Maintenance

The finish on your Descoware can only be ‘restored’ in very limited ways. Bleaching at full strength tends to break down the enamel components, leaving the surface porous– not shiny. Acids used to remove stains can also break down the components in older pieces- the formulas used prior to 1964 in enameling were not very resistant to acids. Also, EVERY abrasive [kitchen cleansers, polishing or buffing compounds, sandpaper, steel wool] is going to scratch the enamel surface according to the materials grit. For abrasives, look for a number– the higher the number, the smaller the grit. Regarding tools, a Dremel has great accessories and supplies for polishing and buffing.

Here are some suggestions from the Porcelain Enamel Institute.

DECORATED ENAMELWARE – wash in sudsy water, dry with a soft cloth.

KITCHENWARE – wash in sudsy water. If necessary use a plastic scouring pad or wooden scraper to remove burnt-on food. Burnt-on food may be loosened by soaking in a solution of 2 teaspoons baking soda and 1 quart of water. Avoid abrasive scouring powder or steel wool. For heavy baked-on grease, or spills, occasional use of a fine steel wool pad or scraping with a razor blade is OK.

Lime Deposits in teakettles may be removed by a solution of vinegar and water.

Rust Stains can be removed by using commercial rust remover or by using a solution of 1 tablespoon oxalic acid crystals (poison), dissolved in 1⁄2 cup warm water. Apply to stain, allow to stand a few minutes, then rinse well.

UNKNOWN STAIN:
On glazed surfaces, apply a stiff paste of whiting (calcium carbonate) and household ammonia; let it stand for one hour, then wash it off with soapy water. On porous surfaces, mix household scouring powder with water to make it slurry, and mop it over the area. Let the solution stand for approximately five minutes, then scrub the surface vigorously with a stiff-bristled brush.

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50 Responses to Maintenance

  1. Madeline says:

    I have had this fabulous descoware for 44 years and still love it. My big question is the white enamel is now off in several places on my favorite stock/soup pot. Is it still safe to use this with the “black” showing?
    thanks..Madeline

  2. Madeline says:

    Please let me know that once the enamal begins to chip, is it time to not use it any more.
    I have had mine for 43 years and all but one are still in great shape. I love the skillets with the handles that unscrew.
    Madeline

  3. Peter Fay says:

    We have a vintage 1970 full set of Descoware. The 4 qt Dutch oven has begun to chip and lose some of the enamel on the bottom inside. Is this unsafe to continue using? Is it common?
    Thanks
    Peter

  4. Jayne says:

    I too have a 1970’s Descoware dutch oven; it has a quarter-sized spot of cast-iron on the inside bottom. I wonder if this spot will just keep enlarging? Is this what has happened to anyone else? Thanks.

  5. SYVIA DHENIN says:

    The instruction which came with my Descoware was to put baking soda into the pan with water and bring it to the boil and then let it stand and the burnt on material would wash off. To clean the exterior I sometimes us oven cleaner—NEVER ON THE INSIDE.

  6. Kim says:

    Hi,Kevin,
    I recently purchased a small flame red skillet that had dark marks in the white enamel on the inside of the skillet. I used Brasso to clean it; you wouldn’t believe the difference; it looks brand new. Now I am excited to begin my collection of new yet darkened or scratched Descoware.

  7. Candy Eve says:

    If the cast iron is coming through the enamel, it is perfectly safe to use. Just remember to season that area as you would plain uncoated, non-procelain or enamel cast iron, so it won’t rust. It is like using plain cast iron!

