot. Soft, non-abrasive sponges are the best way to avoid chipping enameled coating. If that happens, there’s no going back and you won’t want to use the pan anymore. The exposed cast iron can rust, or worse, chipped pieces can make their way into your food. A replacement may be covered under your warranty, but it’s not guaranteed.

Stick to non-scratch scrub sponges for regular cleaning. For more heavy-duty stains, look to a Lodge plastic scraper or a nylon scrubbing brush.

Soak in a Baking Soda Bath

If your Dutch oven needs a little more love than soap and water, try soaking it in a baking soda bath. Bring four cups of water to a boil and mix in two heaping tablespoons of baking soda. Simmer the mixture for a minute or two before turning off the heat. Cover it with a lid and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Then, empty the pot and attack any burnt-on bits with a plastic scraper. Let the pot cool and clean it with regular soap and water.

Rub on a Baking Soda Paste

For serious built-on grime where a soak isn’t enough, try making a paste using 3 tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon water. Using your fingers or an old toothbrush, rub small amounts of the paste onto the stains. Don’t be afraid to rub some of the paste on the outside of the pot, either. Cover the pot and let it sit overnight. The next morning, those stains should wash right off with soap and water.

Find more clever ways to clean with baking soda.

Invest in Bar Keepers Friend

If you’re short on time, try using Bar Keepers Friend. This stuff is kind of magical (and super affordable). Simply wet the inside of your Dutch oven, sprinkle in a little powder and start scrubbing. Almost instantly, the burned pieces and stains will fade away. Then, clean the pot with soap and water like normal.

Look for Special Enameled Cast-Iron Cleaners

Most cast iron companies have a proprietary cleaner like this one from Lodge or this one from Le Creuset. If you feel better about sticking with the recommended cleaner, go for it. But regular old baking soda has been able to take care of 99% of our stains.

How to Prevent Scratches

Of course, burnt-on bits and food stains can cause the inside of your Dutch oven to look dirty, but so can scratches from utensils.

The best way to prevent these unsightly scratches—which can lead to chipping—is to avoid using metal utensils. Instead, go for an old-fashioned wooden spoon or nylon and silicone utensils. It’s that simple.

When to Replace Your Dutch Oven

If you take good care of your Dutch oven, it should last you years. In fact, it might just be one of those kitchen heirlooms that get passed down over the generations.

Though Dutch ovens may last a long time, they might not last forever. It’s time to replace your Dutch oven if you see the enamel chipping inside of the pot. When you’re stirring up your next soup, the last thing you want is chips of enamel flaking off into the broth.

So the second you see any coating flaking inside of your Dutch oven, retire it and look for a new model.

Try Our Most Delicious Dutch Oven Recipes

Now that your Dutch oven looks brand new, it’s time to get cooking!

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Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay has been writing for digital publications for seven years and has 10 years of experience working as a professional chef. She became a full-time food writer at Taste of Home in 2023, although she’s been a regular contributor since 2017. Throughout her career, Lindsay has been a freelance writer and recipe developer for multiple publications, including Wide Open Media, Tasting Table, Mashed and SkinnyMs. Lindsay is an accomplished product tester and spent six years as a freelance product tester at Reviewed (part of the USA Today network). She has tested everything from cooking gadgets to knives, cookware sets, meat thermometers, pizza ovens and more than 60 grills (including charcoal, gas, kamado, smoker and pellet grills). Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, especially if it provides an opportunity to highlight local, seasonal ingredients. As a writer, Lindsay loves sharing her skills and experience with home cooks. She aspires to motivate others to gain confidence in the kitchen. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking with fresh produce from the farmers market or planning a trip to discover the best new restaurants.
Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.