Enameled cast iron dutch ovens are becoming increasingly popular in many kitchens due in part to their durability and non-stick properties.

A dirty dutch oven.

However, when it comes to cleaning and maintaining these appealing cookware pieces, there is an ongoing debate about whether using a dishwasher is a suitable option or not.

I cook a lot with cast iron skillets and have received my fair share of questions regarding how to season a skillet and how to get rust off a cast iron skillet.

But today, we are going to set those questions aside and focus solely on enameled cast iron. Specifically, should you clean your enameled cast iron in the dishwasher?

Before I give you my real-world take, let us go to the experts.

What do the manufacturers say?

While some manufacturers do claim their enameled cast iron products are dishwasher safe, most still recommend NOT using a dishwasher to clean your enameled cast iron cookware.

I have gone to Lodge Cookware for reference before, and today, I go there again to see where they stand on the topic.

And let me just say many other manufacturers have a similar take. Anyway, to preserve the finish on your cookware items, Lodge recommends hand washing with warm soapy water.

Essentially, while many enameled dutch ovens are technically dishwasher safe, the dishwasher could potentially dull the enamels shine.

This won’t affect its performance necessarily, but it will affect its appearance.

Why we don’t use a dishwasher on enameled cast iron cookware

When it comes to taking care of enameled cast iron cookware, I’ve found that a little extra care goes a long way in preserving its longevity and performance.

While some manufacturers say that enameled cast iron is dishwasher-safe, I personally recommend hand washing to best preserve the finish and avoid any potential damage.

Besides, it really doesn’t take any extra time to hand wash it!

What is enameled cast iron anyway?

These cookware pieces have a porcelain enamel coating, which makes them more user-friendly and easier to clean.

Unlike traditional cast iron, enameled versions don’t require seasoning, and they’re designed to minimize sticking.

My reasons for not using a dishwasher on enameled cookware

As someone who enjoys using enameled cast iron cookware, I personally think it’s easier to avoid the dishwasher altogether and simply wash it by hand.

This saves space in the dishwasher as well as time since you can hand wash a dutch oven in just a couple of minutes.

Aside from personal preference, here are two reasons why I do not recommend using a dishwasher.

1. Damaging the enamel finish

The most common concern when it comes to cleaning your dutch oven is the use of abrasive detergents in the dishwasher.

Enameled cast iron cookware has a layer of enamel coating, which is somewhat delicate.

Using abrasive detergents or metal scrubbers can dull the look of the enamel, as well as scratch the finish.

For this reason, I prefer to use gentle soap and a non-abrasive sponge when washing my enameled cast iron pieces.

2. The risk of chipping

Lastly, I want to be mindful of the chipping risk associated with dishwashers.

The movement and jostling during the dishwasher cycle, combined with other dishes and utensils, can cause the enameled cast iron cookware to chip or break.

This risk increases if the cookware is improperly secured when placed in the dishwasher.

So, taking this into consideration, I opt to hand wash my enameled cast iron to ensure its longevity and maintain its pristine appearance.

How to hand wash your enamel dutch oven

Step 1: Loosen bits of stuck-on food with a wooden spoon

Fill your pot with warm water and dish soap. Then use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrap loose any stuck-on food.

Scraping an enameled dutch oven clean with a wooden spatula.

Step 2: Rinse and wash

Next, rinse the pot before scrubbing it with warm soapy water using a non-abrasive sponge or brush. Rinse with cool water!

Top Tip: Avoid anything metal! Do not use metal scrapers or scrub brushes to avoid damaging the enamel finish.

Scrubbing the enameled dutch oven with a sponge and soapy water.

Step 3: Pat dry with a clean towel

Once you have cleaned your cookware, it’s important to dry it thoroughly before storing it in a cabinet.

Generally, I’ll just leave it on the dry rack for a couple of hours, but if you need the space, make sure to dry it well before storing it.

Drying an enameled dutch oven with a clean towel.

Additional Tips

  • It’s normal for a small amount of staining to occur with enameled cookware. Don’t worry; it won’t affect performance!
  • Always ensure the cookware is completely dry before storing it to prevent any moisture-related damage.
  • When cooking, avoid using metal utensils on enameled cookware to prevent chipping or scratching the enamel.
  • Always allow the cookware to cool down before cleaning. For safety, of course, and to prevent the enamel from cracking.
A clean dutch oven after washing by hand with soapy water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to clean enameled cast iron cookware in the dishwasher?

Many enameled cast iron dutch ovens are considered dishwasher safe. However, many of those manufacturers still recommend hand washing to protect the finish.

What is the best way to clean enameled cast iron?

The best way to clean enameled cast iron is to use warm soapy water. After allowing your enameled cookware to cool, gently scrub the surface with a brush, cloth, or pan scraper to remove food residue.

Then wash clean with soap and water.

Can I use vinegar to clean enameled cast iron?

Yes, vinegar or baking soda is excellent for loosening up stubborn, stuck-on, or burnt food.

Can I use Bar Keeper’s Friend to clean tough stains?

Yes, many dutch oven manufacturers, including Le Creuset, recommend Bar Keeper’s Friend for removing stubborn stains and oil marks.

Can I let my dutch oven soak?

If I encounter stubborn food residue, I’ve found that soaking the pan in warm water and gentle dish soap for 15-20 minutes works just as well as any of the above options.

Recommended products

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Wrapping up

So, should you clean your enameled cast iron in the dishwasher? The answer is almost certainly no. Enameled cast iron performs and looks its best when it’s hand washed.

By taking the time to properly care for my enameled cast iron cookware, I’ve found that it lasts longer and consistently delivers the delicious, evenly-cooked results I’ve come to love.

So, I suggest treating these kitchen essentials with the care they deserve – your taste buds will thank you.

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