  8. Jody Hood says:

    Kevin, I have a sky blue Descoware dutch oven. I have lost the lid. It is plainly marked Descoware, Made in Belgium, on the bottom. My Mother bought it for me 30-40 years ago and I loved it. However, it cracked on the bottom inside, when it was still new and Bullocks, Los Angeles, CA, where it was purchased, would not take it back. I have since used it for plants. I now have a Le Creuset dutch oven that looks exactly like it, in yellow, and the enamel is all going on the inside. I am going to contact Le Creuset as it has a Lifetime Warranty. I asked Crate & Barrel about it and they sold me a special cleanser for it. Still I am not sure if it is safe to use. What do you suggest?
    Jody Hood

  9. I’ve used that oven cleaner trick too.

  10. Underneath, Descoware is just cast iron.

  11. Nice tip. Brasso has a really tiny abrasive.

  12. Marie Valentino says:

    Hello! What a great site! I recently received a flame dutch oven that belonged to my great grandmother. The interior enamel is chipped in several areas and very porous. She was an amazing cool and used this piece often. I wanted to have it re-enameld. Wondering if anyone else has ever had this done and what info you may have.

    Thanks

  13. A beginner says:

    Great pictures and informative site. I just bought a beautiful DRU Holland pot (similar to DescoWare) at a charity shop, but unfortunately several spots inside the pot and at the edge of the lid have chipped enamel like some others describe. I used Bon Ami but couldn’t remove all the rust stains on these spots. I oiled the spots anyway and for now will be using the pot as a decoration. I am sure many experienced cooks have used chipped enamelware safely but I am not comfortable doing this yet, especially as I don’t know anything about what was cooked/how the pot was previously treated.

  14. Leah says:

    I can’t seem to use my lovely new-used descoware to saute onions–even with plenty of olive oil, they stick and burn. Is there a seasoning method I should use first? Please help!

  15. Nope. No seasoning. Enamel is basically glass. It sounds like you might have the pan a little hot…? Also, when I started using mine I had to switch back to metal utensils… the plasticky utensils made for non-stick cookware can’t “cut” between the pan and the food.

  16. Carin says:

    Dear Fellow Descoware Fans:

    While cleaning up enameled cast iron from several manufacturers such as, Descoware, Le Creuset, DRU Holland, and Copco previously owned and recycled on EBAY, this is what I have learned.

    Le Creuset Customer Service suggests oven cleaner for the outside ONLY and laundry detergent for the inside. Laundry detergent has many enzymes that can safely clean the inside. To do this fill the pot with water and laundry detergent and simmer for fifteen minutes or so and let cool before rinsing.

    More recently, Le Creuset has manufactured a cleaner for enameled cast iron as has Sur La Table. Both of these brands I would use on the inside white/cream/grey colored enamel. However, I would test a spot on the outside enamel first before giving the pot a good scrub. It seems to me that the new enamelware cleaners dulled the orange of the bottom of one of my Descoware sauce pots. So for the outside, I stick with the Oven Off fume free oven cleaner. If my memory serves me correctly, both brands of enamelware cleaner have low concentations of sulfuric acid, which removes rust stains. Additionally, there is a common polishing agent within both the enamelware cleaners.

    For baked on carbon that collected around the fire ring of a Descoware skillet, I used a dental tool that has a dulled point without scratching the enamel after soaking it in oven cleaner for a day or two.

    During my investigation of how best to clean affordable recycled enameled cast iron purchased on Ebay, I noticed manufacturers’ initial experiments of using black or grey enamel for the interior of skillets rather than white. Whereas, now Le Creuset ONLY uses black enamel for the interior of its skillets and grills.

    The process of cooking food in cast iron that results in blackening is carbonization. So for browning onions, I use a fry pan with black interior enamel or an unmarked flame chicken fryer with carbonized white interior enamel.

    Carbonization is what makes cast iron cooking surfaces so smooth over time. In its care instructions, for skillets and grills Le Creuset refers to carboniztion as a brown patina that should not be removed for the reason that it presence increases the peformance of the cooking vessel.

    Oh, for those cooked on browned onions, I find that regular dish detergent and water simmered in the cooking vessel loosens the “kitchen treasures” as Julia Child would say. If the surface is still rough, I use an expired credit card to safely remove the stickons!

