How to Clean Your Dutch Oven (and Why You Maybe Shouldn't!)

Want the inside of your Dutch oven to be spotless? Remember the 1-to-3 rule.

Published June 16, 2023.

Throughout my years of testing and reviewing kitchen gear at America’s Test Kitchen, many people have asked me how to clean a Dutch oven to keep it looking new. 

Maybe it’s shocking to ask, but why would you really want to keep it looking brand-new? Stains and dings on your Dutch oven are badges of honor. You’ve been cooking wonderful things, why not be proud of it?

A Dutch oven, or any other piece of kitchen gear, is one of your tools. Put it this way: How much would you trust a carpenter who showed up with brand-new tools? 

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Your Dutch oven is a means to an end, not a piece of art. (If you really want one just to display, maybe buy a second copy.)

The only part of the Dutch oven that actually functions best if it’s cleaned up would be the interior. If your pot’s interior is cream-colored like the insides of our winner by Le Creuset and our Best Buy from Cuisinart, it will get harder for you to monitor browning when the cream color darkens—as it can after lots of use.

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How to Clean Your Dutch Oven

Here’s how to get the inside of a cream-colored Dutch oven bright again. Word of caution: Because you are using bleach, make sure to do this in a well-ventilated area. And keep it away from pets and kids. 

  1. Make a solution of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water and pour into your Dutch oven.
  2. Let it sit in the pot overnight. If it’s extremely stained, you might have to do it again the next night.
  3. Afterward, rinse the pot very well, and voilà. 

Now you’re ready to start messing it up all over again—deliciously

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