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Cleaning LC exterior tips (forgot to take Before shots but they were totally black oil, burnt bottoms from years of stovetop use)
My cleaning Le Crueset takeaway: thought might help some people. *This post isn’t for those who love the wear and tear and stain as some sign of cookware love. I also did not want to use the oven cleaner for toxicity reasons. I would probably try to stay away from BKF also if I can.
So I pulled out my three LC cast irons that were all black on the bottom, including the side. I forgot to take the before photos but trust me, you couldn’t see the bottom. I somehow thought that was the way cookwares get with age, but that’s actually not true, since I saw plenty photos of LC cookwares which were not like that, and I wanted to see my beautiful LC how they used to look on the side and bottom. So I pulled my 3 worst ones out.
Mistake # 1: I began with my skillet, which was nearly black and oil stain on bottom and side which I wiped with a very worn out scotch brite (it was near soft) and Bar Keeper Friend, and that was hard, took on and off all day, and my hand and my fingers were sore from rubbing the sponge on the stain, and I was afraid I was scratching the enamel which I probably did. Finally, my skillet came out looking nearly new, but I would not do that again. So much effort and so much BKF stuff which might not be that great for enamel and for much uncertainty.
I then took out my 2 dutch ovens (4 qt & 5.5 qt) which had totally black burnlike grime on the bottom exterior, going up the side. Neither exterior had been seriously cleaned for several years, and the 4qt one was bad (from baking bread once, which I would never do again). I tried EVERYTHING (Bar Keeper Friend, Baking soda, Lemon, vinegar etc), and NOTHING worked. Finally after googling for HOURS, I filled 5.5 qt with water, about 1/4 way, and then when it came to boil, added in 2-3 Tb of baking soda and 1-2 Tb Hydrogen Peroxide in it, and foam began to form. I put my 4 qt DO in the 5.5 qt DO then simmered for about 15-30 minutes, and took out. From what I understood, black bits should all now separate and float in the water, but that didn’t really work though a little bit of the black bits were now definitely easier to remove with BKF. I did this over and over for hours, and finally I did get all the black bits off. But that was not all that different from scrubbing, though definitely easier than my try with the skillet.
Finally, with my 5.5 qt DO, I needed some vessel to put that in. So I got my All Clad very wide 12 inches stainless shallow frying pan and filled it with hot water, then brought it to boil. Then added in BS & HP. Did the same, foam happened, so I put the DO in it and simmered. It’s shallow so took much less water and all was fast. Soon I saw black bits floating up in water as I saw on some of the posts when googling. After about 10 minutes, I took out my DO. The water had many black bits in it. I took my sponge and all the black stain on my DO just came straight off, literally like as one might with a tissue. It was a bit like magic and a breeze!
True, the bigger DO black burn / caked grime / oil stain must have been not as deeply set perhaps why all hard black bits came straight off but I think using the shallow frying pan was the key which changed the baking soda / Hydrogen peroxide ratio to the water. So the solution was very simple: bring water to boil, put baking soda & hydrogen peroxide, then put your LC item in the boling water, simmer, and soon all the grime / stain will fall off.
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