  17. Liz c. says:

    My Grandmother cleaned the large pan after my mother had burnt the bottem of it and after soaking, the burnt stuff came off, but it was still nasty dark brown looking. My Grandmother was born in Oklahoma when it was still a Territory and part Native American, so you used what was at hand. This is what she did; She put water in the pan and a large amount of Baking Soda (it was the Dutch Oven) so we used amost a box. and put it on low for a while. she kept checking the pan to see how it was coming along, and finally it did come clean and white. My brother has that pan and uses it this day for Paella and soups mostly. He had a stew which stuck to the bottom and couldn’t remember how Gram cleaned it, so He had to email me. It took awhile but the pan it back in use. Liz

  18. Aloma says:

    I was thrifting at my fave local secondhand store yesterday and picked up a gorgeous orange cast iron saucepan…its been there at least a week because I remember seeing it there before and thinking it was too bad the handle was missing…(duh!!!). For some reason it beckoned me to take it home though and a whole week later I did, what I discovered is love at first site with Descoware! I had no idea a $1.99 purchase would make me sO happy. Thanks for all the awesome info…and happy treasure hunting!

    Aloma

  19. SaraTinkelman says:

    Hi – I’ve been using oven cleaner on the hardest-to-clean *external* surface for years, usually around the bottom ring, with excellent results. Normally this is only necessary when I bring home a new piece that’s been neglected for many years. And “Bar Keepers Friend” on the interior when a good soaking doesn’t do the job, is extremely fine grit and usually lifts the stains. Use only as much as you need and only for as long as you need to, and scrub with a *light* hand. I’m so proud of my collection I can’t stand the thought of them not shining when I show them off!

  20. Marissa Gonzalez says:

    Hi Descoware fans. Isn’t it okay to just let carbon (stains) build up on the white enamel interior? Doesn’t it act the same as build-up on uncoated cast iron? Isn’t is as beneficial as build-up on woks and old cast iron pans, even if it may not be as visually attractive as gleaming white?
    I’ve been forgoing the aesthetics of keeping my white pan interiors white and just focusing on keeping the outsides perfect… because I thought it was probably a great cooking surface to allow the carbon build-up. Thoughts? Thanks.

  21. Midge says:

    Kevin,
    I have a large yellow dutch oven from my grandmother that I need redone, is this possible?
    We use it a lot but the inside bottom enamel is worn away and becoming pitted.
    Midge

  22. Bobby says:

    The interior/bottom enamel of my Descoware is flaking off in one section. Should I discontinue use?

  23. Clint says:

    I have several pieces of descoware that I bought(I believe)in the 70’s. One of which is a 5Qt Dutch oven which I use more than any other pot. Tonight I put some olive in it to heat up for sauce but by the time I cut the onions I found that the enamel was flaking off of the bottom. I have done this hundreds of times, so don’t know what happened. My question is, do you know if there is any way to re-enamel the pot? And if so, any suggestion on where to get it done? I would really love to be able to save this pot!!!
    Thanks.

  24. Melody says:

    I recently purchased some Descoware and have never used any enamel/iron cooking pieces. Is there anything special I should know about cooking in them?

  25. Cheryl says:

    I have had my Descoware since the 60’s. I was learning to cook as a child and wanted my own cookware. My first pan was a caserole, then a small pot and next a bean pot. I have used them all these years and they still look like new. The instructions when I got them new said to only use wooden utensils. No metal. I have only used wood or silicone utensils. I also use a diluted solution of bleach to clean. The interior is still snowy white. They are all a beautiful avocado green.

  26. Louise Anderson says:

    I received several pieces of Descoware in 1963. The only piece I’ve used is the Dutch Oven. The other pans have only had minimal use. But now the oven is showing signs of rust spots on the bottom where the enamel has worn off. Is this because of the fact that my husband uses this pot to “cook” his tomatoes when preparing them for freezer storage. Should I have said “no” to the acid of the tomatoes? If I treat the rust spots, I’m assuming the pot will be safe to use again.

