Scrub with caution.

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How to Clean an Enameled Cast Iron
Credit: Getty Images

Chances are you probably have an enameled cast-iron pot, pan, or Dutch oven sitting in your kitchen cabinets, but do you know how to clean enameled cast iron? Whether you treated yourself to a colorful collection from Le Creuset, or inherited your grandma's tried-and-true enameled cast iron pot, you need to know how to take care of it to ensure that it outlasts your days in the kitchen. It should come as no shock that keeping that signature cream colored finish takes work and just a little bit of TLC. And besides your cast-iron skillet, an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven is one of the most trusty kitchen staples to have on hand.

Here are a few simple steps for how to clean enameled cast iron:

1. Let the Dutch oven, pot, or pan completely cool.

This step is essential. Just with any pot or pan fresh from the oven, you don't want a burst of steam to erupt when your sink water hits the piping hot vessel. Letting the enameled cast iron cool also ensures that you won't crack the enamel with a drastic temperature change.

2. Use a mild dish soap and soft nylon sponge to clean the cast iron.

Although most enameled cast irons are dishwasher safe, it's best not to put them in the dishwasher because doing so could dull the shine on the enamel. For the same reason, you also don't want to use any bleach products or harsh cleaning products on your enameled cast iron. A nylon sponge is recommended to avoid scratching the enamel.

3. If necessary, use a silicone pot scraper to work off any burnt-on bits of food.

Stubborn bits of food always seem to find their way onto all of our pots and pans. We know it's tempting to go to town with a reliable metal brush or scrub pad, but for the love of good cookware, don't do it on your enameled cast iron. Metal scrubs can easily scratch and chip your enameled cast iron, which in the long run won't have a major effect on the functionality, but it won't look nearly as pretty. If you do need a little extra reinforcement when cleaning off a pot, you can buy a silicon pot scraper in the kitchen section of most stores or online.

4. Rinse, dry, and store the clean enameled cast iron.

Now that your enameled cast iron is squeaky clean, simply give it one last rinse and dry it off with a soft towel. When you store it, be sure that you don't stack any other dishes on top of it. Stacking could also scratch or chip the enamel. If you want to prevent loud clanging of the pot and lid every time you pick it up, you can buy pot protectors, which slide on the lip of the pot.

5. If staining occurs…

Keep in mind that some staining may happen as you continue to use the pot, which is nothing to be ashamed of – It means you're getting good use out of a kitchen staple. If you want to remove staining, you can make a paste of baking soda and water and use the same soft sponge to rub the paste in a circular motion on the pot. The paste is slightly more abrasive than the sponge, but won't scrape or damage your pot.

Now that you know how to clean enameled cast iron, you're off to the races to see how many recipes you can make using it. You might as well consider your enameled cast-iron Dutch oven your future contribution to the family heirloom collection.  

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