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How to Clean a Pizza Oven

Pizza ovens recreate the style and taste of an Italian restaurant or pizzeria in your own home. Unlike a typical kitchen oven, pizza ovens can reach the high temperatures necessary for an authentic, crisp pizza. 

Besides pizza, you can also take advantage of the heat for roasting. Whether it’s a wood-fired fish entree or steak or one of your favorite side dishes, you can make delicious ristorante-quality meals.

The extreme heat is also a perk for cleaning, as it can burn off most drippings and other food residue. When the pizza stone is cooled, a simple wipe-off is often enough.

That said, sometimes your pizza oven needs a more thorough cleaning. When it comes to a great kitchen experience, your tools need to be ready to shine. If you want to know how to clean a pizza oven or clean a pizza oven stone, read on for an easy guide.

This article will go over the simple cleaning steps for each of the common types of pizza ovens. 

Types of Pizza Ovens

Before we outline how to clean a pizza oven, we should go over pizza oven types. Each has advantages and disadvantages, for both cooking and cleaning.

Wood & Charcoal

Some pizza enthusiasts hail wood and charcoal pizza ovens as the most authentic. The wood choice can significantly impact the flavor. It takes some skill to start and maintain the fire, and you have to clean up ash and wood debris.

Propane & Gas Powered

Propane and gas-powered pizza ovens are a close second for the best authentic taste. They are also easier to use and clean compared to fire and charcoal. The oven heats quickly, and you get consistent results. 

Some are connected to tanks, while you can install others with a natural gas line. 

Electric

Electric pizza ovens are great for indoor use and saving space. You can reach higher temperatures than a convection oven, but it’s a similar idea. The temperature boost improves the cooking overall, but it might not create the same authentic pizzeria flavor.

Cleaning is as simple as most household appliances, like convection or toaster ovens.

Hybrid

A hybrid pizza oven comes with more than one way to fire up the heat. It includes a wood-fired method and gas or propane. Clean up will depend on which fuel you employ.

Grill Insert

If you already have a propane or gas-powered grill, buying an insert is a space and cost-saving option. Rather than add another appliance, you can use your grill as usual, with the insert retaining more heat. 

You won’t need extra steps to clean your grill, as the insert contains the cooking. Washing instructions vary, but like most grill inserts, soap, water, and a little scrubbing does the trick.

Conveyor Oven

Conveyor ovens use an internal conveyor system that keeps your food in motion as it cooks. They are commonly electric but are also available as gas-powered.

Conveyor ovens have room for making more, which means they take up more space. These ovens are a staple of businesses looking for a high yield.

How to Clean a Wood or Charcoal Pizza Oven

Wood and charcoal-fired ovens typically win out in the taste wars, but there’s more to clean.

Keeping your oven clean is the simplest and best way to ensure your cooking tastes excellent and your oven keeps working. The good news is that high temperature allows your oven to be self-cleaning. Additional steps are necessary for any grease or debris not incinerated.

  1. Let it Burn

You can let the fire burn after cooking as a self-cleaning function.

After you’ve kept the heat up for an additional 20-30 minutes, you can let the fire cool down. Before you continue, the oven and your pizza oven stone must cool completely.

  1. Remove the Ashes

Unless you’re trying to make a name for yourself as Cinderella, you don’t need a collection of cinders, ash, and debris. A build-up of ash leads to more smoke, which increases the chances of burning your food. It also can cause ventilation problems.

Every time you use your pizza oven, you should dust away all ash and wood debris. You can use a brush, or you can use a vacuum. However, we recommend using an ash vacuum and not your household vacuum.

  1. Wipe or Scrape Off Remaining Residue

The heat should have made the remaining grease or residue easy to remove, but it helps to have a long-handled scraper for tough spots. Once debris is detached, wipe it away with a brush. 

Be careful with brushes with tough bristles, like some grill brushes, as you want to scratch residue, not your pizza oven.

How to Clean a Propane or Gas Pizza Oven

The cleanup for propane and gas pizza ovens is a little easier because there’s less debris and waste product.

  1. Let it Burn

The same step applies to propane or gas as it does for wood or charcoal. Let the high temperature do most of the work. Then, let it cool completely before proceeding with additional cleaning.