  27. Althea says:

    Hi there,

    Hoping for some advice. My old thrift store find of a DescoWare dutch oven got used or abused in such a way that there is chipping in the center of the bottom. (I suspect a house guest may have used too high a temp to brown something, and then got really busy “cleaning” it…)

    I love and use this piece a lot, but am concerned that the interior may continue chipping off– into my food! I know Le Creuset ( I hope that is not a dirty word around here) will replace any of their pieces that are damaged even after years of wear. Since they “acquired” this brand, think they would do the same for my piece?
    Unless I get lucky at a garage sale or thrift store again, I am not able to afford to replace it myself…

    Thanks for your help.

    althea

  28. Sheri Griffith says:

    I too have a pot that the enamel is chipped off of on the bottom. Did you get a reply from anyone on this?

  29. margaret gold says:

    I hope that you can tell me what to do ..my 3 1/2 pot that I love was damaged by excessive heat…
    now I have three spots that I am afraid will continue to chip

    can I use the pot and what can I do to stop chipping

  30. Joyce says:

    Yes, Candy Eve, you are correct–it is perfectly safe to use. I called Le Creuset and asked them and they basically said the same thing–it it just the cast iron core and is perfectly safe, but just put some oil on the exposed cast iron so it doesn’t rust πŸ™‚

  31. Michael says:

    I just acquired a Descoware roaster?/baking pan? that is marked in the cast iron enameled bottom FE 40. It orange on the outside grey on the inside. It has the Descoware made in Belgium mark on the bottom as well. There is also a capital letter A on the bottom. There are some minor chips on the rim of the piece. The interior has some marks and stains that I could not remove with scrubbing, but I don’t think the cast iron is showing anywhere. Is this something special? Did it come with a lid? Would this be a good container to cook a pot roast in the oven?

  32. Vicki E says:

    STOP THE PRESSES!!! Goo Gone cleans the grimy flame rim in minutes with minimal effort!! I just received my first Descoware pieces in the mail today & the bottoms were crusted with old, old dark stains (as so many of them are). I’d soaked & scrubbed with Bon Ami (for about an hour) & had some success. But, it was slow going.

    I thought about Goo Gone & how it says it removes grease. So, I decided, why not? I am thrilled to say that it works, really quick. I squirted it on, let it sit for a few minutes, then I used a credit card to help gently scrap/lift the old baked/cooked on stuff off. Came off with my finger nail, too. Then I gave it a good wash with soap & water when I was all done cleaning.

    I’m in search of my next Descoware to buy! Dirt & grime – are no problem now! πŸ™‚

  33. Erica Felman says:

    I inherited a few descoware saucepans from my aunt. The insides have lost their shine and they are a bit stained. From what I have read it looks like perhaps comet/ajax or bleach may have been used to clean the white insides of the saucepans. Is this irreparable (based on what was written above, it may well be)? If finish was “broken down” is there danger in cooking in these saucepans? They now seem to stain so very easily — now what?

    Thanks
    Erica

  34. Doug says:

    The use of wooden utensils , instead of metel ones, which will scratch the surface.

  35. monica schaffer says:

    Hi there,
    I just inhereted a Descoware dutch oven from my mother’s best friend. The piece is from the 60s. The cast iron is showing in places and in a few spots is rusting. I see that you’ve mentioned the pieces are safe to use if the enamel is worn off, but what if the cast iron underneath is rusted? And is there anything I can do about the rust? Is it possible to re-enamel the interior? i would love to use the piece if at all possible!

    Monica

  36. Sheila Slater says:

    Is there a way to re enamel the pots? I have two pots from the 60’s, but the enamel is cracked. Thanks.

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    I am a new fan of Descoware. 2 small covered dishes caught my eye at a local thrift shop. The size and shape was so similar to the Lecreuset that I have admired but couldn’t afford. I bought them assuming they were Lecreuset knock offs. I was excited to find that Descoware was the original. And while doing internet search I have found I can afford to add to my collection. I’m looking forward to using the Descoware.

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