How to Clean Enameled Cookware: A Step-by-Step Guide

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If you’re wondering how to remove the stains and discoloration from your Le Creuset Dutch oven, skillet, or any other enameled cookware, you’ve come to the right place.  

In this guide, you’ll learn the eight most effective ways to clean enameled cookware. I explain what supplies you’ll need, the steps to take, and tips to consider along the way.

I also share several simple techniques you can use to prevent stains and discoloration from happening in the first place.

So, if your cookware looks like this:

Dirty and Discolored Le Creuset enameled Dutch oven
Dirty and Discolored bottom of Le Creuset enameled Dutch oven

But you want it to look like this:

Clean Le Creuset enameled Dutch oven

Keep reading!


Use the links below to navigate the guide:


Method 1: Water & Soap

In most cases, water, dish soap, and some elbow grease is the best way to clean enameled cookware. I recommend starting with this method because it involves ingredients you already have in the house and only takes a few minutes. If this doesn’t work, you can move onto other methods.

Supplies

  • Water
  • Sponge or non-metal scrubber
  • Dish soap
  • Dish towel

Instructions

  • Fill the cookware with warm water and a teaspoon of dish soap.
  • Use a sponge to gently scrub off the stains and discoloration. Make sure to use a gentle sponge or scrubber, as metal or tough ones can scratch the enamel.
  • Rinse the pan.
  • Dry thoroughly with a dish towel.
  • If stains persist, fill the cookware up with water and bring it to a simmer.
  • Add a couple of drops of dish soap and mix it thoroughly.
  • Turn the heat off and let the water cool.
  • Scrub the cookware gently.
  • Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Tips

  • With the simmering method, you can switch out the dish soap for baking soda. It’s mildly abrasive, so it’s great for lifting stains.
  • Nylon scouring pads work really well if you don’t want to use a sponge. They’re tough but still gentle.
  • Always thoroughly dry the cookware before storing it. Moisture in the pan can cause rusting, especially if there are any cracks or chips in the enamel coating.

Method 2: Water and Baking Soda

For an all-natural method, a simple combination of water and baking soda can work wonders on your discolored enameled cookware. Baking soda is a great natural ingredient to keep in your cupboard for various cleaning hacks. Plus, when you buy it in bulk, it’s super cheap.

Supplies

  • Water
  • Two tablespoons of baking soda
  • Wooden spoon
  • Dish towel

Instructions

  • Fill your cookware with four cups of water.
  • Put it on the stove and turn the heat to medium.
  • When the water starts to boil, add the two tablespoons of baking soda.
  • Stir it together using your wooden spoon to dissolve.
  • Let the mixture simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • Turn off the heat.
  • Scrape the burnt bits or stains off using your wooden spoon. They will come loose and float in the water.
  • Pour the solution down the drain. If you have a garbage disposal, you can grind up the burnt bits. If not, I recommend using a strainer to dispose of the burnt bits in the trash.
  • Rinse the cookware with hot water.
  • Dry thoroughly.

Tips

  • Increase the quantities if you have a larger pot or pan. If the four cups of water don’t reach burnt bits on the side of the cookware, increase the amount of water. Just make sure to increase the baking soda quantity as well.
  • Use a toothbrush to scrub away stubborn stains; if you have an old electric toothbrush, even better.
  • If the stains are still sticking around, spray them with distilled white vinegar and let it sit for 30 minutes. Use a sponge or cloth to wipe them away.

Method 3: Water & Baking Soda Paste

If you like the sound of using baking soda to clean your enameled cookware, but the above method didn’t work for you — try this. Go one step further and create a baking soda paste, which will be a bit more abrasive but still gentle enough for your pots and pans.

