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Illustration for article titled Your Dutch Oven Is Trashed: Here’s How To Make It Insta-Worthy Again
Photo: Edgar Castrejon (Unsplash)
SqualorJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Email her.

A lament: “How come everyone else’s dutch oven is pristine white and mine looks like it’s been through a war?”

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Well, the short answer is actually that all those people with pristine-looking dutch ovens—the pretty and colorful ones made by Le Creuset, Staub, Lodge, etc.—haven’t ever used them. The longer answer, which I will now provide to you, is that yup, there’s a trick to getting an enameled dutch oven looking almost-brand new.

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Here’s the good news (bad news is coming so don’t get too excited): There is a trick to getting the interior of an enameled dutch oven and it requires virtually no heavy labor on your part. The secret is to dip into your laundry supplies — OxiClean will save your dutch oven. Yup!

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Fill the pot about ¾ of the way up with water and add a heaping tablespoon of OxiClean or a similar oxygen bleach.

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Bring the solution to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the solution cool completely before discarding. Then, wash the pot well with hot soapy water.

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Okay so I warned you that bad news was coming and here it is: Cleaning the exterior of an oft-used enameled dutch oven is straightforward but it is not necessarily easy. A lot of elbow grease is required, is what I’m trying to tell you.

What is not required, however, is any kind of fancy cleaning product—good old baking soda will do the trick!

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Two other products to mention are Bon Ami and Bar Keepers Friend, mildly abrasive powder cleansers that are often used to gently scrub enameled cast iron dutch ovens.

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They’re good products! But I also have never found them to work better than baking soda, and baking soda is cheaper—plus, you probably already have some in the house. Sidebar: If you have expired baking soda that can no longer be used for baking, it can still be used for cleaning.

Okay so here’s what you’re going to do: Wet a scrub sponge—either a two-sided dealie like the Scotch-Brite scrub sponge or a non-scratch scrub sponge like the Dobie Pad (avoid steel wool scouring pads and other heavy duty scrub sponges, which can cause scratching).

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Pour a quarter-sized amount of baking soda on the sponge, gently squeeze it a few times to get the powder wet and sort of paste-like, then introduce it to the exterior of the pot and scrub. And scrub. Now keep scrubbing. You’ll need to re-wet the sponge and apply more baking soda as you work, paying special attention to badly stained and scorched areas.

It will be work! But eventually, you will scrub your way to an almost-new looking pot, and you will be happy. Then, you may go forth and Instagram it, and whatever delicious thing you’ve cooked in it, with pride.

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Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person

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