** UPDATE: April 2019 **
In March of 2019, I mentioned that a Reader had passed along a magical cleaning solution that would make your Le Creuset pots and pans sparkle like new. I included the formula in the post but when I thought it deserved its own space, I created this post.
BUT THEN: Upon posting the entry, I immediately received a comment and a link to an article that gave me pause.
Let’s start from the beginning. First, here is the solution, which is intended for use on enameled cookware:
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 tablespoon bleach
- 1 cup water
- Scale up as needed.
For both my Le Creuset Dutch oven and braiser, I had been dumping 1/2 cup bleach and 1/2 cup white vinegar into the pot, then pouring water up to the very tip top of the vessel and bringing it to a gentle simmer for about 5 minutes. It worked like a charm.
To clean the exterior, I plugged my sink and, using pot holders, carefully transferred the pot from the stovetop to the sink, dumped the solution into the sink, and filled it up with more hot water. With the sink full, I scrubbed both the exterior and interior of the pot with a slightly abrasive sponge, until my pans beamed.
What I learned from that article is that combing bleach and vinegar “produces chlorine gas, which even at low levels, can cause coughing, breathing problems, and burning, watery eyes,”
To be sure, I called poison control to confer.
They, too, despite my pleading — Really? I can’t use a teensy tiny bit? Even if I’ve never experienced the adverse side effects? Is a small amount of chlorine gas so terrible? — agreed that bleach and vinegar should not be mixed.
“Ma’am,” they told me. “Don’t do it.”
Ugh. OK. Fine.
The upshot of all of this is that I’ve found a non-toxic solution that actually works just as beautifully. It’s not a DIY solution, but perhaps that’s just as well. This solution comes from Le Creuset itself: Cast Iron Cookware Cleaner. It costs $25, which may feel pricey, but you need a small amount for each job — this bottle will last a long time.
Friends, how do you clean your enameled cast iron cookware? I’d love to know.
Here’s what is NOT RECOMMENDED: Combining bleach and vinegar.