Supplies

  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • Spoon
  • Bowl
  • Cloth
  • Dish soap
  • Dish towel

Instructions

  • Mix baking soda and water in a small bowl until you form a paste. Make sure you have enough to cover the entire pan.
  • Apply the paste evenly across the cooking surface. If there are stains on the sides of the cookware, apply it there, too.
  • Using a cloth, scrub the paste against the cooking surface to lift the stains. Be gentle. Continue until the stains lift.
  • Wash the cookware with warm soapy water.
  • Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Tips

  • Add some salt to the paste to help with super stubborn stains. It adds more abrasion for even more stain lifting power.
  • This method works better on stains than it does on burnt bits of food.

Method 4: Lemon Juice and Salt

When cleaning enameled cookware, lemon juice and salt is a dream combination, especially if you want something completely natural. It’s also a perfect method when you have some extra lemons in the refrigerator. Lemon is a natural stain remover with whitening and disinfecting properties.

Supplies

  • Three lemons
  • One tablespoon of salt
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Cloth
  • Rubber gloves
  • Water
  • Dish towel

Instructions

  • In a bowl, mix the salt and lemon juice to create a paste. Adjust the quantities if you have a larger pan.
  • Wearing rubber gloves, spoon the paste onto the stained areas.
  • Use a cloth to gently scrub the paste into the stains until they lift and dissolve. Repeat until the cookware is clean.
  • If the stains don’t lift, evenly spread out the paste and let the mixture sit for about an hour.
  • Add some more lemon juice and scrub gently with the cloth.
  • Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Tips

  • I recommend rubber gloves because the lemon juice can irritate your hands. It will sting if you have scratches or cuts on your fingers or near your nail beds.
  • For tougher stains, you can boil some water with the lemon and salt paste. Let it sit for an hour, and it will loosen up the stains and residue.
  • If that doesn’t work, add a few tablespoons of distilled white vinegar to the boiling water mixture.

Method 5: Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are great to have around the house for several reasons, including softening clothes, capturing lint, and even cleaning enameled cookware.

How does this work? Because the ingredients, specifically the conditioners, in the dryer sheets soften and cut through grease, making it easier to remove.

Supplies

  • Dryer sheets
  • Dish soap
  • Soft brush
  • Water
  • Dish towel

Instructions

  • Add some dish soap to the cookware.
  • Pour some hot water to create a thin layer over the cooking surface.
  • Using your soft brush, gently mix the hot water and dish soap.
  • Add the dryer sheet to the water and fully submerge it.
  • Let it sit for a few hours.
  • Remove the dryer sheet. It should remove stains, dirt, grease, and grime. Use the soft brush to lift away any residual dirt.
  • Thoroughly wash your cookware with warm soapy water.
  • Dry thoroughly.

Tips

  • Dryer sheets contain harsh chemicals, so you don’t want to consume them. Rinse a few times to ensure your cookware is completely clean.
  • Leave this overnight to save you time. Your pan will be ready for use in the morning.

Method 6: Cleaning Agents

If the above methods aren’t cleaning your enameled cookware to your satisfaction, I recommend trying a commercial cleaning agent that’s made specifically for enamel. These cleaners are very affordable and are a sure-fire way to get sparkling results.

Supplies

Instructions

  • Soak your cloth in warm water and rub it over the stains and discolored areas.
  • Pour your cleaning agent over the stained areas.
  • Gently scrub with the cloth.
  • Continue until the stain has lifted.
  • For tough stains, let the cleanser sit on the stain for about 10 minutes. The manufacturer may recommend more or less time, so always read the directions on the container.
  • Rinse the cleanser from the cookware with a wet cloth.
  • Wash it with warm soapy water as usual.
  • Dry thoroughly.

Tips

  • Always check the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific product you choose.
  • Only choose a cleaner that is labeled safe for enamel.
  • Make sure the cleaner is 100% water-soluble, so it doesn’t stay on the cookware.
  • If you’re going to let it soak on the cookware for 10 minutes, test in an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t damage or stain the enamel.
  • If you have a Le Creuset enameled pot or pan, they recommend using either their branded cleaner or Bar Keepers Friend for tough stains and marks.

