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HOW do I clean this?

I have a Le Creuset enameled cast iron skillet. It has this odd black, almost sticky film on it. I'm not going to say who was cooking with it when this happened, but it wasn't me. ;)

I have tried everything I can think of - magic eraser, baking soda, heating and scrubbing, TONS of soap, green scratchy pads, copper scratchy pads, tulle.

It won't budge. :( Is that it for it then, or does anybody have any other ideas? Thanks!!!

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    1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

      No. Is it OK for the inside? I thought it was a cosmetic product. I'll check it out, thanks!

    2. Have you tried boiling water in it and then using a wooden spatula to try to scrape the gunk while the water is at a simmer?

      1 Reply
      1. re: tzurriz

        Yes. That didn't seem to budge it at all. I was kind of surprised, I thought for sure if it were heated up with boiling water the metal would expand enough to release whatever was wedged into the microscopic pores. Sadly, that theory didn't work out.

      2. If you have already tried the baking soda solution, then I will white vinegar. Put in some white vinegar and bring it to a low boil, then turn the heat off, and just let it cool down, then scrub it with a soft brush or sponge. See if the discoloration comes off. Best wishes.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Vinegar diluted with water used as described above is good. You can also try Bar Keepers Friend but be careful, a little "schmutz" is preferable to a ruined glazed. You might also try cooking a tomato sauce several times.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            OK, tried this, no budging. Thanks though!

            1. re: justlearning


              If you have already tried the baking soda solution and the white vinegar solution, but the stain remains untouched, then you can move toward more aggressive method. BlePlateSpec is correct. Bar Keeper's Friend is a tad more aggressive and it has very little side effects. Eventually, many people move toward more and more aggressive cleaners like using white bleach solution. Just be careful if you overdo it.

              "The bleach over time will take away the gloss on the pot, and pave the way to future staining. Make sure the bleach is well diluted if you use it!"


              I have heated up strong bleach solution in my old enameled cast iron Dutch Oven. It definitely clean the stain out which my other methods did not, but it also etched the surface. So just be careful as you slowly move toward stronger and stronger solution.

          2. Sounds like burned on vegetable oil, just the thing we are often told to use to season raw cast iron. And that Lodge uses on purpose.

            I recently removed a scary amount of this stuff off of a white Le Creuset omelet pan by boiling the affected parts in water with a lot of baking soda in it. I mean a LOT. And it took a fair amount of boiling and then rubbing with a non-scratch sponge lifted the stuff off in sheets and flakes.

            I myself create this very kind of film residue during periods when I take to making popcorn on the stovetop in a small stockpot with some frequency. Clearly I am not cleaning off the pot or the burner sufficiently between times. «shame»

            1 Reply
            1. re: pericolosa

              Yes, veggie oil is the cause!

              There's plenty of shame to share, don't take it all! haha ;)

            2. I think I did the same thing to mine last night! I made ATK's "(Almost) No-Knead Bread," and I must have spattered oil on both the inside AND the outside, and that stuff is now ON THERE!!!

              It's like I seasoned the sucker and now it won't come off! I tried vinegar, because that sure took off the seasoning on my wok (by mistake!!). I've tried BK Friend, etc... and I have scrubbed harder on this than I've EVER scrubbed... no result.

              I'll follow this thread with interest.

              1. On the outside?
                On the inside?

                What was cooked in it?

                It would help to know.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Jennalynn

                  Sorry! It's on the inside, bottom and slightly up the sides.

                  And YES it was vegetable oil, from cooking hash browns. Good call pericolosa! :)

                  1. re: justlearning

                    I would just live with it.

                    I have pans with baked on veggie oil and it's fine. If you don't like the way it looks, that's a different story. But you won't die from baked on vegetable oil.

                2. Have you cooked anything in it since the black film arrived? Maybe it's more stick-proof now because of the film. Or was, before you cleaned it over and over.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Jay F

                    Do you think it's OK to just leave it? I guess I wasn't really thinking about it that way. My husband said to throw it out! Gr. I haven't used it much since, and am sad to lose it. It is a great pan!

                    1. re: justlearning

                      It's hard to say definitively what you ought to do next, since you've introduced so many chemicals. But the initial brown/black layer you talked about may have been patina developing. I think I've read that somewhere about LC's currently available black enamel.

                      I'd make a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches, or at grilled single slices of bread, and see whether they stick. I never have problems with grilled cheese sticking. Do a few of them, covering all the surfaces a couple of times. Maybe they'll absorb everything you've used, and you can move on to chicken breasts.

                      1. re: Jay F

                        If it's burned on vegetable oil, the pan is definitely not ruined. If the pan's interior is the black satin coating that is intended to be seasoned, then there's no particular reason to remove the film unless you don't want vegetable oil traces in the seasoning (I don't like Lodge's seasoning for this reason. And it's sticky.) If, on the other hand, the pan's interior is light colored enamel and you find the oil residue unsightly or are concerned about trace amounts in whatever you will be cooking, the residue WILL remove with simple baking soda and elbow grease. Less elbow grease = more boiling. Trust me. I've been through this many times with my all-white LeC pans...

                  2. A tried and true method for getting pans clean is to boil them with water and powdered dishwasher detergent. I've gotten many burned on stains off pans that way. It smells horrible so run your exhaust fan and move any small pets out of the kitchen! Don't ask me how much to use, because honestly, I just pour a little in the water. Obviously you will rinse well after boiling.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: sueatmo

                      Thanks, I'll try that tomorrow too. I didn't think about dishwasher detergent, but it is pretty abrasive. Good point.

                      1. re: sueatmo

                        No need to boil. . . just make a thick paste to coat the stains & let it sit overnight. Wear gloves when washing off the paste. . . it will eat through cooked-on cruddy crust (no telling what it might do to sensitive skin). This process may need to be repeated since OP has tried so many time already. . . good luck!

                      2. I would try sealing it up in a bag with some ammonia and I would leave it in there at least over night. In the morning see if the ammonia has taken on the dark color. If it has it's doing the trick. I'd leave it longer until you can rub the deposits with your finger through the plastic bag and see some movement. Then I'd take it out, scrub it and wash it.

                        If that doesn't work, put it in a container that will hold it flat. Put in warm water to the level of the stains. Put in 3 or 4 denture cleaner tablets and leave that overnight.

                        Hope one of them helps.

                        I keep denture cleaner tablets on hand for all kinds of things like taking caffein stains out of coffee and tea pots, soaking the brushes I wash dishes with, soaking out tall vases and pitchers, etc. It's a great cleaner and intended for use with dentures that go in people's mouths.

                        1. I posted earlier about having the same/similar issue. My spots were from oil that had "seasoned" the enamel coating because of high heat from no-knead bread temperatures.

                          No matter how much elbow grease I used, via green plastic scrubber and BK Friend, etc, these spots didn't budge.

                          Today I tried Easy Off Oven Cleaner . Placed my DO on spread-out newspapers, sprayed it on, let it sit for 20-30 minutes. The spots just wiped right off-- no scrubbing or anything. I'm sold!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: EdBakesBread

                            Thanks Ed, it looks like that's where I'm going next. I still haven't had any luck.

                          2. OK! The Easy Off Oven Cleaner worked magic! :) There was one particular spot where I sprayed and let it sit 15 times, and it's still there - but getting smaller.

                            Thanks for all of the suggestions, I'm really glad I didn't toss this pan.

                            1 Reply