Are your enameled cast iron pots and pans stained or discolored? They perform fine but they look a tad unsightly and you want to avoid chipping them, right? Here’s how to care for enameled cast iron cookware and options on how to remove the staining.
Caring for enameled cast iron
Caring for enameled cast iron involves proper use, cleaning, storing, and restoring these great looking pots and pans.
One main care approach with these when you’re using them is to avoid metal utensils. You’ll find if you do use metal, you’ll have these gray marks and a compromised surface that attracts further staining.
Another is to avoid high flames. You might find exposure to high flames will scorch the exterior of your pan and you may find it hard to restore it to its original beauty.
How to clean enameled cast iron
How to clean enameled cast iron is pretty straightforward…
✅ Let the pot or pan cool first — so you don’t risk ruining the enamel through thermal shock.
✅ It’s best to hand wash with warm soapy water and a stiff nylon brush. Use a bamboo or plastic scraper on the food residue and it should come away easily.
X Never immerse a hot pan or pot. If food is stuck, add some water (after it’s cooled) and let soak for 15 mins or so.
X Don’t use metal scourers or metal scrapers on enameled cast iron or you risk leaving marks
Storing enameled cookware
You need to store these properly or you risk chipping the enamel and exposing the black cast iron beneath. Avoid stacking the pots and pans, but if you have limited space then use pan protectors that do a good job of preventing unnecessary marks and chips.
Available at Amazon
Restoring — removing discoloration
One of the biggest care factors with enameled cast iron is the staining it tends to get.
Why does enameled cast iron stain?
The enamel cooking surface of enameled cast iron wears and dulls with use over time, especially with frequent use of dishwasher, abrasive cleaners, and metal utensils. The surface becomes porous.
Carbon residue or coloring from foods settles in the micro pores and stains the once lustrous finish of the cookware. Heat will burn oils and fats that remain on the outside after washing — why it’s important to take proper care when washing and drying to remove residue.
What you should know: Your enameled cookware will stain — expect it . Manufacturers say it won’t interfere with your cookware’s performance. But for look’s sake, you might want to remove the stain…
Let’s look at ways you can fix stained enamelled cast iron...
You’ll find various sources list vinegar, baking soda, bleach, or Bar Keepers Friend as the best way to clean stained enameled cast iron cookware.
Bar Keepers Friend is a commercial product that I find has many uses inside and outside the house and is a worthwhile purchase overall. You could also opt for the care kit by Lodge, which mentioned further down.
Here are ways to clean stained enameled cast iron
As a first ‘go-to’ for how to clean enameled cast iron with vinegar, try diluting it in a splash of water and wipe the cookware with a cloth soaked in this solution. Make sure to rinse properly and dry before storing.
Vinegar will make the product shine but it may not remove persistent staining.
Using baking soda
To use baking soda to clean enameled cast iron: Dampen a cloth with water and then dab it into some baking soda. Rub the enameled surface with this cloth in light circular motions, focusing on the stained area. Rinse well and dry.
For scratchless cleaning
available at Amazon
For more stubborn baked-on food, partly fill the pot or pan with water and add baking soda.
- You’ll want a concentration of about 2 tablespoons of baking soda for each cup of water.
- Allow to boil for a few minutes to loosen the residue.
- Then remove the food remnants with a plastic or bamboo scraper. Rinse and dry as usual.
Using Bar Keepers Friend for enamel cast iron cookware
Can I use Bar Keepers Friend on enameled cast iron? By all means, apply this product at the sink. Sprinkle on the BKF and rub with a damp cloth, concentrating in small circles on the stained sections. Avoid abrasive scourers or you risk marking the pan further.
You can use BKF inside and outside the enameled pan. Make sure to rinse and dry well after cleaning and repeat as needed. This product is also great for cleaning and polishing stainless steel cookware and 100% ceramics but is not ideal for cast iron cookware as the makers will tell you.
Bar Keepers Friend makers: “what do you do when you forget about a pot of beans and bake them into the sides of your Dutch oven? The answer is … BKF it.”
Recommended cookware cleaner
Bar Keepers Friend Cookware Cleanser
available at Amazon
On cleaning enameled cast iron cookware, it’s always best to refer to manufacturers care instructions, especially for warranty reasons. Lodge, one of the popular cast iron cookware brands in the US, say to avoid using citrus or citrus-based cleaners.
Lodge recommends it’s own cleaner kit for removing stains from its enameled cast iron cookware.
Enameled Cast Iron Care Kit
available at Amazon
But for hard to remove stains, their advice is to soak the pan in bleach — see next.
How to get stains out of enamelled cast iron using bleach
On removing stains from enameled cast iron using bleach:
- Partly fill the pot or pan with water and add household bleach.
- The concentration is 3 tablespoons of household bleach for each quart of water. Let it sit for 2-3 hours.
- Then clean as recommended above.
There are reasons for choosing cast iron over other types of cookware in your kitchen. With enameled cast iron cookware there’s no need for seasoning the product like you do in caring for the classic cast iron. Dutch ovens are mostly what people choose in enameled cookware.
They will stain and while this does not take away from their performance, you may want to remove the stain for the sake of their looks. A creamy interior rather than a brown discolored one is more attractive to many home cooks. Hopefully the above has given you some helpful hints on caring for your cookware.