Method 7: Water & Laundry Detergent

Is your enameled cookware full of stubborn burnt bits? Water and a biological laundry detergent take the hard work out of cleaning enameled cookware. Biological laundry detergent contains enzymes specifically engineered to clean tough stains in clothes, but it’s also safe and effective on enameled cookware.

Supplies

  • Water
  • Liquid biological laundry detergent
  • Sponge
  • Dish soap
  • Dish towel

Instructions

  • Fill the cookware with a couple of inches of water.
  • Bring it to the boil.
  • Pour in one tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent. Stir well and turn off the heat.
  • Let it sit for five minutes.
  • Scrub the cookware out with a sponge and watch the discoloration and stains disappear.
  • Wash normally with warm soapy water.
  • Dry thoroughly.

Tips

  • I only recommend this tip with enameled cookware. Don’t try this on stainless steel or non-stick.
  • Make sure to rinse away the laundry detergent solution thoroughly. You don’t want traces of detergent in the cookware when you next cook.
  • Try a natural laundry detergent to be as safe as possible.

Method 8: Water & Bleach

Using water and bleach is effective at removing stains and discoloration from enameled cookware. But use this method only as a last resort, as it could damage the enamel. If you opt for this method, I don’t recommend doing it more than once a year.

Supplies

  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Sponge or cloth
  • Rubber gloves
  • Dish soap
  • Dish cloth

Instructions

  • Fill the cookware with water and bleach. Use one teaspoon per pint of water. Increase the quantities if necessary, adhering to this ratio.
  • Let it soak overnight.
  • Wearing rubber gloves, use a sponge or cloth to wipe the cookware. Any dirt, grime, and stains should lift.
  • Wash thoroughly with warm soapy water.
  • Dry thoroughly.

Tips

  • Try the other methods before this one. They are safer.
  • Don’t use a 50:50 mix of water and bleach. Adhere only to the stated ratios above.
  • Rinse your cookware more than once after using this method. You don’t want to risk leftover bleach contaminating your food.

Preventative Measures

Preventing stains and discoloration is often easier than removing these blemishes. Here, I share top tips for generally maintaining your enameled cookware.

  • Wash quickly after each use. Don’t leave dirty cookware for hours or stains can settle. Always allow the cookware to cool first, and once it has, wash it well with water and mild dish soap.
  • Use oil, butter, or a cooking spray before cooking to protect the enamel and prevent foods from sticking.
  • Don’t heat the cookware when it’s empty.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Only use high heat with liquid-heavy foods such as soups and stews.
  • Use a soft brush or cloth to clean your cookware. Don’t use metallic scrubbing brushes; they will scratch or damage the cooking surface.
  • Don’t stack the cookware when storing it. Place a pot protector or dish towel over the surface during storage.
  • Always dry the cookware thoroughly.
  • If using metal utensils, use gentle caution.

What to Avoid When Cleaning Enameled Cookware

When cleaning your enameled cookware, here’s what you should avoid.  Always check the manufacturer’s guide; they may offer more suggestions. 

  • Don’t use metal tools, such as foil scrubbers. They’ll scratch the enamel coating. Also, avoid steel wool, rough scrubbers, and abrasive sponges.
  • Never put enameled cookware in the dishwasher. Some brands claim it’s safe, but to preserve your cookware, always wash it by hand.

Final Thoughts

One of the main advantages of enameled cookware is that it’s easy to clean.  But over time, stains and discoloration can build up.

The simplest way to deal with stained and discolored enameled cookware is to avoid it happening in the first place. By practicing the proper maintenance and cooking techniques, you can prevent or minimize stains and discoloration.

But if your cookware does get dirty and stained, try some of the methods we reviewed in this article. Although each of these methods work on their own, I highly recommend starting with Method 1. In most cases, dish soap, warm water, and some honest effort will restore enamel cookware to its original condition.

If Method 1 doesn’t do the trick, move on to the other methods, depending on the supplies you have at the ready. Although it’s completely safe as long as you rinse thoroughly, only use Method 8 as the last restore.

Have you tried any of these methods? Share your experience in the comments below.

If you found this guide helpful, you should also check out:

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