Once you’ve tried baking your own pizza in a proper oven, it’s hard to enjoy delivery again. The smell of fresh-baked dough and melting cheese on a summer night… Delicious. Cleaning up afterwards, though? Not as much fun.
How to clean a pizza oven? It depends on the material. For an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven, there’s brick or stainless steel. You can clean brick with a clean cloth, while stainless steel needs a damp cloth. Remove the ashes with a shovel or brush. Indoor ovens, or convection ovens, can be cleaned with soapy water.
Keep your pizza oven clean to get the best flavour and crust on your favourite Margherita – something any good aficiona-dough would know!
Different Types of Pizza Ovens
The types of pizza ovens differ based on their heating method.
Outdoor wood-fired ovens use wood as fuel, and come in a dome shape. They’re specialised ovens that can bake or roast food at very high cooking temperatures. You can use them for other foods such as baking wood-fired bread.
For a wood-fired oven, common materials include stainless steel and brick or stone.
Indoor versions are commonly convection ovens and use electricity to power the heating element. These are often stainless steel ovens, which can also bake or roast food.
Why Clean a Pizza Oven?
Much like all your other cooking and food preparation appliances, it’s important to maintain a clean oven.
Dirt causes food to absorb nasty odours and bacteria, which will affect the taste and could lead to a health risk.
Dirty ovens are also less efficient at cooking. A build-up of ashes and soot will insulate the heat, so your pizza won’t cook evenly.
How Often to Clean a Pizza Oven
You should wipe down your pizza oven after every use. This takes care of any grease stains and food stuck onto the surface (like burnt cheese). It also prevents soot, ash, and any debris from building up inside the oven chamber.
For the pizza stone, you’ll need to wipe it down and remove any stuck-on food after use. You can deep clean it once a week if you use your oven frequently, or wait for every dozen uses.
If you clean your oven regularly, then you’ll only need to deep clean it once a month.
Before Cleaning a Pizza Oven
Never, ever clean a pizza oven while it’s hot.
Pizza ovens bake the dough at extremely high temperatures, which will cause burns and damage cleaning tools. Always wait until the oven has completely cooled before touching it.
You can’t try to speed up the cooling process either! Don’t pour water or apply cleaning products to the pizza oven while it’s hot, since this could cause thermo-shock. That will weaken, warp, or crack the oven.
How to Clean an Outdoor Wood-Fired Pizza Oven
Who doesn’t love an outdoor pizza party with good friends, a few drinks, and a fresh-baked sliced? But you won’t enjoy that delicious pizza if you don’t clean your outdoor pizza oven properly.
Always remove the pizza stone before you begin cleaning.
Clear the ashes
Every time you use your oven, you’ll need to clear out the ash debris.
Use a copper brush or shovel to remove the ash, which might also remove the crumbs and stuck-on food. Avoid using a steel BBQ grill brush since it could damage the oven floor.
Cleaning a brick pizza oven
For brick and stone ovens, there’s actually not much cleaning required. Much like cast iron skillets, a brick wood-fired pizza oven develops a patina or coating over time, which “seasons” the brick surfaces.
Regarding food debris like baked-on cheese, you can scrape things off with a pizza peel or a flat scraper. Be mindful not to chip the brick or stone.
Avoid using chemical cleaning products, since brick is a porous material and will absorb anything applied to it. If you want to deep clean, you can use a baking soda paste or plain water and a soft-bristled brush.
Use as little moisture as possible, since the water could soak into the brick, which will then crack after the water is superheated.
Cleaning stainless steel pizza ovens
To clean a stainless steel oven, use a soft, dry cloth to wipe the oven and accessories.
Then use a damp cloth to wipe the exterior of the oven, either with plain water or with a mixture of vinegar and water. Buff with a dry microfibre cloth.
Wipe along the grain to give the surface a good shine and minimise smudges.
Cleaning the pizza oven chimney systems
Since wood that’s burned slowly produces soot, you’ll also need to clean the chimney to prevent a build-up that could cause a fire.
Use a soft-bristled brush to clean out the chimney. Do not use oven cleaner or similar products.
Inspect your chimney annually for clearances and deposits.
Cleaning the oven door
If your pizza oven comes with a glass door, you’ll need to clean that too!
Wipe it with a dry paper towel to remove soot and stains. Then mix one part vinegar to three parts water in a spray bottle and apply it to the glass. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
Use a sponge or microfibre cloth to wipe the glass, then dry.
You can leave the door propped open slightly to introduce proper ventilation that will help dry the oven interior.
How to Clean a Convection Pizza Oven
For baking pizza indoors, the common kitchen tool is a convection oven. These operate differently from traditional ovens since they circulate hot air to heat up faster.
Start by disconnecting the power line and allowing the oven to cool down.
To clean a convection oven, remove the oven racks and soak them in the sink. Then you can use oven cleaner or just soapy water with a mild detergent.
Minimise the amount of water you use to prevent moisture from reaching the electric components. You can scrub any stubborn spots using a non-metallic scouring pad or sponge.
You can also clean the exterior with dish soap and water. Dab a little soap onto a sponge, dampen it lightly, then wipe the metal surfaces. Rinse with a damp sponge or cloth, then wipe dry.
Cleaning Your Pizza Stone
An oven stone is made of porous material, so you need to be mindful while cleaning it. Avoid using soapy water to clean a pizza stone, as well as chemical products.
After baking a pizza, use a nylon/silicone scraper or rubber spatula to remove baked-on cheese and other food. Then wipe the surface with a barely-damp rag. Let the stone dry completely before storing it away.
If you’ve hired a house cleaning service, make sure they know the proper cleaning procedure!
Tips for How to Clean a Pizza Oven
Protect your oven by using pizza oven covers, which will shelter it from weather elements and dust.
Always ensure the oven is completely cool and dry before covering it up.
For prolonged periods without use, store your oven away.
Minimise soot and smoke residue by using small pieces of kindling. Avoid soft woods since these could damage the burner. Never pour gas or lighter fluid into the oven.
Use as little water as possible so you don’t damage the stone or brick.
Inspect the door and exhaust hood regularly to check for accumulation of creosote, which is a mixture of organic vapours and moisture. Creosote is a fire hazard, so wipe clean often.