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While this might send you into a panic, don’t just dump your food and resign yourself to a life of dirty, disastrous cookware. There is hope yet for your favorite cooking vessel.

Soap, water, and the scrubbing side of a sponge should always be your first line of defense on enamelware like a Dutch oven, but if that isn’t enough to remove caked-on food or burnt spots, you need to move onto a heartier solution.

Dutch oven hero
Credit: Reviewed/Mike Roorda

Here’s how to get your Dutch oven back to its original state:

What you need

  • Your dirtied Dutch oven
  • A standard dish sponge, or gentle scrub pad (no steel wool!)
  • A bottle of Bar Keepers Friend (liquid and powdered forms both work) or Bon Ami
  • Running water

What to do

1. Assess and prep the Dutch oven

While being careful not to burn yourself on a still-hot Dutch oven, remove as much solid food debris as you can with wooden or plastic utensils and a scrubby sponge.

Dutch oven clean 6
Credit: Reviewed/Mike Roorda

2. Fill the Dutch oven with a small amount of warm water

You only want about half an inch of water in the pot for now—you can add fresh water later if needed.

Dutch oven clean 1
Credit: Reviewed/Mike Roorda

3. Sprinkle or pour a tablespoon of Bar Keepers Friend (or Bon Ami) onto the scratchy side of a sponge

Bar Keepers Friend will work faster and harder than other cleaners, but if you’re opposed to synthetic chemicals, Bon Ami is a comparable natural alternative. You don’t need a lot on the sponge to get started.

Dutch oven clean 5
Credit: Reviewed/Mike Roorda

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4. Scrub the Dutch oven hard until the water is thoroughly dirtied

Work in circular motions, and don’t be afraid to add some elbow grease.

Dutch oven clean 3
Credit: Reviewed/Mike Roorda

5. Swap out the water and keep scrubbing until all the dark particles are gone

This should only take a few minutes!

Dutch oven clean 2
Credit: Reviewed/Mike Roorda

6. Empty and dry the Dutch oven

This is the victory lap of the cleaning process.

Dutch oven clean 7
Credit: Reviewed/Mike Roorda

7. Enjoy your like-new Dutch oven!

If the outside of your vessel is also scorched up, you can repeat this process with the same materials until the exterior is also good as new. It will take more time and effort, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

Dutch oven clean 4
Credit: Reviewed/Mike Roorda

This process has brought my favorite Dutch oven back to life multiple times—and those bad boys are too expensive to not treat properly. Want to know how to clean all your other pots and pans? Check out our guide for caring for your cookware.

Meet the tester

Cassidy Olsen

Cassidy Olsen

Editor, Kitchen & Cooking


Cassidy covered all things cooking as the kitchen editor for Reviewed from 2018 to 2020. An experimental home chef with a healthy distrust of recipes, Cassidy lives by the "Ratatouille" philosophy that, with a few techniques and key tools, anyone can cook. She's produced in-depth reviews and guides on everything from meal kits to stand mixers and the right way to cook an egg.

See all of Cassidy Olsen's reviews

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