Shiny flame orange Le Creuset oval enamelware Dutch oven looks great after cleaning

Cleaning Stained Le Creuset Enamelware

I recently picked up a vintage oval Le Creuset Dutch oven in the wild. Amazing score, right? Well, it depends. The inside looked like this:

I soaked it with vinegar. I soaked it with Dawn PowerWash. I scrubbed it with a baking soda paste. I tried Barkeepers' Friend powder AND liquid. Nothing worked. So how did I restore it back to this?
As it turns out, the answer was to work smart, not hard. Scrubbing and gentle abrasives didn't work because this wasn't stuck on grime; the enamel itself was discoloured, which no amount of elbow grease could restore.
I turned to The Kitchn for guidance. Buried in the middle of this article is a suggested method that involves boiling hydrogen peroxide and baking soda inside the dish to remove the stains. I was intrigued!
First, I did some research to see if it was safe to heat hydrogen peroxide in a dish that would be used for cooking. Hydrogen peroxide is available in many strengths; food-grade hydrogen peroxide (35% H2O2) is frequently used in food production, and you can also find it in certain teeth whitening kits, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc. Household hydrogen peroxide (3% H2O2) is commonly available in pharmacies and you probably have one of those brown bottles in your medicine cabinet at home. 
The consensus is that it's safe to use on kitchen tools and surfaces. Obviously, you should never drink or ingest hydrogen peroxide in any form! 
Now it was time to get to work. Here's how I did it:
  • First, I poured about 2 cups of hydrogen peroxide into my stained Le Creuset dish since the staining went up the sides of the pot
  • I sprinkled a bunch of baking soda into the bottom
  • I set the pot on the stove and turned the heat to medium-high
  • The mixture started to bubble almost immediately
  • I left it on the heat for about a minute, then removed it to a heat-safe trivet and let it cool down

The first pass was so satisfying! As the liquid cooled, I could see that it had removed a lot of staining. When I poured out the peroxide, I was amazed by the difference!

I repeated the process several more times to get the bottom completely clean. It took four passes to get it back to this:

If you're trying to restored a stained Le Creuset Dutch oven (or any enamelware), I highly recommend trying out the hydrogen peroxide & baking soda method!

Cleaning tips:

  • Don't let the hydrogen peroxide sit on the exterior enamel! Peroxide is a bleaching agent and this risks discolouring it.
  • Le Creuset enamelled cast iron cookware starts out with a shiny interior coating, which they call sand enamel. This enamel gets matte with time and use. If your enamel looks more matte after you've removed the stains, this is normal and doesn't affect use.
  • Avoid the need for stain removal by taking good care of your enamelware! Food52 has a great primer here: Guide to Cleaning & Maintaining Le Creuset Cookware
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