Plus exactly what to do if you notice a chip in your Dutch oven.
aa dutch oven on a designed background with sparkles
Credit: Getty Images / kool99

From Dutch ovens to skillets (we're talking about you, beloved OurPlace Always Pan!), nearly all of our most-used and top-rated pieces of cookware in the EatingWell Test Kitchen are coated with enamel. The smooth porcelain surface is resistant to acidic and alkaline foods, which means it's easy to clean and free of some of the most common nonstick surface chemicals like PFAs. With all of these qualities in mind, we keep one of each—an enamel-coated pot and skillet—on our stovetops at all times at work and at home.

We use our enamel cookware for so many tasks—from frying eggs to making risotto to baking sourdough bread—that we're bound to deal with some stubborn debris or discoloration. (Stuck-on or stained parts are definitely more of an exception than a rule, of course!) So we turned to the pros at Lodge and Le Creuset for their top care tips.

How to Keep Your Enamel Dutch Oven Looking Like New

Even though most cast-iron enamel Dutch ovens, including Le Creuset, are dishwasher-safe, hand washing is recommended. Frequent shifts in the dishwasher may dull the finish, but shouldn't hamper your pot's cooking abilities.

For the best chances of keeping your Dutch oven looking brand-new, follow these enamel care tips:

  • Keep temps in check. Stuck-on food is more likely if you prepare your meal over high heat. Aim to stick to low or medium, if possible.
  • Cool it. Allow the pan to cool to room temperature before cleaning. Placing a hot pot in cold water can crack the enamel. If you do notice any chips, stop using the pan immediately—you don't want to stir any enamel pieces into your meal—and contact your manufacturer. Many offer limited lifetime warranties.
  • Go soft. A soft natural or nylon sponge (no metal scrubbers or steel wool, please) along with warm water and mild dish soap should remove most food pieces. Carolyn Malcoun, senior food features editor for EatingWell, swears by her Lodge Pan Scrapers. Avoid citrus-based or any harsh abrasive cleaners, which can dull the shine.
  • Soak as needed. To tackle stubborn sticky bits or oily residue, fill the pot with warm water and bleach (3 tablespoons per quart of water) and let it soak for 2 to 3 hours or so.
  • Simmer down. If soaking doesn't do the trick, fill the pot with warm water, 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda or Bar Keeper's Friend, then simmer for about 10 minutes. Cool and drain this mixture from the pot, then follow the next two steps.
  • Give it a rinse. Use warm water to wash off any remaining bits and the soapy suds.
  • Dry thoroughly. It's best not to store any cookware while it's still dripping, as this may cause the pot edges to rust. Use a soft cloth to dry it inside and out.
  • Protect your pot. If you store your Dutch oven in a place where it might get jostled around, wrap the lid in a clean kitchen towel or stick some pot protectors between the pot and the lid to prevent chipped enamel.
  • Squelch stains. A small amount of staining is a natural aging process for enamel pots and pans, but using an enamel cleaner (follow package instructions) can help keep most stains at bay.

Fit Men Cook founder Kevin Curry, who just released his own enamel cookware line on Amazon, confirms on Instagram that the same wash and dry strategies should hold true for any enamel skillets (including the Always Pan and Aldi's dupe).

Now that you're in the mood to tidy up, keep the good clean fun going with our 7 best tools that will help you clean smarter—not harder.