  1. Wipe or Scrape Off Remaining Residue

With propane or gas pizza ovens, you don’t need to dust away ashes, but you still need a scraper and a brush for crumbs, grease, and other remains.

Like the wood-fired pizza oven, don’t use chemicals for interior cleaning. Rely on hot water and a damp cloth to wipe away stains. A brush or a scraper is best for harsher residue.

How to Clean a Conveyor Pizza Oven

Conveyor ovens have tight spaces and moving parts, which makes them the trickiest to clean. Keep your eyes peeled for crumbs and residue locked into corners and in difficult-to-reach surfaces.

For most of the interior oven, the same cleaning routine applies to any pizza oven. The heat will help burn off some spillage and residue, but you’ll need a damp cloth and a scraper or brush to wipe away stubborn remains and stains.

The extra step comes with removing the conveyor belt. Removing the belt and fingers allows better access to cleaning interior messes. It’s also easier to remove any residue that might glue itself to the fingers.

You can clean the belt and fingers with soap and water or a cleaning product of your preference. Any cleaning solution you would use on other appliances, such as your microwave, grill, or oven, would be appropriate.

How to Clean a Pizza Oven Stone

When learning how to clean a pizza oven stone, there are two simple rules: never use soap and use as little water as possible. Moisture can damage your pizza stone when absorbed, and it can form cracks. Soap can also wear away the finish of the stone.

Hot water and a brush are all you need for regular cleaning. You should avoid cleaning products with chemicals, as the stone can absorb the chemicals. The next time you cook, you won’t want chemicals marinating your food.

If stains or spills stick after hot water and a good scrub, baking soda is another option. 

Baking Soda Paste Spot-Cleaning

Spot-cleaning can help you avoid moisture damage. But, it’s still possible for cracks to form if you’re not cautious.

  1. Create a paste with equal parts baking soda and water. If you have measuring cups on hand, you can start with a quarter cup of each. You might need more or less, depending on how much residue is stuck.
  1. Apply the solution to stains and let it sit for several minutes. Try not to let the baking soda paste sit for too long. Less is more when it comes to preserving your pizza stone.
  1. Rinse off the paste with warm water and dry thoroughly.

If stains or residue remain on the stone after the first round of baking soda paste, you might need a second round. Whatever method you use when deciding how to clean your pizza oven stone, drying is the most crucial step.

Cleaning Outside Your Pizza Oven

When figuring out how to clean a pizza oven, you probably focused on the inside. Exterior cleaning isn’t needed as regularly, as it is mainly about appearance. However, maintaining the outside will benefit the overall longevity of your pizza oven.

Stainless Steel Pizza Oven

To clean stainless steel, you need a lightly damp cloth. Try using vinegar instead of water when you need to clean off anything more than fingerprints.

Another option is to buy a stainless steel cleaner. It can be helpful to have an easy store-bought solution if you have harsher stains or need a deeper clean.

Brick or Stone Pizza Oven

Brick and stone can be a gorgeous aesthetic to add to the authentic pizzeria experience, but they require more care. 

Whether your build or buy, the material needs to be cured to protect it from moisture. Outdoor brick or stone ovens are particularly at risk for moisture damage. Just like a barbeque cover, it’s essential to cover your oven to protect it from the elements. 

Even when well covered, if you experience cold weather or moisture (rain, snow, or high humidity), water can seep in. If you haven’t used your outdoor oven recently or have experienced wet conditions, try heating your oven at a low temperature for an hour before cooking. It can remove some of the moisture without causing cracks or other damage.

You should do any maintenance or cleaning after the oven has completely cooled down. Brick and stone ovens lose heat slower than other cooking appliances. A temperature check is a worthwhile safety precaution.

Exhaust Stacks or Flue

If your pizza oven has an exhaust stack or flue, it needs regular cleaning. How often you clean will change with how often you cook. Once a month is a safe bet, but you might need to clean the stack earlier if you start using your pizza oven more.

Leaving a stack caked with soot can lead to a chimney or exhaust fire and can impact your pizza oven’s overall performance. The smoke needs to go somewhere. Adequate ventilation protects you and your dinner.

If you can, it’s always better to hire a professional for safety and a more effective clean. Small oven flues are generally easy to clean on your own, but you add difficulty when you add height.