Lifespan of LeCreuset enameled cast iron?

Trying to figure out if this is the natural progression of things, if I have damaged my dutch oven, or if maybe I’m just imagining things.

I have a LeCreuset #26 enameled cast iron Dutch oven (this one, in cerise). I’ve had it for at least a decade, maybe longer, and it’s my work horse; it’s the one piece of cookware I use most often and for which I would give up almost everything else in my kitchen. I think I’ve taken good care of it, but lately it feels like stuff is sticking to the bottom much worse than it used to. I’m wondering if I have harmed it. I’m not talking about the normal stuff that you deglaze to make a fond; this seems worse.

I use only wooden, nylon, or silicone tools in it. It has never been dropped or otherwise physically damaged. It has never seen the inside of a dishwasher, despite being labelled as “dishwasher safe.” I typically wash it out with water, a little dish soap, and a Scotch-Brite plastic scrubber. In the past, if there was something particularly gnarly in the bottom, either an overnight soak or boiling some water in the pot would do the trick.

The only thing I can think is that I have, in the past, sometimes used Bar Keepers Friend to clean the worst baked-on stuff, although I see that LeCreuset’s own blog mentions it as an acceptable cleaner.

So - I dunno. Anyone else have their enamel get less “non-stick” over time? Anything to be done about it, if so?

I have the same item, also for about 10 years, and haven’t noticed any difference in its performance. Do you notice any scoring or light scratches on the bottom from the cleanings? Have you ever accidently left something cooking in it far too long?

Fine scratches, but I feel like they’ve been there for a while, and the new “stickiness” feels recent, like within the last few months. I can’t remember ever leaving anything in there long enough to burn or otherwise damage the pot; just the usual hours-long bake in the oven like for Sunday red sauce or coq au vin.

Sorry, I got nothing. My LeCreuset is the absolute workhorse of my kitchen, I’ve always worried more about it damaging my foot if I ever dropped it, then it getting damaged.

I’ve got a couple of Descoware dutch ovens, one roasting pan by a company called Innova, a larger Le Creuset roasting pan, and a Lodge casserole.

All except the Lodge are multi-generational, i.e., I inherited them.

None stick. A couple are discolored, which I attribute to them having been used to cook tomato-based stuff, but functionally, they’re just fine.

My money would be abrasion as the cause of the OP’s sticking problem.

OP says that Le Creuset’s blog mentions Barkeeper’s Friend as an acceptable cleaner. It does, but as an exterior cleaner.

Bar Keeper’s Friend, or a paste of baking soda and water, also comes in handy for cleaning tough stains and marks on the exterior as well.


Maybe some rubbing compound and a lot of elbow grease to buff the interior might smooth the surface enough to alleviate the sticking?

ETA: I see that the Le Creuset blog does mention Barkeeper’s Friend without specifying that it’s for exterior use:

Bar Keeper’s Friend, or a paste of baking soda and water, also comes in handy for cleaning tough stains, oil residue and marks on your Dutch oven as well.

Still, I’d be cautious. Barkeeper’s Friend comes in a liquid, non-abrasive form too – it’s what I use to clean the stainless steel range top at home. I’d use that before I used the powder on a painted or enameled surface.

I would try heating it up (low heat) and then use a paper towel with some vegetable oil to rub the bottom of it. This will both remove any oily debris that may be stuck there, but it will also add some lubrication. Once you are no longer seeing brown stuff come off on the paper towel, use a clean one to wipe out the remaining oil, but don’t soap it up and wash out the remaining oil. Allow it to sit in there until the next time you cook.

I have a Le Creuset oval 1.5 qt. casserole that I gave to my mother for Christmas at least 50 years ago, and it’s stained on the inside but still functions perfectly fine. To give you an idea of exactly how long ago that was, it cost $7.00. :scream_cat: Now available only from ebay and “vinatge” sources.

IOW they last forever.

LeCreuset has a “lifetime warranty.”

It’s supposed to outlast you. There are limits and details on the website, but generally speaking, a decade is nothing.

If you don’t know what else to do, try letting it soak in strong vinegar (enough to cover the bottom of your dutch oven) and scrubbing again. If it’s okay to scrub with a paper towel, try that and see if it picks up any residue. That’s the trick in my kitchen for pots (especially stainless steel) that look fine but stick due to calcium deposits.

Thanks, everyone.

Last night, she performed flawlessly making some mattar paneer, so maybe I’ve just been imagining that things are not as good as they once were. I’ll try to keep better track of the ins and outs and see if I can’t determine a pattern.

Like I said, entirely possible I’m imagining things. We’ll see.

Not LeCreuset, but my large Dutch Oven is at least 70 years old. It was my mother’s before I was born and I forget the details of any mindnumbingly boring story she told me about it. The bottom has a number of scratches, I treat it tenderly these days, but it will be fine even if the iron underneath the enameling is exposed. I suppose it may not be safe to use if the coating is coming off in chunks but I’ve never seen one in that state.

Minor hijack; I’ve been thinking about buying enameled cast iron cookware (not necessarily LeCreuset, mind you) though lack of space is holding me back. Are you not supposed to use metal tools in them?

It’s not recommended. The enamel surface is tough but can chip.

You have to be careful or that pan will be a mess 75 years from now.

I think in general you shouldn’t use metal tools on any cookware that you care about, even cast iron–you’ll potentially scrape off some of that precious seasoning. I have a couple of metal tools but I can’t think of any instance where I considered using them.

I was thinking of things like my stick blender. I was making something last weekend that I wanted to puree, so I transferred it from the nonstick Calphalon pot to a mixing bowl to blend. Sometimes it would be nice to puree in place.

Use your stick blender and keep it off the bottom. If you like, take a large ladle and scoop up your contents and puree it one scoop at a time in the ladle.

Mine pitted horribly over time - I probably had it fifteen years. I probably miscleaned it

What do you mean by ‘pitted’? Corrosion that ate into the iron?

Corrosion that ate into the enamel.